Winter Park OKs new medical office plan near MLK Jr. Park, anchor tenant sought

Bob Moser

A group of local physicians have a clear path to close in May on city-owned land in Winter Park with plans for a new medical office building, and are seeking an anchor tenant and lender in the coming weeks. 

The 1.51 acres at 1111 W. Fairbanks Ave., known as the former Bowl America site, lie just east of the intersection with U.S. 17-92 (Orlando Avenue) and south of Comstock Avenue. The city began marketing it for sale in June 2017, and the high bid of $3.5 million was accepted by city commissioners in late September

A Conditional Use Permit was approved for the two-story building on March 26 by Winter Park's City Commission, which included their preference of an east-west orientation for the building to face Fairbanks Avenue.

Contract-purchaser Verax Investments LLC now has roughly 45 days before an anticipated closing on the land in mid-May. The group is led by Dr. Ravi Gandhi, a partner with Orlando Neurosurgery, and includes physicians and non-physicians as co-investors. 

Their purchase contract with the city mandates development within 18 months of sale, but Gandhi said they plan on breaking ground as soon as possible this year after closing. 

"We're still working on the engineering component and final architectural drawings for the construction plans," he told GrowthSpotter

Verax proposed a two-story medical office building of approximately 20,000 square feet. The investment group's aim is to attract new medical service providers to Winter Park.

Lamm & Company Partners has been hired as general contractor, KTH Architects was brought on for design and Burkett Engineering is civil engineer. 

Total construction cost for the building shell is now estimated near $8 million, per Gandhi, with more depending on tenant improvement costs. 

Gandhi said his team of investors are still seeking specialty medical practice tenants for the building, with the preference being one group to take the entirety.

His investment group anticipates putting down up to 30 percent as equity in their land purchase, then will seek $5 million or more in financing. Negotiations are underway with three finalist commercial lenders, Gandhi said. 

If a medical service tenant isn't signed for the building, as a backup Orlando Neurosurgery could take the space, Gandhi said last fall. The private practice currently owns a small stand-alone office a few blocks west on Fairbanks Avenue.

In that scenario, Orlando Neurosurgery would open its second location in the new building for a comprehensive spine health center that includes physical therapy, imagining, same-day clinic and advanced pain management services.

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