UPDATED: MARCH 8, 2018 9:12 AM — A new developer with Canadian roots has the former Flea World property in Sanford under contract, and envisions mixed-use for the remaining 110 acres that would feature nature throughout a live/work/play destination.
Located on U.S. 17-92 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard at County Home Road, the "Reagan Center" property lies directly across from the Seminole County court house and Sheriff's Office headquarters, and has been eyed for redevelopment by public officials for years.
"It's unique to find this much land assembled in one place, and the team working with us on behalf of the seller had put in a lot of work in terms of getting entitlements and permits, so this is a site where we don't have to spend two years or more in permitting and can really focus on developing a vision that will be exciting for the county," Karim H. Ismail, co-founder of Palmeira Holdings, told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday.
"We're starting to plan straight away, and we'll see how quickly those plans develop. There's no timeline now for a Master Plan submission, but we envision this including multifamily, office, retail and entertainment, and a possible hotel."
Ismail is the founder of BlueprintPAL, a business planning and leadership consultancy, and a former vice president of facilities development at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital where he played a role in master planning.
He co-founded Palmeira Holdings in Orlando last year with a Florida-based broker and partner Seema Kara to begin developing commercial real estate. While new to Florida CRE, Palmeira's seven-person executive team claims more than 90 years of experience in real estate, engineering, hotels and related financing.
The property features about 76.8 upland acres, where entitlements are flexible but forecast more than 1.9 million square feet of retail/commercial (43.8 acres) and up to 825 multifamily units (33 acres). The former flea market closed in August 2015, and demolition of the various buildings was completed last year.
Ismail said he has filled all the design and engineering roles on his project team, and cited Lebanon-based Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture as a lead for designing how the property's natural landscape can be incorporated into future development.
"We envision a place where people will live, work and play, and an ecosystem where all that happens in nature," Ismail said. "There is a 33-acre conservation area on the site. Some would see that as a negative, but we like the idea of starting with nature already present and having people living, working and playing in a park-like setting."
He also anticipates making necessary stormwater retention ponds central design features for future development, describing water as "a healing environment to live near."
Paul Partyka of The Partyka Group has served as listing agent for land owner 17-92 Five Points LLC, an affiliate of former Orlando businessman Sydney Levy, who died in January at age 88.
Negotiations with Palmeira Holdings began in late 2017 for the site but paused in January when Levy died. When a probate judge decided who had the authority to sign on behalf of Levy's estate, negotiations continued in February and the property was put under contract, with closing anticipated for late this year.
"Their vision is big, and very creative," Partyka said. "They'll begin meeting with county commissioners soon to share that."
Palmeira Holdings is now in due diligence with a deposit that has not gone hard. Ismail declined to comment on how much time has been granted for the inspection phase.
Partyka had been marketing the land through 2017 at a price of $26.3 million overall, or $342,757 per upland acre.
The first portion of the original 118 acres of Reagan Center sold in September 2015, when Park Square Homes bought 8.3 acres where it is now building a 66-lot townhome development named Windsor Square.
Levy's ownership group did not invest any further in infrastructure for the property beyond installing a master lift station last year.