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CBRE’s John Gilbert Transfers to JLL as Managing Director in Orlando

11 Jul 2014, 7:12 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. has recently welcomed John Gilbert to its Orlando team. Gilbert was hired as managing director in early July and he will focus on growing the firm’s office agency leasing practice in the Central Florida market.

JLL is a professional services and investment management firm with over 200 corporate offices in 75 countries, employing 650 specialists in Florida only. The firm offers specialized real estate services to owners, tenants and investors alike. With annual fee revenue of $4 billion, it provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 3 billion square feet and has completed $99 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions last year.

Formerly a Senior Vice President in the Orlando market for CBRE, Gilbert has spent the past 14 years working in the area and has more than 20 years of experience behind his back in the commercial real estate industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in finance and real estate from Florida State University in Tallahassee. According to a written announcement released by JLL, the veteran office broker has completed more than 650 sale and lease transactions over his career, totaling more than $590 million in value. He has represented investors as well as institutional and private owners.

As an active member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Gilbert is a licensed real estate salesperson in Florida. The Orlando Chapter of NAIOP has granted Gilbert the Office Broker of the Year Award in 2007 and 2012.

Image source: John Gilbert via LinkedIn

Gated Golf Course Community Opens in Orlando

4 Jul 2014, 5:52 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Reserve at Alaqua, a private golf course community in northeastern Orlando is now available to future residents. Located at 3109 Players View Circle in Longwood, within the Alaqua Country Club, the homes are close to Wekiva Preserve.

Founded in Southern California in 1965 Standard Pacific Homes is a company involved mainly in building high-quality homes and neighborhoods with experience in land acquisition, development and architecture. The firm currently offers new homes in major metropolitan areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

The community is on a prestigious 18-hole championship golf course adjacent to Wekiva Preserve, which is 45,000 acres of nature preserve that allows for a close-to-nature atmosphere with an abundance of wildlife and miles of walking trails. In addition, homeowners will have easy access to Interstate 4 and major commuter routes, numerous shopping and entertainment venues at the Colonial Town Park and Oakmonte Plaza, as well as to fine education at the Seminole County School District.

The community offers a choice of six different home designs, ranging from 3,200 to 4,200 square feet in size. With up to five bedrooms and six baths, and the interiors feature spacious great rooms, gourmet kitchens, a spa-like master bath and quality interior furnishings. The exterior design is conceived to exploit and accentuate the virtues of the natural surroundings. Accordingly, the outdoor areas home include a lānai, a Hawaiian-inspired roofed open-sided veranda. Separated only by lakes and the golf fairway, the homes come equipped with spacious two-car and split three-car garages and the 24-hour guarded community features a fully appointed clubhouse.

Photo credits: Standard Pacific Homes

Osprey Links at Hunter’s Creek Changes Hands

30 Jun 2014, 3:28 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The 424-unit, Class A multifamily apartment community located in south Orlando is now the property of Milestone Apartments REIT as a result of a $50.7 million transaction announced recently by the investment trust. An affiliate of The Milestone Group LLC was part-owner in the joint venture that sold the property, possessing a minority interest in the enterprise.

As part of the purchase consideration, the REIT is assuming approximately US$26.1 million in debt at a fixed rate of 4.57 percent maturing on January 1, 2018. The remaining US$24.6 million of the purchase price was funded using proceeds from the REIT’s recent equity bought deal financing and from the refinancing of its US$228.6 million mortgage debt facility, both completed in April 2014.

Built in 1996, the property is part of the 4,000-acre Hunter’s Creek community. Osprey Links features 29 acres and offers access to the master planned development’s “A” rated public elementary, middle and high schools as well as to an abundance of parks and recreational amenities, such as the Hunter’s Creek Golf Course. Its location is also proximate to several dining, shopping and entertainment venues. The area has some of the city’s largest employers like Walt Disney World, Orlando International Airport, the Osceola County / City of Kissimmee Government Center, and Lake Nona’s Medical City. Sixteen different floor plans are available from 855 to 1,623 square feet and up to three bedrooms.

The average monthly in-place rent at Osprey Links is $1,063 per apartment and 96 percent of the units are currently occupied.

Photo credits: Milestone Apartments

Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista Sold

20 Jun 2014, 5:07 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

ROCH Capital has recently acquired the Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista from Vista Hospitality Company. The new owners commissioned Portfolio Hotels to manage the asset.

The 503-room hotel in Orlando changed hands with HFF acting on behalf of the seller in the transaction and the investment sales team was led by director Michael Weinberg along with director Max Comess. Michael Weinberg sees an upswing in hotel investments in the form of both debt and equity capital.

“There just isn’t enough supply of transactions on the market to meet the demand which is creating competition from buyers and lenders,” he says.

As reported by a written announcement released by Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, ROCH Capital purchased the asset free and clear of debt.

Located at 13351 S. Apopka Vineland Road in the southwestern region of Orlando, the hotel is in the immediate vicinity of Walt Disney World Resort, proximate to SeaWorld Orlando and has Universal Orlando Resorts and Orlando International Airport within easy reach. Its amenities include 7,000 square feet of meeting space, a resort-style outdoor swimming pool, a new Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, as well as a fitness center, basketball court, children’s club, gift shop and business center. It offers a wide range of suites from traditional guest rooms to junior and kids’ units and also a presidential suite.

The hotel is part of a three-property portfolio including the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fort Lauderdale that was sold in March, respectively Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown which is still on the market. According to Real Capital Analytics, the sale of Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista was the largest hotel transaction brokered this year in Orlando.

Photo courtesy of Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista via PH Lake Buena Vista

Orlando City SC Makes MLS Stadium Renderings Public

13 Jun 2014, 6:06 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Exterior and interior visualizations for the new downtown Major League Soccer stadium have recently been unveiled. President and founder of Orlando City Soccer Club Phil Rawlins, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer presented the renderings to the public.

The facility will be owned and operated by the City of Orlando via Orlando Venues, the same entity that owns and operates the Amway Center and the Citrus Bowl. Funding for the stadium has been secured from the Club, State of Florida, City of Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County and Osceola County.

Designed by Populous, the new arena with a total capacity of around 19,500 fans will feature a full 360-degree lower bowl and a three-stand seating upper bowl with full roof canopies covering all seats on the east, west and north ends of the building. Besides protecting supporters from the elements, these also have the role of amplifying the crowd noise.

Orlando City SC asks the fans to participate in the design process with their ideas. Since the review of all fan submissions will be followed by the design team’s workshop involving a group of respondents, the architectural renderings are also subject to modifications during the full design process.

The new stadium is built on Church Street, within the sports and entertainment district of the city. Being just one block away from the Amway Center, its location allows for cooperation between the two facilities and an increased activity in the area.

The complex is slated for completion prior to the Major League Soccer season of 2016.

Photo credits: Orlando City Soccer Club


Victoria Park Apartments Refinanced

7 Jun 2014, 12:38 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

NorthMarq arranged a $36.3 million refinance for Victoria Park Apartments in Metro Orlando through its relationship with a CMBS lender.

The refinance was structured with a 10-year term and three-year interest-only period with a 30-year amortization schedule. Senior Vice President/Senior Director David Schofield and Senior Vice President/Managing Director Melissa Marcolini Quinn of NorthMarq Capital’s Orlando based regional office negotiated the transaction.

Quinn is pleased with Victoria Park’s efforts on maximizing revenue at the property which enabled NorthMarq to obtain maximum proceeds. “Due to the small amount of vacation rentals at the property, this transaction was not a fit for the agencies, but a great fit for the CMBS market,” she added.

Victoria Park Apartments is a 348-unit Class A multifamily property at 1000 Victoria Park Blvd, Davenport, conveniently located near Orlando’s resorts and attractions. Just minutes away from Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Celebration and Reunion, the Pegasus Residential community offers one- to four-bedroom units with up to three bathrooms combined with a wide variety of amenities. The apartments are available from $984 to $1,499 per month, and floor plans range from 843 to 1582 square feet.

Photo credits: Victoria Park Apartments

Bluerock Residential Growth REIT Invests in Residential Component of Publix Mixed Use Project

31 May 2014, 6:12 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Board of Directors at Bluerock Residential Growth REIT Inc. approved an investment in a 296-unit mid-density, four-story multifamily project on the East side of Orlando. Developed by Atlanta-based Catalyst Development Partners, the Class A apartment community is part of a Publix anchored retail development known as Town Park.

The one- and two-bedroom units that average 896 square feet will offer high-end features and finishes and include amenities superior to what the surrounding commodity garden-style market has to offer. Ramin Kamfar, Chairman and CEO of Bluerock Residential Growth REIT, attributes this lead to converting the land originally designated for office use to residential, which provides for up to $15,000 per unit cost advantage.

“The cost advantage is expected to allow us to deliver a superior quality product at competitive prices,” he adds.

The luxury property is in close proximity to several important locations including major employers. Located directly adjacent to the Central Florida Research Park, the Waterford Lakes Town Center, UCF and the Quadrangle Office Park are also easily accessible from the neighborhood.

The developer will contribute 15 percent of the required equity with BRG undertaking to throw in about $3.8 million of preferred equity with a 15 percent annualized rate, and the ability to convert into a common equity position on stabilization of the development. Affiliates of Bluerock Real Estate, LLC control the remaining equity in the development, according to a written announcement released recently. The terms of the agreement for the BRG’s investment, however, are still subject to final terms of negotiation.

The estimated cost to complete the development is $36.8 million and leasing is expected to begin in 2015.

Photo credits: Catalyst Development Partners


Nemours Opens Two Central Florida Primary Care Offices

23 May 2014, 4:11 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Nemours Children’s Health System has expanded its operations to Lake County and Seminole County by opening two primary care offices. Both Nemours Children’s Primary Care, Clermont on 1371 Citrus Tower Boulevard and Nemours Children’s Primary Care, Oviedo at 7455 Pinemire Drive opened in mid-May.

Founded in 1936, Nemours is an internationally recognized children’s health system that offers pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to families in numerous facilities that serve communities throughout Florida, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Nemours’ Central Florida network now includes nine Primary Care locations, five Urgent Care facilities, three Specialty Care locations and Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona Medical City.

The Clermont location opened at the former NTC Urgent Care facility and is led by physician Dr. Odette Stanley-Brown. As a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics she has provided health care to Florida families for more than 25 years and has been a pediatric practitioner in the hospital as well as the urgent care environment. Dr. Andrea Burns will lead Nemours Children’s Primary Care, Oviedo, while also helping with community-based educational workshops on adolescent health and obesity prevention and volunteering with two Central Florida service organizations.

The main purpose of Nemours’ primary care centers is to keep specialized patients close to their hospital facilities and have easy access to a child’s medical history as these locations share an electronic health record with Nemours Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Specialty Care locations.

In addition to the new openings in Clermont and Oviedo, Nemours also has expanded into pediatric urgent care with recent purchases of five centers in Altamonte Springs, Dr. Phillips, Hunter’s Creek, Sanford and Waterford Lakes.

Photo credits: Nemours Children’s Health System

Construction of Crescent Gateway in Altamonte Springs is in the Works

16 May 2014, 5:26 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Crescent Gateway, Crescent Communities’ luxury apartment community is underway at the intersection of Maitland Boulevard and state Route 434. The company is building an 80-acre, mixed-use project and the residential component represents the first phase. Another 300,000 square feet of office and retail space, and potentially a hotel, are in the pipeline. A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 15.

Crescent Multifamily Construction is the general contractor for the Crescent Gateway project, designed by Charlan Brock and Associates. The development is financed by an equity investment from Crescent and CNL Growth Properties Inc. with construction financing by PNC Bank.  Dix.Hite + Partners is entrusted with landscape architecture and DRMP is the civil engineer. ZRS will manage the property.

The 249-unit multifamily community is located just east of the new Adventist Health Systems headquarters and other major employers in the area such as EA Sports and Charles Schwab are within easy reach. A grocery store and other retail facilities are also accessible. The complex will feature studio homes, one- and two-bedroom apartment units in four-story buildings equipped with elevators. Three-bedroom units and two-story townhomes with attached garages are also part of the selection. Vignette Interior Design is responsible for the interior atmosphere, bringing granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and state of the art lighting to tenants. The range of common space amenities includes a swimming pool, outdoor fireplace, grilling area, a cafe with a terrace and flat-screen televisions, yoga lawn and a dog park.

Crescent Gateway is expected to open next summer.

 Satellite image of the developed parcel, courtesy of Google Maps

NorthMarq Capital Secures Lake Weston Point Community Refinance

9 May 2014, 10:21 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

NorthMarq Capital secured an $8.83 million refinance for Lake Weston Point Apartment Homes.

NorthMarq Capital is a privately held commercial real estate financial intermediary, providing mortgage banking and commercial loan servicing. With more than $10 billion in annual production volume and servicing a loan portfolio of more than $42 billion the company operates in 34 offices over the U.S. and has long loan production and loan servicing relationships with more than 50 life companies, many commercial mortgage-backed security platforms and hundreds of local, regional and national banks.

The company arranged financing for the borrower through its seller/servicer relationship with Freddie Mac. Structured with a 7-year term with 2-years interest only and a 30-year amortization schedule, the transaction of the adjustable rate mortgage was completed by Melissa Marcolini Quinn, managing director and senior vice president of NorthMarq Capital’s Orlando based regional office. She considers Freddie Mac’s floating rate offer “extremely attractive,” according to a press release.

The 240-unit affordable housing property is located at 2201 Weston Point Drive, Orlando. The pet-free community offers four floor plans with two to four bedrooms and two bathrooms, up to 1292 square feet. The apartments are air conditioned, equipped with central heating, ceiling fans, oversized closets, dishwashers and washer & dryer connections. Residents also have access to a lineup of community amenities such as afterschool program for kids, a clubhouse, car care area, a swimming pool, a sports court and a fitness center.

Photo credits: Lake Weston Point 

Nemours Children’s Clinic’s Lease on South Orange Ave. Renewed

1 May 2014, 2:06 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Nemours Foundation has had its 34,092-square-foot lease renewed at its Orlando location at 1717 South Orange Avenue.

Nemours’ multi-specialty group practice provides pediatric care for children and adolescents with chronic or complex medical conditions. The non-profit organization operates several children’s healthcare facilities throughout the country. Nemours’ pediatric specialists provide care at satellite clinics in Lake Mary as well as at Viera. The foundation also has several partners engaged in pediatric health care. Alongside its Florida operations, it offers family-centered care in children’s hospitals and clinics in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The facility is an outpatient pediatric clinic, which provides specialized pediatric care for families in Central Florida and is located in a three-story, 53,000-square-foot office building south of downtown Orlando. It features views of the adjacent Lake Lurna and is located across the street from the Orlando Regional Medical Center and the Arnold Palmer and Winnie Palmer hospitals.

Richard Solik of Cushman & Wakefield represented the tenant in the transaction and Robert Kellogg, vice president of office leasing for Lincoln spoke for the landlord. Kellogg said “The Nemours Foundation has been a longtime and highly valued client of 1717 South Orange Avenue.”

He also expressed his delight in the continuation of the successful business relationship of the two signatory parties.

Photo credits: Google Maps

Parkway Takes Ownership of One Orlando Centre

18 Apr 2014, 4:55 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Parkway Properties, Inc. has announced the acquisition of One Orlando Centre. The company has also simultaneously restructured the existing first mortgage loan.

Parkway is a fully integrated, self-administered and self-managed REIT with main focus on the acquisition, ownership and management of quality office properties in higher growth submarkets in the Sunbelt region.  The company’s investment portfolio includes over 50 office properties located in eight states and totals north of 17.6 million square feet.

Also known as the Wells Fargo building, One Orlando Centre is a Class A office building located in the central business district of Orlando, Fla. The 19-story, 356,000-square-foot tower came with an 8-story structured parking garage.  Built in 1987, the building is located just north of SR 50 between Orange Avenue and Magnolia Avenue with convenient access to Interstate 4. The property is currently 81.3 percent occupied and is expected to generate an initial full-year cash net operating income yield of 7 percent.

Parkway has taken ownership of the asset by making an $8.0 million equity investment that will provide for 100 percent ownership and management of the asset and be held in lender reserve accounts to cover the property’s leasing and repositioning.  At the same time, the existing $68.3 million first mortgage note was restructured into a new $54.0 million first mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 5.9 percent that matures in May 2017 and $16.4 million B-note, which is subordinated to Parkway’s equity investment.  The restructured first mortgage includes an option to extend for an additional year.

Photo credits: Parkway Properties


Hotel Equities to Manage Wyndham Hotel on I-Drive

11 Apr 2014, 9:47 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Hotel Equities has announced its arrangement with Wyndham Hotel Group to manage Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive and a newly built hotel in Southwest Texas.

Hotel Equities is a full-scale hotel management, ownership, development and consulting company based in Atlanta. Its current portfolio comprises more than 45 properties. Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive marks the firm’s eleventh contract in Florida and the new facility, set to open this month, is the first to be managed by Hotel Equities in the Lone Star State.

The Orlando property, which contains 613 guest rooms and suites, has recently undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. The hotel includes a 24-hour business center and three on-site restaurants, as well as 60,000-square-feet of flexible meeting and event facilities. The pet-friendly resort also features lush gardens and romantic lagoons, a restored and welcoming courtyard area and a wide array of services and amenities. Two heated swimming pools and whirlpools, a newly renovated state-of-the-art fitness center and a sauna are also available. The premium rooms offer sliding glass doors with poolside views or direct pool access. Further amenities include a children’s playground, casino, coffee shop, bar, safe deposit boxes, etc.

The complex holds a strategic location in the core of Orlando’s premier tourist destination, on International Drive, just one mile away from Orange County Convention Center, close to Disney World and upscale shopping and dining. Guests benefit from free shuttle service to Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, which are also within easy reach.

Photo credits: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

Cortland Partners Enters Orlando Market, Hires Local Expert

4 Apr 2014, 6:22 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Cortland Partners recently acquired its first asset in the metro Orlando market. The firm purchased Harbor at Lake Howell, a 408-unit, garden-style community in Casselberry for $40 million. Aside from the acquisition, the company also announced that it has added John Builder to its team of experts.

Cortland Partners is an Atlanta-based full-service multifamily real estate acquisition, development, and operating platform mainly active across the Southeast and Texas. A growing apartment owner and manager, the firm is currently focused on expanding its presence in the Sunshine State. The company’s Florida portfolio consists of seven communities, totaling about 3,000 units. Cortland Partners acquired its first Florida asset in 2012 and now owns communities in Gainesville, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Orlando, Fla. and Tampa, Fla.

Situated on 450-acres next to a freshwater lake, The Harbor at Lake Howell offers three floor plans ranging from 826 to 1330 square feet with one, two or three bedrooms and up to two bathrooms. The apartments come with fully equipped kitchens with optional stainless steel appliances, garbage disposal, washer / dryer connections, intrusion alarm, screened patios or balconies and outside storage space. The property includes a secluded sandy beach, winding wooded nature trail and boat access to Lake Howell. Further community amenities include a fitness center with spa / hot tub, an adventure playground, picnic areas, a summer kitchen equipped with gas grill, a car care center and covered parking.

A native of Orlando, Builder will serve as a Director of Investments for Florida. With more than 15 years of experience in investment-grade real estate acquisitions, portfolio management, joint ventures, and development, his main responsibility at Cortland Partners is to manage the firm’s development and acquisition activities across the state.

Photo credits: Harbor at Lake Howell

Orion Investment Affiliate Acquires Restaurant Row Mixed Use Property

24 Mar 2014, 5:44 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Rialto, a 105,275-square-foot retail and office center changed hands in early March. The seller, The Wilder Companies, gave HFF the marketing responsibilities and the sales team was led by senior managing directors Brad Peterson and Coleman Benedict and analyst Whitaker Leonhardt. The transaction was worth $31.7 million, according to Orlando Business Journal.

The new owner is an affiliate of Orion Investment and Management, Orion Venture IX Rialto, LLC that acquired the asset free and clear of existing financing. Orion Investment and Management is a full-service commercial real estate firm providing consulting services to national and international buyers. Established in 1978, it operates offices in Miami and Orlando. The company manages a portfolio worth over $400 and has a transaction history of over $1 billion.

Just 15 minutes from Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World, the property is located on “Restaurant Row”, or more specifically, at 7335 Sand Lake Road.  The one-mile stretch of retail facilities and restaurants is about 10 miles southwest of downtown Orlando. It features 46,756 square feet of office space that is 83 percent occupied and 58,519 square feet of currently fully leased retail space. Newlin Law, Ocean Prime and Bar Louie are among the prime tenants at the center. Adjacent to the mixed-use complex there is a 200-unit residential community currently under construction. Developed by Wood Partners, Alta Rialto Apartments was not included in the sale.

Photo credits: The Wilder Companies

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 

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