Winter Park favors two bidders pitching new office bldg for W. Fairbanks lot

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Winter Park will negotiate with two bidders for a city-owned parcel along busy W. Fairbanks Avenue and south of Martin Luther King Jr. park that have each proposed to develop new office buildings, following a vote by commissioners on Monday.

The city began marketing in June a 1.51-acre property at 1111 W. Fairbanks Ave, formerly the Bowl America site, which lies just east of the intersection with U.S. 17-92 (Orlando Avenue), and south of Comstock Avenue. 

Six purchase and development offers were made public last week for the property, which included office, retail and a self-storage facility as prospective uses. 

Bobby Palta, first vice president with CBRE Orlando and commercial real estate advisor to the city, recommended on Monday that commissioners choose at least two bidders to proceed with to maintain leverage in the coming weeks.

Moving on to the next round is ComTech Properties, Inc. and Verax Investments LLC, which offered the high bid of $3.5 million. The entities are affiliates of local commercial real estate broker and development consultant Don Ammerman and executives with Orlando Neurosurgery, which currently owns a small stand-alone office a few blocks west on Fairbanks Avenue.

They've proposed a two-story medical office building of approximately 20,000 square feet. Dr. Ravi Gandhi, partner with Orlando Neurosurgery, told GrowthSpotter on Monday the vision behind his group's bid is to develop the office building to attract new medical service providers to Winter Park.

"Our goal is to get high-end medical care providers not presently in Winter Park to the city," he said. "We are in discussions with tenant offers from multiple parties that could make this a single-tenant or multi-tenant building." 

Gandhi's investment partners in the project have yet to interview general contractors for pre-construction cost estimates, and would eventually seek a construction loan to partially finance the project.

The other offer chosen by commissioners for negotiations was from Orlando-based Tower Realty Partners, Inc., which bid $3 million with all cash at closing for the property, and proposed a 20,000-square-foot office building with potential retail on the ground floor.

Tower Realty owns and operates office buildings across Greater Orlando. Officials with the company did not respond to requests for comment late Monday.

Verax Investments had the higher bid, but initially requested up to 220 days to close. The city will likely counter for a shorter window of time that is in line with the permitting approval process. 

Tower Realty requested half the closing time that Verax did, but bid $500,000 less. Commissioners asked Palta to continue negotiating with the two groups, return in two weeks, and emphasized their priorities of the highest bid price, a reasonable timeframe for closing and green space with trees on the site. 

Commissioners dismissed a slightly higher bid of $3.05 million from Atlanta-based Wilson Development Group, which proposed a retail building (8,250 SF) and drive-thru quick service restaurant (2,500 SF). They equated the drive-thru QSR description as being equivalent to "fast food," which the city said was an undesired use in its original marketing of the property.

Other bids and proposed uses were a retail and self-storage facility by Orlando-based Liberty Investment Properties, and an organic grocer by Boca Raton-based retail developer Halvorsen Holdings.

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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