New artist's renderings released on July 31 for Orlando City Soccer's expanded stadium plans on W. Church Street.
New artist's renderings released on July 31 for Orlando City Soccer's expanded stadium plans on W. Church Street. (provided)

New renderings for a bigger, better Orlando City Soccer Stadium are being splashed all over town, and dirt is moving in preparation for a foundation. Yet most of the land where the stadium would sit is still owned by the City of Orlando.

Following the announcement on Friday of updated plans for the $155-million stadium that will now seat 25,500, Lenny Santiago, spokesman for Orlando City Soccer, told GrowthSpotter the club is still in negotiations with the city to determine fair market value for the majority of the property, a process both sides have been working since at least May 29, when the club said it will finance stadium construction on its own.

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Protracted negotations between the city and club affirm what local commercial property appraisers told GrowthSpotter on Monday: determining fair market value in this case is a major challenge.

Fair market value is determined by what a knowledgeable, willing, and unpressured buyer would probably pay to a knowledgeable, willing and unpressured seller in the market.

The stadium's footprint will encompass 10.58 acres across 12 parcels that lie between W. Central Boulevard, W. Church Street, Glenn Lane to the west, and a point midway between N. Parramore Avenue and S. Terry Avenue to the east.

Eleven of those parcels are city-owned. Orlando City Soccer bought the only privately-owned parcel within the stadium's footprint on July 1, a 2.08-acre parcel at 655 W. Church St. at the corner of N. Parramore Avenue that was owned by Northbrook Properties Inc.

Doc stamps indicate that private parcel was purchased for $5.9 million. Santiago told GrowthSpotter on July 8 that a deal for the remaining city-owned land would be done by late July.

Extrapolating value from the private parcel sale alone, land value within that stadium footprint could be $2.8 million an acre, or $65 per square foot.

That price per square foot is "absolute prime hospital property," or land prepped for a high-density tower off Orange Avenue in downtown, said four local appraisers Monday, all of whom asked to speak off the record about the high-profile property negotiation.

Assuming the other 11 city-owned parcels (8.5 acres) are valued based on that private sale, total price of the city land could be $23.8 million.

But that value of $65 per square foot is likely far higher than fair market value for the economically deprived Parramore neighborhood, appraisers say, based on what else the 11 parcels would be developed for if a sports stadium or city facility aren't built there.

Deeper comparisons for an appraisal case like this should include determining the best and highest use of the property, and finding comparables from other cities for stadiums of similar size where the owner/developer had to acquire land.

Appraisers said they would also research every small parcel sale in a general vicinity of the stadium site within the past few months to determine a comparables database for the neighborhood, since it's nearly impossible to find another 10-acre contiguous site nearby that has sold.

Complexity of the appraisal process is compounded by the investment city government has already made in environmental cleanup work for the site over the past year. The club is also expected to cover the cost of storm water retention work for the site, which a city official estimated in May was valued at about $3.1 million.

The city also has an incentive to sell the land at its highest price possible, not just for the immediate income but also to get it on the tax roll as a privately-owned stadium that will generate tax revenue.

Orlando City Soccer has mounting pressure to arrive at a deal, as it said Friday it wants to get the stadium done within a year to open around this time in 2016, for the last few months of next year's MLS season.

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tburney@growthspotter.com or (407) 420 6261; or bmoser@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5685

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