Circle in yellow is the 1.7-acre Parcel U in downtown Orlando's Creative Village district, which is under contract with plans for a market-rate multifamily development.
Circle in yellow is the 1.7-acre Parcel U in downtown Orlando's Creative Village district, which is under contract with plans for a market-rate multifamily development. (City of Orlando)

Dallas-based Mill Creek Residential Trust has been chosen as the first third-party purchaser for part of downtown Orlando's 68-acre Creative Village, with a pending contract at $5.5 million and plans in the works for a mixed-use apartment tower.

The national multifamily developer stood above a crowd of bidders in recent months for the 1.7-acre Parcel U, which lies west of Ron Blocker Avenue between Amelia Street and the extension of Alexander Place.

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Mill Creek is planning a 250- to 300-unit tower of market-rate apartments to carry its Modera brand, along with ground-floor commercial for which the square footage has yet to be defined.

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The developer is currently building Modera Central, a 22-story mixed-use apartment tower in downtown on the southwest corner of E. Central Boulevard and S. Rosalind Avenue, which is scheduled to open this summer. Mill Creek ranked no. 4 among the largest apartment developers in the country last year by the National Multifamily Housing Council.

"Creative Village is poised to offer a downtown Orlando experience with significant academic employment, housing and retail opportunities within an urban transit-oriented neighborhood," vice president of development Eran Landry told GrowthSpotter via e-mail on Thursday. "We're excited for the opportunity to be a part of the vision established by the master developer and the city of Orlando."

That $5.5 million price is the city's estimate of fair market value, calculated at approximately $74 per square foot. The rate was offered by Mill Creek as part of a land brokerage process conducted last year by the city's development partner, Creative Village Development, LLC.

A draft purchase agreement is scheduled to go before Orlando's City Council on April 16 with a public hearing. Mill Creek would bring the parcel under contract later this month if approved.

Further details on the project's size and design should come later this year when Mill Creek files a master plan. The land closing would occur by the end of March 2019, and Mill Creek anticipates starting construction in mid-2019, Landry said.

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The city agreed last fall to sell the 1.6-acre Lot M in Creative Village to Ustler Development and a joint venture partner at approximately $80 per square foot, totaling $5.5 million.

They are also planning up to 390 market-rate apartments and 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Plans for Lot M have yet to be filed with the city, and closing on that land purchase is scheduled for this August.

"Mill Creek Residential is the first third-party purchaser at Creative Village and we appreciate their patience and commitment throughout the land brokerage process," said Craig Ustler, president of Ustler Development and a lead figure in Creative Village's master developer entity.

"They are an industry leader that shares our vision for Creative Village, and we believe they will deliver a great urban apartment community as part of the overall vertical development program."

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The city is "looking forward to working with industry-leader Mill Creek on its proposed development in Creative Village to support our vision to bring new residential opportunities and amenities to Orlando's urban core," said Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Site work or vertical construction is underway now on the Creative Village campus' Phase 1 buildings, which include a 15-story student housing tower and UCF's five-story academic commons building, and in the coming months on UCF's four-story parking garage.

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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