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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

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