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New Townhome Designs Available at Eagle Creek

24 Mar 2014, 5:05 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Standard Pacific Homes has recently introduced The Townhomes at Eagle Creek community, inviting enquirers for a tour in two of the model homes. Located at Eagle Creek, just two miles south of SR 417 on Narcoosee Road, the new designs offer home buyers a country club lifestyle.

Founded in Southern California in 1965, Standard Pacific Homes is specialized in the development of multifamily projects with decades of land acquisition, development and homebuilding expertise. The company currently offers new homes in major metropolitan areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

Undoubtedly, one of the main attractions of Eagle Creek is its 4.5 star championship golf course. The master-planned community also features a 14,000-square-foot clubhouse and a golf pro shop. It also takes pride in over 400 acres of open space that encompasses lakes, wetlands and trails. The new homes offer easy and quick access to Orlando International Airport, Medical City’s numerous facilities and institutions and several Lake Nona schools.

The home interiors thrive in thoughtful design elements including gourmet kitchens with slab-granite countertops, spacious Great Rooms and dual master suites with coffered ceilings. Mediterranean style concrete tile roofs and rich exterior architectural finishes add to the overall country club feel. Jay Lewis, Orlando President for Standard Pacific Homes thinks the townhome designs turned out to be so cozy they resemble single-family homes, he said in a recent statement.

“The thoughtful architectural details make it a one-of-a-kind community, where home shoppers are sure to find the home of their dreams,” he says.

Home prices start at around $228,000 and buyers can choose form two 1,697 square-foot floor plans either with 2 or 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.

Photo credits: Standard Pacific Homes

McCraney’s Dade Paper Project Awarded Industrial Development of the Year

7 Mar 2014, 7:47 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

NAIOP Central Florida Chapter has distinguished McCraney Property Company’s Dade Paper project with the “Industrial Development of the Year” title. Presented at the Best of the Best Awards Gala, the award recognizes Dade Paper’s 150,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Central Florida Distribution Center and Offices for its overall design to meet the needs of the end user.

The company is specialized in commercial distribution properties with services including acquisitions, joint venture investments and construction, with special emphasis on property management and development of Class A business parks. It is focused mainly on industrial and warehouse projects in West Palm Beach, the Treasure Coast and Orlando, Florida. McCraney’s holdings exceed 2,500,000 square feet.

Located in McCraney’s 25-acre John Young Business Park, the industrial facility was the first building in a portfolio of three, totaling 393,000 square feet.  MPC committed to develop the project in its joint venture with Clarion Partners. General contractor for the project was Edwards Construction Services, Inc. and The Corrales Group Architects planned the building with the involvement of Smiley & Associates, Inc.  as engineering consultant.

Usage of quality materials with superior construction techniques, compatibility with the natural surroundings, advanced technology and exceptional results achieved by all members of the development team have also been mentioned among the project’s main virtues.

Steven E. McCraney, CEO of McCraney Property Company revealed the company’s purpose to submitting its two latest projects for next year’s Best of the Best Awards.

“Being recognized by our peers at NAIOP means a lot to us,” he adds.

Photo credits: Edwards Construction Services

Orlando’s First Community Solar Farm Started Production in OUC’s Gardenia Campus

7 Mar 2014, 1:14 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

ESA Renewables has recently announced the completion of the first community solar farm in Orlando. The 2.5-acre array has a 400 kW output and as a community solar farm, it is only the second of its kind in the whole of the Sunshine State.

Set up in the parking area of Orlando Utilities Commission’s Gardenia Campus at 3800 Gardenia Avenue, the panels are expected to produce about 540,000 kWh a year while also providing shade for the cars parking underneath them. The output should be enough to meet the power needs of 40 homes and is the equivalent to avoiding 949,316 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Not long ago, OUC has offered customers the opportunity to purchase blocks of solar power and this resulted in a smashing success, the 39 subscriptions having been sold out in less than a week. For an optional number of solar power blocks up to 15 kW, subscribers will pay a fixed rate for 25 years. The amount of energy produced by these blocks appears on their monthly electricity bills. In other words, the method is similar to rooftop panels, sparing subscribers the trouble of up-front expenses, installation or equipment maintenance costs. It also allows renters and condo owners to join the club, as well as customers whose rooftops are shaded by trees or nearby buildings.

The array was commissioned in October by ESA and has been acquired by Spear Point Energy. Further companies involved in the project include Sylvester and Cockrum, ReneSola, Advanced Energy, Chint and Schletter. OUC has agreed to purchase the generated power from Spear Point Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Photo credits: Orlando Utilities Commission

Universal’s Growth Brings 3,500 New Jobs

26 Feb 2014, 4:25 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The upcoming expansion at Universal Orlando Resort will create 3,500 new permanent jobs during 2014, according to the management’s announcement. That is about the same amount of employees as Universal Orlando has hired in the past four years.

The addition of a new 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach Resort, eight new CityWalk venues and the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley calls for the establishment of a wide range of managerial, professional, high-tech, guest service and other positions. These include management opportunities in theme park operations, food and beverage, retail and hospitality; skilled technical positions; culinary positions as well as hourly positions in guest services in various areas of operation. More than one third of the new jobs will be managerial or other highly skilled positions.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, for the time being, is a more than 20-acre construction site at Universal Studios, soon to become home to Universal Orlando’s newest theme park entertainment project. A similar project is already present at the Universal’s Islands of Adventure since 2010, called Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

A new, 1,800-room hotel is also among the additions. The Cabana Bay Beach Resort, to be inaugurated later this year, will be Universal Orlando’s fourth on-site hotel and will include 900 family suites and 900 standard guest rooms.

The transformation of CityWalk is already in progress since late 2013 and will bring a total of eight new venues to the entertainment complex by the end of this year.

Image of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort


W. P. Carey Buys Self-Storage Property in Greater Orlando

14 Feb 2014, 9:50 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

W. P. Carey Inc. took a dynamic start this year, having recently announced that one of its publicly held non-traded affiliates, CPA®:18 – Global acquired two Florida self-storage facilities last month, one of which is located in the Greater Orlando, Fla. area.

W. P. Carey is a leading global net-lease REIT that owns and manages an investment portfolio totaling more than $15 billion. It is the ninth largest owner of self-storage properties in the United States, owning and managing 9.26 million net rentable square feet in 153 properties. The REIT affected $121 million of self-storage acquisitions in 2013, purchasing 13 properties in Florida, California, New York, Hawaii and Georgia on behalf of its managed REITs. 

“Having added four Florida storage assets to our managed portfolios during 2013, we continue to be attracted by the overall strength of the Florida storage market,” says Liz Raun Schlesinger, managing director at W. P. Carey.

Located in Kissimmee, Fla., south of Orlando, Fla., as well as St. Petersburg, Fla. and Tampa Bay, Fla., both Class A facilities in question will be managed by Extra Space Storage.  The aggregate purchase price was about $24.6 million for the two properties with acquisition financing totaling $14.5 million.  With the recent acquisition, W. P. Carey currently manages a total of 699,674 square feet of self-storage space in 10 properties across the Sunshine State. The new Central Florida facility contributes to this number with 83,280 net rentable square feet in 981 units, whilst the one in St. Petersburg adds 85,842 net rentable square feet in 882 slightly smaller units.

Illustration courtesy of Hankwang via Wikimedia Commons 

New Construction Phases Beginning in Providence Golf Community

12 Feb 2014, 8:49 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Providence luxury gated golf community in Davenport is facing a significant gain as a group of developers answer the demand for new construction. Beside the community’s main developer, ABD Development, builders currently constructing new homes in Providence include Park Square, Lennar, Richmond American and D.R. Horton.

Park Square Homes has already begun to build houses in Rosemont Woods, which will be used mainly as short term rentals. The houses will be later managed by the Contempo Group.

Fortune 500 builder Lennar Homes’ new phase of single family homes is being constructed at Lakeside Villas at Providence. A range of larger models are also planned for Victoria Woods. Lennar’s current model homes are situated in the section known as Cortland Woods.

Richmond American Homes, also a Fortune 500 home builder, proposed to finish its model home in Drayton Woods by the end of January. Five spec homes are currently underway.

D.R. Horton will also be offering its line of models in Drayton Woods. The company is the latest developer to get involved in Providence with numerous lots slated for new homes in close proximity to the golf course. Its Emerald division will be developing 91 lots at Fairway Villas, one of the newer areas in Providence.

Located in the Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area, Providence broke ground in 2005 and has already pocketed Forbes’ distinction, falling into line with the top ten best real estate investments, though still under development. The business magazine selected the area as #8 on the list of most appealing locations from an entrepreneurial point of view, regions that were calculated to give investors the best return on investment.

Photo credits: Providence Golf Club

Embassy Suites Orlando-Lake Buena Vista Sold, Awaits Renovation

3 Feb 2014, 9:42 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Embassy Suites Orlando-Lake Buena Vista has recently changed hands, as Embassy Suites GF Management recently announced. The company’s affiliate, ESLBV Property Owner LLC has purchased the 334-room hospitality complex.

Embassy Suites GF Management is a leading national hotel ownership and management company that currently owns or manages 19 hotels under the Hilton Worldwide family of brands, including three Embassy Suites. The latest transaction marks the second Hilton branded acquisition this year for GF Management. The firm acquired its first hotel in 1988 and has since added 131 further hospitality assets to its owned and managed portfolio, totaling over 20,000 rooms.

Minutes from Sea World Orlando and Universal Studios Orlando, less than one mile from Walt Disney World Resort, the property is conveniently located in Orlando’s southwestern submarkets, surrounded by numerous leisure and business destinations. The 334 two-room suites feature modern in room amenities such as refrigerators, microwaves and sofa beds. Further features the hotel has to offer include tennis courts, indoor/outdoor pools, sand volleyball, a fitness center and an event space with a capacity of up to 230 guests. In accordance with every Embassy Suites hotel, a nightly Complimentary Evening Reception and cooked-to-order breakfast are also available at Embassy Suites Orlando-Lake Buena Vista.

The hotel at 8100 Lake St, Orlando, will continue operation as part of the Embassy Suites brand and will undergo a $13 million+ renewal during the year to come.

Photo credits: Embassy Suites Hotels (Hilton)

Four Metro Orlando Office Buildings Sold

3 Feb 2014, 9:22 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

In two major investment sales, four of metro Orlando’s office buildings changed hands recently using the brokerage services of Lincoln Property Company Southeast. The properties totaling more than 182,000 square feet sold for an aggregate of $8.7 million.

The properties involved are Corporate Park I and II, respectively, and Premier Point North and South. Joe Rossi, senior vice president of investment services for Lincoln, represented the seller in both transactions. UP Fieldgate US Investments-Fashion Square, LLC acquired the former complex whereas Vista Premier Point, LLC purchased the latter two.

Senior vice president for Lincoln Scott Stahley oversees the firm’s Orlando office. He told the press that the company has seen an improvement in the Orlando office market lately.

“As investors begin to chase higher yields, we expect to see this result in greater investor interest in Orlando office properties in the coming year,” said the executive.  “The transaction pace should be brisk,” he adds.

Corporate Park I and II, previously owned by RGA Real Estate Holdings, sold for $4.75 million. The two buildings totaling 86,980 square feet feature three stories each and are located in Baldwin Park and Winter Park, near downtown Orlando. Scott Corbin of Colliers International represented the buyer.

Premier Point North and South are conveniently located along South Westmonte Dr. in Altamonte Springs, near Interstate 4, Florida Hospital and Altamonte Mall.  Vista Premier Point, LLC purchased the two buildings from RGA Reinsurance Co. The 95,277 square feet of office space went off for the price of $3.95 million and Lincoln’s Joe Rossi was the only broker involved in the transaction.

Photo credits: Lincoln Property Company Southeast


Bella Vita Place Community Sold for $11.6M

20 Jan 2014, 7:24 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The 192-unit apartment complex in the northwestern submarket of Orlando changed hands just recently, with Miami-based Rivergate Partners acquiring the property for $11.6 million.

Apartment Realty Advisors’ sales team made up of Principals Kevin Judd, Patrick Dufour, Richard Donnellan and Vice President Matt Wilcox spoke for the seller in the transaction. The community, which is located less than six miles from Downtown Orlando and three miles from MetroWest, is directly accessible from Central Business District which means 1,100 businesses and more than 65,000 employees within reach.

It follows that the apartments also offer great access to popular sites such as the Florida Citrus Bowl, the Amway Center and the soon to be completed Creative Village and Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Constructed in 1996, Bella Vita Place used to be a Tax Credit property. It has recently been reverted to market rate rental structure and was 96% occupied at the time of acquisition. Rivergate saw a unique investment opportunity in this, said Jay Massirman to the press. The company plans to carry out a number of value add upgrades on the community in order to enhance its infrastructure.

The gated community boasts spacious two-bedroom and three-bedroom floor plans averaging 1,102 square feet.  The apartments are equipped with air conditioning, tile floors, walk-in closets, dishwashers, washer dryer hookups and other amenities. Community features include a large swimming pool, club house, playground, and a fitness center.

Photo credits:  Rivergate Partners

Roger B. Kennedy, Inc. Starts the Year with Groundbreaking on $50M Worth of Hospitality Projects

13 Jan 2014, 8:36 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

A suburban-Orlando company, based in Altamonte Springs, is starting the New Year by breaking ground on $50 million of Orlando-area vacation club and timeshare resort projects according to Roger B. Kennedy, Jr. president of Roger B. Kennedy Inc.

Roger B. Kennedy, Inc. was founded in 1870 by Irish immigrant Roger Kennedy and has since stayed under the descendants’ control, says the corporate website. The Orlando office started its operations in 1972 and now the company is ranked as Central Florida’s eighth fastest-growing company. Specialized in multi-family, hospitality, commercial and healthcare projects including apartments, condominiums, student housing, hotels, timeshare resorts, sports facilities, medical and office buildings, Roger B. Kennedy, Inc. offers mainly construction and pre-construction services.

Groundbreaking for Silver Lake Resort’s $6 million, six-story, 24-unit Building 1900 at 7751 Black Lake Road, Kissimmee was held January 6. The company started Regal Oaks Resort’s $22.4 million vacation club phases 2, 3, 4 and its 21,151 square foot clubhouse and pool at 5780 Golden Hawk Way, adjacent to Kissimmee’s Old Town attraction, on December 10 (the fourth phase starts February 24). Kennedy also broke ground December 2 for Westgate Resorts’ $21.5 million, eight-story, 80-unit Westgate Town Center, Building 6200, at 2770 N. Old Lake Wilson Road, Kissimmee.

The Regal Oaks Resort and Silver Lake Resort projects were designed respectively by Maitland group Charlan, Brock & Associates and Charles H. Parsons Architect, P.A., based in Kissimmee. Their delivery is expected in the course of this year. Westgate Resort’s Building 6200 is slated for completion in April 2015 and was designed by General Design Architecture, Branson, Mo.

Rendering courtesy of Roger B. Kennedy, Inc.

KBS Strategic Opportunity REIT Buys Orlando’s Maitland Promenade II for $31.2M

6 Jan 2014, 7:43 pm

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Maitland Promenade II, a Class-A office building in Orlando’s Maitland Center submarket changed hands at the end of 2013. It was purchased by KBS Strategic Opportunity REIT for $31.2 million plus closing cost. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based public non-traded real estate investment trust announced the acquisition on December 30.  Florida’s Flagler Development Company was the building’s previous owner.

Maitland Promenade II is located at 495 N. Keller Road near the intersection of Maitland Boulevard. It is less than a mile away from Interstate 4. The five-story building offers 230,366 square feet of office space. Amenities include on-site cafe, a fitness center, a covered parking garage and more. Maitland Promenade II was 77.2 percent leased at the time of the sale, according to KBS. Its tenant roster includes such companies as Star Networks (First Data), United Healthcare, Zurich Insurance, Akerman, Senterfitt and Edison and New York Life.

“We believe Maitland Promenade II is one of a handful of assets that tenants consider when looking for Class-A office space with efficient floor plates and covered parking in Maitland,” says KBS Capital Advisors Senior VP, Jeff Rader. “The Maitland submarket has benefited from its proximity to the Orlando Central Business District and we anticipate increased activity as tenants consider assets like Maitland Promenade II as a suburban alternative.”

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services reports that office vacancy in the Greater Orlando area plunged in the first half of 2013 to 16.6 percent, the lowest level in four years. In spite of this, the Maitland submarket underperformed the metro and saw office vacancy rise to 26.6 percent. Demand for office space is strong, thanks to the improving economy and the relative lack of construction, and Marcus & Millichap reports that the Orlando office vacancy could end the year at 16.4 percent, the lowest year-end reading in five years.

Photo credits: http://www.maitlandpromenade2.info/
Charts courtesy of Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services.


Orlando’s Bala Sands Apartments Community Changes Hands

20 Dec 2013, 11:36 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Cushman & Wakefield of Florida recently announced the sale of Bala Sands Apartments in Orlando, Fla.

The Carroll Organization acquired the 298-unit Class A property, while the seller’s identity has not been made public. The latter was represented by C&W’s Multifamily Advisory Services team of Senior Director Jay Ballard, Associate Director Ken Delvillar and Associate Lindsey Pfaender. The transaction was worth $36.3 million, in other words $121,812 per unit or $111 per square foot, as Bala Sands incorporates a total of 326,918 square feet of living space.

Cushman & Wakefield is the world’s largest privately-held commercial real estate services firm representing clients on all aspects of property occupancy and investment. With 253 offices in 60 countries and nearly 15,000 employees it has more than $4 billion in assets under management globally.

The Carroll Organization announced its plans to complete minor upgrades to the units and amenities and rebrand the community as ARIUM Bala Sands, accommodating it in its extensive ARIUM family that is already present in Orlando with two properties, the 300-unit ARIUM Falcon Pines and the 526-unit ARIUM Barber Park. Carroll’s Florida portfolio now includes 11 properties, nine of which are part of the ARIUM brand.

“The Carroll Organization was able to complete the purchase of Bala Sands at a volatile time within the debt markets,” says Ballard. “The asset will be a strong addition the Carroll Organization’s portfolio as it continues its expansion throughout the Southeast.”

Photo credits: Carroll Organization

IHG Opens Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Near UCF

13 Dec 2013, 10:46 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

InterContinental Hotels Group recently announced that its new Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Orlando East – UCF Area is open to the public. Owned and managed by PRM Hotels, Inc., the property is franchised by an affiliate of IHG. At 12250 E. Colonial Drive, the building is located within a quick walk of the University of Central Florida, Central Florida Research Park and Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation. Brighthouse Networks Stadium, CFE Arena and the Amway Center are also in close range.

IHG‘s Holiday Inn Express portfolio currently includes more than 2,200 modern hotels targeting value-oriented business and leisure travelers. The company franchises, leases, manages or owns a total of more than 4,600 hotel locations with 679,000 guest rooms worldwide and expects to hire around 90,000 new employees over the next few years as the portfolio grows. IHG currently operates 12 hotels in Orlando and has 3 more in the pipeline.

The new 91-room establishment is the first new hotel in East Orlando opened in the past eight years. The hotel also features 28 suites and offers a broad array of amenities such as a 24-hour fitness center, a Sundry Shop and a business center with Mac and PC computers alike, large desks, ergonomic chairs, high-speed Internet access, free local phone and toll free phones with private voicemail. The building has been designed according to the Holiday Inn family’s $1 billion global brand relaunch guidelines, which includes a contemporary image with a redesigned brand logo and signage and as part of the fresh approach. The company plans to concentrate more on arrival and welcome services, as well as guestroom and guest bath comfort.

Photo credits: InterContinental Hotels Group

Colliers International Brokers $1.4 Million Industrial Sale

9 Dec 2013, 7:53 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

RL MIT LLC has purchased 2175 Premier Row in Orlando, a freestanding industrial building that more investors have set eyes on. The sale, led by Colliers International agents, was worth $1,393,600.

Matt Sullivan, Wilson McDowell and Bobby Isola of the firm’s Central Florida office represented the seller, while Lee Morris of Cushman & Wakefield spoke for the buyer. The seller, Juice Juice & Juice, Inc. received offers from four different companies and the property finally sold above asking price which indicates an increased interest for quality Central Florida industrial assets.

“This is one of the nicest industrial buildings that’s been available in the area for a while, and it commanded a price-per-square-foot higher than we’ve seen for a warehouse in the market for over a year,” says McDowell. “There are a lot of companies looking for nice buildings right now, and this transaction is evidence that some companies are willing to pay a premium for them.”

The 20,207-square-foot property, located in Orlando Central Park, between Chancellor Drive and Dividend Drive, includes 3,456 square feet of office space and features rear loading and tilt-wall construction. It is just minutes away from the Florida Turnpike-Beachline Expressway interchange and also offers easy access to Orange Blossom Trail, John Young Parkway and Sand Lake Road.

A global leader in commercial real estate services with more than 13,500 professionals operating out of more than 482 offices in 62 countries, Colliers International is the second-most recognized commercial real estate firm in the world according to Lipsey Company’s latest annual survey.

Photo credits: Google Maps

Crescent Central Station to Be Built by Winter Park Construction

2 Dec 2013, 10:23 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

With pedestrian connectivity to LYNX and the highly anticipated SunRail commuter rail service, a linear park and a pedestrian plaza nearby, Crescent Central Station will be Downtown Orlando’s first truly transit oriented development. Crescent Communities picked Winter Park Construction to construct the luxury urban infill, mid-rise/mixed-use project.

The development is only the first phase of an overall master plan affecting a whole city block, with office buildings, a structured parking and a hotel to come. The building, designed by Lord, Aeck & Sargent will include a seven-story concrete parking garage surrounded by five stories of wood-framed multifamily units over a double-height concrete podium incorporating approximately 12,000 square feet of retail space. Apartment floor plans will range from studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans up to two-story brownstone-style townhomes. The $39 million, 279-unit project includes further enhancements such as a terrace-level sun deck, courtyard pool, lounge space, fitness center, a pet grooming salon and bike repair shop.

With the site located on Orange Avenue, between Amelia Street and Livingston Street, Crescent Central Station will be just a few blocks away from downtown. Groundbreaking is scheduled in November and the six-story building is expected to begin preleasing next autumn.

WPC is considered one of the nation’s most respected general contractors and leading construction companies. The developer earns about $150 million in annual revenue and has more than 1.75 billion square feet of completed projects on its reference-list, including 25,000 multifamily units, 15,000 timeshare units and 3,000 hotel rooms. For 40 years, the company has provided pre-construction, general contracting, construction management, and green building services throughout the U.S.

Photo credits: Lord, Aeck & Sargent


The Marketing Directors to market Mirasol at Celebration

27 Nov 2013, 4:10 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Marketing Directors LLC has expanded its condominium portfolio by providing residential sales and marketing for Orlando’s Mirasol at Celebration and three other neighborhoods in Florida and Texas. The addition consists of 353 units valued at more than $110M in Tampa’s Town Park Villas, The Palazzo on St. Johns in Jacksonville, The Strand Lofts of Galveston in Texas and the above community.

Founded in 2007, the company congregates highly experienced real estate professionals in the Southeast to service developers specializing in high-density residential sales and repositioning marketing strategies. David Tufts, president of The Marketing Directors is pleased with their achievements.

“It’s clear that the tide has turned in the condominium market. “The Marketing Directors LLC is positioned well to leverage the renewed interest in development and conversions nationally as well as the ongoing demand by consumers for these amenity rich lifestyle communities,” he says.

Mirasol at Celebration is located within walking distance of Celebration’s Town Center, 10 minutes from Walt Disney World and 20 minutes from Universal Studios, Sea World and the Orlando International Airport. The community offers luxury residences with 10-foot ceilings, spacious floor plans and plenty of sunlight. Homeowners also have access to services such as full-time concierge, private day spa, personalized fitness training and a swimming pool with sundecks. Mirasol takes pride in several national recognitions such as National Association of Home Builders’ Best Interior Design Award and the Gold Winner title in Home Overseas Magazine’s Best Apartment – Florida category .

Photo credits: Mirasol at Celebration

Howard Haynes Joins Hill International’s Orlando Office

19 Nov 2013, 5:15 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Howard H. Haynes Jr., P.E. (Professional Engineer), CCE (Certified Cost Engineer), has joined the Hill International as senior vice president, the company announced last Wednesday. Haynes is now in charge of the firm’s Construction Claims Group operations in Florida.

Hill International employs 4,000 operators in 100 offices worldwide. The company is the ninth largest U.S. construction management firm and the largest independent one according to Engineering News-Record magazine. Hill provides program management, project management, construction management, construction claims and other consulting services primarily to the buildings, transportation, environmental, energy and industrial markets.

Frank J. Giunta, P.E., senior vice president and managing director (Americas) for Hill’s Construction Claims Group told the press that their team is excited that Haynes has joined the firm and they welcome him to lead its Florida claims operation.

“We are confident his experience and skill set will be a perfect fit for our firm and our clients,” Giunta says.

Before joining Hill International, Haynes was senior vice president with Delta Consulting Group for four years and president at Haynes Massa & Associates from 2000 to 2009.  He has also held positions as senior engineer at Day & Zimmermann, senior project manager at OBrien-Kreitzberg and later at URS Corp. for shorter periods of time during the late 1990s. His expertise includes project controls, project management, cost engineering, contract administration, financial analysis, cost and price determinations, planning, scheduling, and construction claims analysis. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University in 1984, worked for the U.S. Navy as Civil Engineer Corps Officer and obtained his Master’s degree in financial management from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1992.

His earlier assignments include providing claims consulting for a $200 million theme park construction program, expert testimony on several construction claims at three separate international airports and several multi-million dollar highways and bridges, expert services on behalf of a developer for a $60 million mixed-use urban retail center and construction management oversight and claims consulting services on several large transportation projects including interchange projects, segmental and steel bridge projects valued at $1 billion.

Photo courtesy of Howard H. Haynes via LinkedIn

HGI’s Recent Acquisition Includes Two Orlando Communities

8 Nov 2013, 11:20 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Harbor Group International, LLC announced that affiliates of the company have acquired three Florida apartment communities. Two of the properties, the 272-unit West Winds and the 210-unit Verandahs at Hunt Club are located in Orlando, while the 146-unit Forestlake Apartments is in Daytona Beach, within walking distance from Daytona Beach International Airport and Bellevue Business Park.

The private real estate investment and management firm is headquartered in Norfolk, Va. and has offices in New York and Tel Aviv. HGI claims to have exceeded the $3.8 billion threshold regarding its worldwide assets. The company’s holdings include more than 24,500 apartment units and more than 8.5 million square feet of commercial properties. Nine of Harbor Groups’ previously acquired multifamily properties are located in Florida. During the past three years they closed four multifamily portfolio transactions that included 7,500 units in 22 properties.

Now the company plans to raise capital of the three freshly bought communities by nearly $2.2 million. T. Richard Litton, Jr., President of HGI told the press that he considers Orlando and Daytona Beach “the right markets for our continued investment strategy throughout Florida.” He added that “HGI continues to actively pursue portfolio acquisitions that provide us unique opportunities to provide returns to our investors.”

Situated on 20 acres in central Orlando, just two blocks from Universal Studios, West Winds holds 19 garden style buildings. The property was built in 1985 and features five floor plan options of one- or two-bedroom apartments that range in size from 509 square feet to 986 square feet. The 21 buildings of Verandahs at Hunt Club, were built in the same year, on a slightly larger parcel near the intersection of Semoran and Hunt Club Boulevards. The 21-acre property features units with a patio, a den, living room, dining room, bathroom, full kitchen and up to three bedrooms. The average size of the apartments is 1,185 square feet.

Photo credits: Harbor Group

Marriott Grande Pines Golf Club Redevelopment on the Horizon

4 Nov 2013, 4:18 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Marriott is awaiting Orange County commissioners’ approval to redevelop Marriott Grande Pines Golf Club into a mixed-use property. Apartments, timeshares, hotel rooms and commercial space are included in the plan.

Marriott Vacation Club entrusted Jim Hall of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. with representing the group at the rezoning negotiations with the county. The plan was introduced on a community meeting in mid-October. The procedure should continue with the Development Review Committee’s approval of the change in land use, with the final step being the public hearing before Orange County Commission.

If the plan goes through, the 207-acre golf course will be enriched by 2,384 apartments, 100 timeshare units, 150 hotel rooms and 120,000 square feet of commercial space. The development would also bring temporary and permanent jobs, tax income to the county and increased revenue to the neighborhood. The property, wedged between Westwood Boulevard and International Drive is adjacent SeaWorld Orlando and in close proximity to Universal Orlando Resort and Disney World.

Hall told the Orlando Business Journal that 20 acres of the plot has never been developed, but it’s unclear whether Marriott wishes to exploit it now or reserve it for a future design. Earlier in October the same source reported that Integra Land Co. also plans to break ground in December on a $40 million apartment project at close quarters, virtually on the same block. The 338-unit residential complex will be built at the western tail of Central Florida Parkway and it is also expected to bring a couple-hundred construction jobs to the area. Construction of the latter is declared to be ready in mid-2015.

Photo courtesy of Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons


Site Work Has Begun on Darden HQ Hotel

25 Oct 2013, 7:18 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Darden Restaurants’ headquarters already has a gym, and a cafeteria with take-home meals. The company giant recently started development on its long-awaited HQ hotel project too. With the construction finally underway, the building is expected to be finalized within 10 months to one year from now. Moreover, Darden spokesman Rich Jeffers told Orlando Sentinel that they would like to see the hotel open this time next year. He didn’t disclose lease terms however.

The hotel, which would be a Courtyard by Marriott, will include 128 rooms and will be developed by Concord Hospitality Enterprises of Raleigh, N.C. It will mostly serve as lodging headquarters for workers attending Darden’s restaurant support center’s training sessions. Darden’s construction site is located on the corner of John Young Parkway and Taft Vineland Road, on a 64-acre campus southwest from downtown Orlando.

An Orlando development firm had been entrusted to start construction in spring 2011 with hopes of a mid-2012 inauguration, but plans had stalled in the meantime prompting the company to look for a new developer to keep the project alive. Even splitting the whole company in two had recently been considered, according to an earlier article in South Florida Business Journal. Orlando’s only Fortune 500 company, Darden Restaurants Inc. owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other brands, and is one of Central Florida’s largest employers with more than 6,000 employees.

Photo credits: Darden Restaurants Inc.

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