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Owner revives Universal Blvd. shopping center, eyes outparcels with 'game-changer' coming

Promotional materials for Lake Cay Commons Plaza, which highlight two new potential outparcels (in yellow) that front Universal Boulevard.
Promotional materials for Lake Cay Commons Plaza, which highlight two new potential outparcels (in yellow) that front Universal Boulevard. (Global Realty and Management FL)

The South Florida owner of Lake Cay Commons Plaza on Universal Boulevard has turned the shopping center from near-vacancy to the verge of full occupancy in roughly a year and a half and is now considering new outparcels ahead of Destination Parkway's future connectivity, property managers told GrowthSpotter on Monday during ICSC's 2015 Florida Conference & Deal Making in Orlando.

When Sunrise-based Global Fund Investments bought the 12.13-acre property in December 2013 through an affiliate LLC for $11.35 million, the Publix-anchored center had just four spaces leased out of a potential 30.

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Dogged effort was the only course for affiliate Global Realty & Management FL Inc. to rebuild the image of Lake Cay Commons, in what was then still a recovering Orlando retail market.

Property manager Daniel Bittel spent three or more days per week in Orlando pursuing new retailers, and he and colleague Kevin Buth steadily lined up tenants like NYPD Pizza, Subway, Fast Signs and more. The two have delivered 15 leases for Lake Cay over the past year.

Within the past few weeks, Lake Cay's newest tenants The UPS Store, Taco Maker Mexican Grill and a sushi restaurant have begun buildout, bringing the property to 96 percent occupancy, Bittel said.

Much of the remaining area is concentrated in three neighboring spaces that are now being combined into 3,000 square feet to accommodate one end-cap restaurant tenant, a large national chain that is close to signing, Bittel added.

Once the asset is stabilized, Global Realty will turn its attention to selling or developing two outparcels (0.75 and 0.84 acres) that front Universal Boulevard.

Buth calls Destination Parkway's connection to International Drive, which Orange County could have ready by mid-2016, a "game-changer for land values" of Lake Cay Commons and other retail space near the Destination-Universal intersection.

Diagonal from Lake Cay on Universal Boulevard, lie 18 acres for which ComTerra Development Group of Estero, Fla., is pursuing retail and dining chains, which GrowthSpotter detailed on May 26. ComTerra's principal Jim Nashman said on the sidelines of ICSC Florida he's still trying to line up pre-lease agreements, is optimistic for the project, but has not purchased the land yet.

A growing residential presence on Universal Boulevard is just as important to Lake Cay Commons' buildout as Destination Parkway's connectivity, Buth said. The 700-unit The Courtney is still being built, 440 apartments at The District Universal Boulevard are occupied just a few blocks north, hundreds of students attend UCF's Rosen College, multiple timeshare properties are nearby and new land will open to developers along Destination Parkway next year.

Buth said the two potential outparcel properties at Lake Cay aren't ready to go just yet. Global Realty doesn't have entitlements for the properties and would have to amend the Planned Development that Lake Cay lies within to allow for new uses on those parcels.

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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