Outlined in yellow is the 16.5-acre parcel at 5504 W. Oak Ridge Road, east of a new Interstate 4 interchange connecting to Grand National Drive.
Outlined in yellow is the 16.5-acre parcel at 5504 W. Oak Ridge Road, east of a new Interstate 4 interchange connecting to Grand National Drive. (North American Properties)

Cincinnati-based North American Properties has broken ground on its 16.5-acre mixed-use project on the northern end of International Drive, has a new fourth tenant under contract for its initial retail mix, and is negotiating a contract for the project's first hotel, a partner with the company told GrowthSpotter.

Located at 5504 W. Oak Ridge Road, directly south of Orlando International Premium Outlets, the land lies in the path of the I-4 Ultimate project's new flyover bridge that will link neighboring Grand National Drive across the interstate to Caravan Court, a block from one of the main entrances of Universal Orlando. The flyover is expected to open this summer or fall.

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Site and infrastructure work began on the property on June 5 by Eden Site Development. By year's end, main roads should be built and vertical construction should start on the first four outparcel shells, said partner Shawn McIntyre.

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The developer is also installing a traffic signal at its main entry off of W. Oak Ridge Road, which will be shared with Simon's International Premium Outlets to the north.

North American Properties recently finalized leases with Bahama Breeze and Longhorn Steakhouse (both Darden restaurants), as well as Starbucks and U.S. Gift Factory, a local business owned by the family of Elevation Development's Owais Khanani.

This will be U.S. Gift Factory's third location in the I-Drive corridor. Khanani expects the store shell at Oak Ridge Road to be delivered in early Second Quarter 2018, and the store to open by the end of that quarter.

North American Properties will build the Starbucks and U.S. Gift Factory shells, and has yet to hire a general contractor for that work. Those plans are in permit review with the city, and the developer will wait for staff comments before settling on a GC choice, McIntyre said.

McIntyre said an LOI is in place from a hotel development group with a contract now in negotiation, for what would tentatively be a seven-story, 160-key project.

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Beyond that, North American Properties will take its time in defining plans for the rest of the property's southern half, be those for multifamily, more retail or hotels, McIntyre said.

"With the four (retail) leases signed and the (hotel) LOI in the works, we have the time to let some of this mature," he continued. "I believe this overpass will open by early fall, and that changes end-users opinions substantially when a real estate representative from any of those users can be in their car, and see exactly how advantageous the height of the overpass is looking down on our property."

Rich entitlements approved in July 2016 for the project's Master Plan give North American Properties a lot of options, with 130,000 square feet of retail/dining space, 20,000 square feet of medical office/clinic use, 800 hotel rooms and a 350-unit apartment complex among them.

North American closed a construction loan with Huntington Bank for roughly $27 million. Site work and infrastructure costs are estimated north of $12 million, McIntyre said, vertical construction on two retail outparcels may be another $3.5 million, and the developer paid $16.8 million for the land in July 2016.

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This will be a second location on I-Drive for both Bahama Breeze and Longhorn Steakhouse, each of which have their other locations in the tourist corridor based three miles or longer to the south. It will be the third Starbucks on or near I-Drive, north of the Orange County Convention Center.

Darden Restaurants' acceptance of second locations for Bahama Breeze and Longhorn so close to other units on I-Drive speaks to the confidence retailers may have in the new traffic that will flow eastward over that I-4 flyover bridge from Universal Orlando, and S. Kirkman Road.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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