Local surgeons group leads six bids made for Winter Park's 1.5-acre Fairbanks lot

Bob Moser

Winter Park commissioners should decide on Monday which of six purchase and development offers to accept for a city-owned parcel along busy W. Fairbanks Avenue, with a local surgeons office pitching the highest bid and plans for a mixed-use office building. 

The city began marketing in June the 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. 

The site has 250 feet of frontage along busy Fairbanks Avenue, which boasts more than 33,000 annual average daily traffic trips, according to Orange County. 

Six offers were made, which city staff wil present to commissioners on Monday with a recommendation to accept the highest offer. 

The offers and Letters of Intent submitted were, in order of price: 

-- Verax Investments LLC and with ComTech Properties, Inc., affiliates of local commercial real estate broker and development consultant Don Ammerman, and executives with Orlando Neurosurgery, which currently has a small stand-alone office a few blocks west on Fairbanks Avenue.
Price: $3.5 million
Proposed Use: Two-story, mixed-use medical and business office building of approximately 20,000 square feet.

Dr. Ravi Gandhi, partner with Orlando Neurosurgery, told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday the vision behind his group's bid is not to relocate the neurosurgery practice, but to develop the office building to attract new medical service providers to Winter Park. 

-- Atlanta-based Wilson Development Group
Price: $3.05 million
Proposed Use: Commercial retail building (8,250 SF) and drive-thru quick service restaurant (2,500 SF).

"It's our intent to have a public workshop if selected, and sit with residents of Winter Park to take suggestions on how to best develop the project next to the park," Berkshire Realty's Jared Ettinger, serving as buyer's representative, told GrowthSpotter. "Wilson has also studied redevelopments in bigger metro areas on how to best incorporate retail with an adjacent park." 

-- Orlando-based Tower Realty Partners, Inc.
Price: $3 million (all cash at closing)
Proposed Use: Mixed-use retail and medical office building of approximately 20,000 square feet. 

-- Orlando-based Liberty Investment Properties 
Price: $3 million
Proposed Use: Retail and Self-Storage building of approx. 91,800 square feet. 

Liberty has developed a My Neighborhood Self Storage facility on Fairbanks Avenue at its intersection with Interstate 4, and has done others in Maitland, near Mall at Millenia and on Mills Avenue.

"Our desire was to bring a mixed-use product and building that could work on that entrance to Winter Park," president Adam W. Mikkelson told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "The low-density use of our product is something that while it's a lot of square footage, it doesn't create a lot of traffic. We would integrate about (14,000 SF) of ground floor retail, and there is strong demand for self storage now." 

Zoning on the property would permit a self-storage facility, but Winter Park's limited Floor Area Ratio requirements would necessitate a modification request, Mikkelson said. 

"A lot of people have a negative perception of self storage, but our goal is to come in and create a truly integrated neighborhood feel that looks attractive," he added. 

-- Boca Raton-based Halvorsen Suburban Centers LLC, affiliate of retail developer Halvorsen Holdings
Price: $3 million
Proposed Use: Two-story organic grocery with parking at-grade under the predominately second floor grocery store. Project size is 22,622 square feet, with 17,600 square feet in the at-grade parking level for a combined building size of 40,262 square feet.

-- Crown Property Solutions LLC, affiliate of Orlando-based Haaz Investments, which is managed by Aleem and Hafiz Kanji
Price: $2 million
Proposed Use: No proposed use was indicated.

All of the projects would need to be approved as conditional uses, since all propose buildings of more than 10,000 square feet, or in the case of one have a drive-thru restaurant.

All the purchase offers had varied due diligence periods requested. During that time the buyer would undertake title and survey review, environmental testing, site and architectural plan preparation, arrange financing and face the city's conditional use approval process.

Staff would like to negotiate with the winning bidder to establish a due diligence period that includes the conditional use process, within 120 to 160 days. The sale contract would be signed following adoption of the ordinance, authorizing a sale. 

If the City Commission votes to proceed with an offer, staff will prepare a formal real estate sale contract. 

Winter Park's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and general funds were used to buy the property in 2016 for $2.9 million, in order to improve traffic flow on Fairbanks by carving frontage off the parcel for right-of-way. 

Florida law requires a NOD process for surplus property within a CRA boundary that was bought with CRA funds.

Appraised value of the property is $2.96 million, which all but one proposal met or exceeded. The CRA approved a measure to allocate $1 million, representing the CRA's share of the original purchase back to the CRA budget, upon closing of a future sale.

The city has said it prefers to not see retail proposals with bank branches, fast food establishments, or automobile repair and service, and may require a deed restriction upon closing to prohibit any future development of these types of uses. 

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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