Retail Dining Developments

Equinox buys final piece of land needed for its WaterStar mixed-use project

A site plan for the WaterStar Orlando mixed-use project along West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway.

Nearly 34 acres of land straddled between Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Margaritaville Resort are officially under the control of Equinox Development Properties.

The Maitland-based developer just completed the final of a series of four property takedowns to purchase predominantly vacant land located on U.S. 192 in the Four Corners area of southwest Orange County.


The deals took place simultaneously with efforts to entitle the property with allowances to build up to 350 apartments, 250 hotel units and over 200,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space.

Equinox CEO Ryan Stahl was not immediately available to comment.

An aerial view of where the WaterStar Orlando mixed-use project is being developed in proximity to Encore Capital Management’s Margaritaville Resort.

Epoch Residential is under contract to purchase the multifamily portion of the property. According to records filed in Orange County, the firm is looking to develop 320 luxury apartment units.

In total, the Equinox spent $22 million to acquire the properties.

The assemblage abuts another commercial project that Equinox began developing in 2012 called Black Lake Village.

In 2017, Equinox bought an additional 2.65 acres of vacant land to the west of Black Lake Village so it may expand the retail plaza, where tenants currently include a Joe’s Crab Shack, Chuy’s Tex-Mex and a Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. A Panda Express fast food restaurant was completed in 2017 as part of Black Lake Village.

Equinox is under contract to purchase an additional 8 acres of surface parking to the west that’s currently owned by Walt Disney World. Plans for that parcel include hotel and timeshare uses.

Entitlements for Parcel B allow for 60,000 square feet of commercial uses, while Parcel C allows for 25,000 square feet of commercial uses, up to 125 hotel units and 125 timeshare units.

The WaterStar mixed-use project were first revealed at last year’s ICSC Florida Conference & Deal Making in Orlando.

The following year Equinox began closing on the land through affiliate WaterStar Orlando LLC.

In March, GrowthSpotter reported that the company had paid $3.5 million for the first parcel within its assemblage for the mixed-use project. The 4.3-acre site at 7991 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy. was sold by the Mary Ellen Dowdy Family Trust.


Equinox also had to buy land from Walt Disney World to complete its portfolio for WaterStar. The firm paid $5 million for Disney-owned land in November. In August, it paid $10 million to acquire another portion from Colorado-based investor Maury J. Handler and family members.

According to a deed recently recorded in Orange County, the firm paid $3.5 million for the remaining piece of land from 5600 IDRIVE LLC, an entity led by Ronald Dowdy Jr., Megan Dowdy and Meredith Tessler.

Across from WaterStar Orlando, Encore Capital Management is wrapping up development of a lifestyle center as part of its Margaritaville project called Sunset Walk. Studio Movie Grill and GameTime are among its tenants.

The area has a number of big development plans in the works.

Canadian developer Everest Group of Companies recently paid $34 million for 217 acres nearby for what would be Osceola County’s first five-star resort called the Grand Medina Resort & Spa Orlando. If completed, the project would also be North America’s first Muslim-friendly resort.

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