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 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.

Is Amazon coming to Daytona Beach?

A developer and general contractor known for building distribution centers for e-commerce giant Amazon have quietly begun clearing land along Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach.

While the companies aren’t saying what the project is, speculation is growing that it could be an Amazon distribution center.

“I’m hopeful that it’s a credible rumor,” said Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry. “From my perspective, I hope it comes to fruition, but for now at this time it’s just a rumor.”

The 20-acre site is on Mason Avenue, directly east of the Trader Joe’s distribution center that opened in 2015.

Developer VanTrust Real Estate and general contractor The Conlan Co. last year teamed up to build a distribution center here along Clyde Morris Boulevard for German medical products maker B.Braun.

City officials confirmed that a building permit for the site at 2400 Mason Ave. was issued Feb. 18 to VanTrust, doing business as “JI Mason Avenue 319 LLC.”

The developer’s permit application stated its plans to build a 68,000-square-foot “industrial distribution building with office,” but the application did not name the end user. The estimated construction cost for the project is $13.8 million.

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As land becomes ‘scarce,’ firms expected to look north of Orlando for industrial space

Jack Witthaus
Staff Writer
Orlando Business Journal

Central Florida’s population boom has created demand for new industrial space — if users can find it.

Increasing land demand may push more groups to the outer rings of Central Florida, including Daytona Beach which is roughly an hour away from the central business district, according to industrial experts. Daytona may be more appealing to users who need more space and price sensitive companies who aren’t interested in spending upwards of $300,000 an acre closer to Orlando.

The area also offers the ability for users to own land, contrasting with Orlando and Lakeland, which are becoming more land-constrained and increasingly institutionally controlled, said David Perez, a senior director with Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) in Orlando. That’s difficult for industrial space users with intensive infrastructure operations or companies that want to own long-term.

Still, there are challenges to bigger industrial developments in Daytona. One main issue: the area’s labor force, which includes a plethora of retirees who aren’t necessarily looking for industrial labor jobs. However, the city wants to make business attractive for interested industrial space users, as Daytona has a reputation for getting deals done faster with its permitting and incentives process, said Bo Bradford, co-president of Lee & Associates Central Florida LLC.

“I do feel like there are opportunities for Daytona,” Bradford said. 

One landowner said his company’s 850-acre industrial site in Daytona Beach that’s been proposed for years is getting a second look from potential tenants as Central Florida’s population continues to grow and demand for space increases. The planned Daytona West Industrial Park — entitled for 4.7 million square feet of industrial space, or an estimated $311 million in development, west of Interstate 95 and north of U.S. Highway 92 — may prove attractive to users looking to own land and develop on a larger scale, said John Albright, president and CEO of Daytona-based Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. (NYSE: CTO), which owns the 850-acre site.

A growing population is creating demand for more industrial space as more than 21 million people live within 250 miles of the Interstate 4 corridor between Daytona Beach and Tampa, according to Colliers International Central Florida (Nasdaq: CIGI), which is marketing the project. That’s a plus for Daytona, as one of the biggest driving factors for new industrial development is the area’s proximity to Interstate 95 and I-4. That location offers potential users the availability to serve the entire state of Florida. Still, no leases have been signed.

“As companies look to establish a distribution or heavy industrial use closer to Orlando, and the remaining Orlando sites are getting scarce, we assume this site will be an appealing alternative,” Albright said.

Massive B.Braun distribution center opens in Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH — “What do you think about this 400,000-square foot building?”

Applause from dozens of area business leaders and elected officials echoed in the cavernous B. Braun distribution center on Thursday as Glenn Ritchey, board member of the CEO Business Alliance, gestured at towering shelves behind him on the gleaming warehouse floor.

Ritchey, a former Daytona Beach mayor known for his car dealerships, managed to slip an automotive reference into his own appraisal of the sparkling new center at 1341 N. Clyde Morris Blvd. The new building and its prospect for job growth were being celebrated with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and color-coordinated green-and-white balloon drop.

“It looks like a drag strip,” Ritchey said, gesturing down one of the long, wide aisles. “I know a lot of quarter-mile races that have been run in less space.”

The massive 400,000-square-foot complex, on Clyde Morris roughly a half-mile south of LPGA Boulevard, was built to accommodate increased production at medical products maker B.Braun’s recently expanded Daytona Beach manufacturing plant on Mason Avenue. The company has pledged to create at least 175 new jobs in Daytona Beach by Dec. 31, with those jobs paying an average of at least $41,936 a year.

Those two projects represent a capital investment of more than $140 million, with the potential for more B. Braun expansion in the area.

The German company, whose U.S. headquarters are in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday received approval from the Volusia County Council of a 20 percent match of a performance-based economic incentive package for a proposed second manufacturing plant that would be built just east of its existing production facility at 1845 Mason Ave.

The county’s portion of the Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund incentive package is $100,000.

B.Braun would receive those incentives only if it makes good on a pledge to create 100 new-to-Florida jobs that pay an average annual salary of more than $45,698, according to the package approved by the County Council. The remaining 80 percent of the incentive package would come from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Volusia County Council member Deb Denys framed the distribution center’s opening as an important step toward moving from potential to reality.

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