Crescent Communities' mixed-use plans for 153 acres in Lake Mary could be the city's first live-work-play development fronting the east side of Interstate 4, coupling a Millenial housing option with Class A office in a way Lake Mary's commercial wave has missed up until now.
The New Century Town Center development would occupy land east of I-4 and Heathrow, north of W. Lake Mary and Primera boulevards, and west of Rinehart Road, surrounding the former Siemens Stromberg-Carlson plant that's been through years of environmental cleanup.
Crescent is seeking new entitlements for the property totaling 350 multi-family units, 350 hotel rooms, 50,000 square feet of standard retail, 50,000 square feet of specialty retail, and 1.2 million square feet of office or flex space. The company recently filed a new Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning application with Lake Mary, the Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday morning.
"Lake Mary has been a target recently for big corporate offices, and has a lot to offer as a small town. But what it has lacked is a housing component that is modern, walkable and will attract new resident segments that want to live close to these expected high-wage (office) jobs," Miranda Fitzgerald, land use attorney with Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed representing Crescent on the project, told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday.
The property was formerly approved with a DRI in 1999 that allowed 1.878 million square feet of industrial flex space, and 24,000 square feet of retail/commercial. Crescent got that DRI rescinded last year, bought the acreage in December 2015 for $4.275 million, and now has a blank slate to pursue more market-driven entitlements.
"The entitlements we've asked for now are much more market-driven than those under the DRI, so we're very excited about this," Fitzgerald continued. "We've kept the trip thresholds the same as those under the old DRI, even though we've changed the uses from industrial to mixed use. And by having more commercial and residential there should be a net capture from internal connectivity."
Crescent likely has eight months or more ahead to get its zoning request through three stages of Lake Mary approval, and a large-scale Comprehensive Plan amendment through Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity, creating a new mixed-use Future Land Use district within the city.
Jennifer Sharabba, Crescent's director of development in Orlando, declined to forecast a time-line for buildout of the property, saying the company is only focused now on the zoning and re-entitlement.
"Our intent is to be reactive to current market conditions, and remain flexible," she told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday.
Lake Mary's corporate office market has taken off in recent years, with Verizon and Deloitte relocating major operations there, CNA leasing most of a new 137,000-square-foot building, and Axium Healthcare planning expansion.
Greater Orlando's office market had an inventory of 37.34 million square feet through the first quarter of this year, with a vacancy rate of 13.9 percent, slightly better than the state average of 14.3 percent, according to CBRE.
Among the entitlements proposed for Crescent's New Century, the 1.2 million square feet of new office space will a key driver for it to be the city's next location for high-quality economic development, said Tom Tomerlin, Lake Mary's economic development manager.
"Lake Mary is unique in that we have a population of 16,000, but we have a daytime population of 32,000 working within the city," he told GrowthSpotter. "Anyone who has traveled I-4 as soon as they hit Lake Mary Boulevard can see offices on both sides of the interstate. To have this space for additional offices going up will really help that trend."
Despite Lake Mary positioning itself as an attractive office submarket within an oversupplied MSA, slow and steady is the likely approach to introducing another 1.2 million square feet.
The product Crescent would likely build there would be graded Class A office, with comparatively high-end finishes and amenities. They would likely take a pragmatic approach to pre-leasing the space to Fortune 500, national and large regional companies on long-term deals before committing to construction, said Isaiah "Ike" Cottle, MSRE, Senior Associate with Realty Capital Commercial Real Estate Advisors in Orlando.
A development of this size may take 10 years or more to build out, allowing Crescent to respond to market demand for office at a pace Lake Mary is able to absorb, he added.
Adjacent to the New Century property with frontage on Primera Boulevard is Crescent's Primera VI and Primera VII project, on a 22-acre parcel entitled for up to 304,920 square feet of Class A office, with pre-lease or build-to-suit options being marketed by the company. The Primera office land is separate from the New Century parcel, and zoned by its own DRI.