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Winter Park firm buys 72 acres ‘every developer in town’ wanted

Jack Witthaus
Staff Writer
Orlando Business Journal

A Central Florida developer just bought land that real estate executives had been courting for decades, setting up a major commercial development near the Orlando International Airport.

Winter Park-based Whitley Capital LLC acquired the 72 acres in late June for $12.2 million, or roughly $169,444 an acre, at Taft Vineland Road and Orange Avenue, according to the parties involved in the deal. The developer plans to start construction in mid-2020 on three speculative industrial buildings totaling roughly 830,000 square feet. Construction may wrap up in 2021.

The deed hasn’t been recorded in Orange County.

Daytona Beach-based Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. (NYSE Amex: CTO) supplied an $8 million loan as part of the transaction. The seller, Cone Betty S Estate, was represented by JLL’s Bret Felberg, senior vice president of capital markets; Josh Lipoff, executive vice president; and Jeff Morris, managing director.

Developers for years had eyed the site, including prominent industrial real estate company West Palm Beach-based McCraney Property Co. The developer planned to build 977,200 square feet of rail-served, industrial and warehouse space on the site at 88 Taft Vineland Road.

The land’s size and proximity to the airport made it desirable, according to real estate experts. “Every single developer in town was after that land,” said Bo Bradford, co-president of Lee & Associates Central Florida, who wasn’t involved in the deal.

Meanwhile, Central Florida’s overall growth in recent years has been driving industrial demand, including for warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturing plants. In addition, industrial already is a hot sector in Central Florida, mostly because of the e-commerce boom led by Seattle-based giant Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN). Retailers want distribution centers closer to their customers so they can deliver products faster, which is why new users are lining up for space.

High demand has caused a surge in rental prices. Central Florida’s average industrial rent in secondquarter 2019 is $7.20 per square foot, up from $6.30 per square foot in second-quarter 2018, Lee & Associates reported.

Amazon: Daytona facility to create ‘hundreds’ of jobs

DAYTONA BEACH — Amazon officially confirmed plans to open a “delivery station” in Daytona Beach this year that will create “hundreds of job opportunities.”

“The new station will power Amazon’s last-mile delivery capabilities to speed up deliveries for customers in the Daytona Beach area,” Shone Jemmott, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based Internet retail giant, wrote in an email to The News-Journal.

“The delivery station will create hundreds of job opportunities from full-time associates with comprehensive benefits starting on Day 1 to independent contractors who can … make up to $25 per hour delivering packages on behalf of Amazon,” Jemmott wrote. “We expect the site to open in 2019.”

Amazon has not sought economic incentives from either the city, county or state, according to Kent Sharples, president of the CEO Business Alliance. The group of local business leaders assisted the project’s developer VanTrust Real Estate in quickly securing permits from the city to begin site work.

“They did not ask for any and I am not aware of any incentives being offered,” Sharples said.

The announcement by Amazon comes after weeks of wide-spread speculation that the project recently begun by VanTrust directly behind the Trader Joe’s distribution center was for the eCommerce giant.

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A vision and a challenge

The early architectural drawings are beautiful to the point where it’s hard to recognize them as Daytona Beach.

In the fight to clean up Daytona Beach’s troubled core beach area, and continue the progress on its riverfront downtown, we have often offered this advice: Look for modest but achievable ways to reclaim abandoned businesses, weed-filled parking lots and outward signs of decay. Then hope, and expect, that grander and more transformative projects will take root.

But Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. isn’t waiting around for that incremental change. Earlier this month, officials with the Daytona-Beach based property investment firm proposed two major projects — one on beachside, the other on property adjacent to the Beach Street shopping district — that could accelerate the revitalization of communities that desperately need help.

Daytona Beach has seen developers weave castles in the air before, and watched them collapse and blow away just as readily. This is different because Consolidated-Tomoka is local. Executives with the company understand the challenges and opportunities in the Daytona Beach market far better than any out-of-town developer could. They’ve seen the blight around Main Street, the panhandlers and open drug use within blocks of the city’s beachfront and along Ridgewood Avenue. They know what they’re getting into.

And yet, they believe it can get better. The early architectural drawings are beautiful to the point where it’s hard to recognize them as Daytona Beach. Right now, they’re just ideas of what could happen — but the vision they present is a grand one.

The beachside project would be directly south of the Ocean Center complex, extending to Main Street. Plans include hundreds of upscale apartments or condominiums in a high-rise tower, with retail and strolling areas and a covered pedestrian overpass that would give residents safe access to the beach, hotels and dining on the east side of State Road A1A. A new garage would replace surface parking in the area.

The mainland project, code-named “Project Delta,” proposes 300 more luxury apartments and retail space, including a spot for a grocery store — something downtown has lacked for decades. The target area runs from Bay Street south to International Speedway Boulevard, and Ridgewood Avenue to Palmetto Avenue. Consolidated-Tomoka already owns much of that property, including the site the First Baptist Church will soon vacate. That proposal is a natural complement to other exciting developments in the area, including Brown & Brown’s headquarters that could bring 600 employees to downtown.

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Bird’s-eye views of developments as builders pick up the pace

Surge in housing starts spurs biggest increase in commercial projects in decade in Volusia County

DAYTONA BEACH — The surge in new home construction activity is also spurring an increase in new commercial projects, the latest data from Volusia County’s economic development division shows.

In the first three months of 2018, 64 building permits were issued countywide for new commercial developments, the most in a single quarter since the first three months of 2008 when developers got the green light to proceed on 85 projects.

It’s the second most number of permits issued in a quarter in Volusia since 2006, according to county data. It’s also five times the number (12) issued both in second quarter of 2014 and fourth quarter of 2013.

“Developers are finding good opportunities here,” said John Albright, president and CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co., who attributes in increase in commercial projects to a combination of the rise in housing starts as well as employment growth.

Builders were issued 548 permits for new homes in Volusia during the first quarter, according to the latest county statistics. That’s the most to start a new year since 2007, when 563 were issued. (The Volusia Building Industry Association, whose HBW Inc.-compiled data slightly varies from the county’s, recently reported 522 permits for new homes issued during the first quarter.)

Notable commercial projects under construction in the county include North American Development Group’s 400,000-square-foot “power lifestyle” retail center at Tomoka Town Center, just east of Tanger Outlets, and the future home of Gary Yeomans Honda on North Tomoka Farms Road, just south of CarMax.

Both are being built on land formerly owned by Consolidated-Tomoka, as are the sites of two major residential projects now going up off of LPGA Boulevard, west of Interstate 95: Minto Communities’ planned 6,600-home Jimmy Buffett-themed Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community and ICI Homes’ adjacent 1,200-home Mosaic all-ages “full life” community.

Consolidated-Tomoka, which has sold more than 2,600 acres locally since Albright took the Daytona Beach-based company’s helm in 2011, has an additional 6,000 acres here under contract to be sold to developers in the next few years.

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