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Unicorp buys land for Griffin Farms, sells part to investor partnering on homes

Unicorp buys land for Griffin Farms, sells part to investor partnering on homes
With north to the right side of this image, the 120,000 square feet retail/commercial lie to the right, 265 apartment units and a parking garage are in the center, and 138 planned home sites are on the left. (Unicorp)

Developers of the Griffin Farms Town Center in Lake Mary's emerging Midtown district purchased 33.4 acres of grazing land this week that will soon be prepped for the $200 million commercial and residential development.

Chuck Whittall's Unicorp National Developments bought the land through an affiliate LLC for a total of $12.48 million, according to four deeds recorded Wednesday. The company then sold just over 14 acres for $9 million to Castlelake, a Minneapolis-based investment firm. The land anchors the southwest corner of Lake Mary Boulevard and Longwood-Lake Mary Road.

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Castlelake manages $7.7 billion in assets for more than 110 endowments, foundations, pension plans, companies and wealth funds. The investment firm did not respond to requests for comment.

The company is also a partner with David Weekley Homes in the development of 138 home sites at Griffin Farms, consisting of single-family and two- and three-story townhomes. Development of the residential site will begin later this year and home construction will start in the second quarter of 2017, according to Laurie Wright, spokeswoman for David Weekley Homes.

An early rendering of retail space design for Griffin Farms at Midtown.
An early rendering of retail space design for Griffin Farms at Midtown. (Unicorp)

Unicorp is partnering with Dwight Saathoff's Project Finance & Development LLC on the Griffin Farms project. The development will include 120,000 square feet of retail space, 265 apartment units and a parking garage.

Construction will start no later than November, Whittall said Thursday, and the project should be complete in 2017. Lake Mary city planner Stephen Noto said the city is waiting for Unicorp to submit construction permits so site work can begin.

So far, few tenants for the commercial space have been identified. Whittall said the company has been negotiating with several grocery chains for a 25,000-square-foot space, but declined to name them. Plans submitted to Lake Mary earlier this year included Earth Fare's name as the grocer.

Dunkin Donuts (2,000 SF), 24-Hour Fitness (37,800 SF), Tipsy Salon (2,700 SF) and Square 1 Burgers & Bar (4,200 SF) have been confirmed as future tenants.

Whittall estimated the commercial and multifamily portions of the development will cost around $120 million. He said the partnership has been talking to Goldman Sachs Bank about financing the apartments and Centennial Bank about the retail-commercial piece.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at msalinero@outlook.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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