Winter Park building buy sets up public company CTO’s new local office

By Ryan Lynch  –  Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal

A recent building purchase will result in local real estate investment trust CTO Realty Growth Inc. bringing a bigger presence into Winter Park in the coming months.

The Daytona Beach-based REIT (NYSE: CTO) earlier this month completed a sale-leaseback of the 28,000-square foot office building at 369 N. New York Avenue in Winter Park with Columbus, Georgia-based Synovus Bank. CTO on Dec. 20 spent $13.2 million, or $471.43 per square foot, to buy the three-story building, including the surface parking and the Synovus Bank drive-thru, Orange County records showed.

A sale-leaseback enables a company to sell an asset to raise capital, then, it can lease that asset back from the buyer — giving it cash as well as the asset it needs to operate its business.

CTO — one of Central Florida’s largest publicly traded companies with $56.38 million in 2020 revenue, based on Orlando Business Journal research — this month opened a temporary office in the building. It eventually wants to have a third of its total staff — 18 people, as of Dec. 29 — work there, with the balance in Daytona Beach, said Matthew M. Partridge, CTO senior vice president, CFO and treasurer. The REIT expects to hire an undisclosed number of workers in 2022, with the expectation that most would work in Winter Park, Partridge told OBJ. Additionally, CTO President and CEO John Albright lives in Winter Park.

CTO is occupying an undisclosed amount of space on the building’s third floor, but sometime during 2022’s first half eventually will occupy about 4,500 square feet of second-floor space — though the final number isn’t finalized, Partridge said. Synovus will occupy the balance of the space on second floor, he said.

CTO may also redevelop the property in the future into “combination of retail, office and residential components,” the REIT said in a news release. The property has a total allowable floor area ratio of over 80,000 square feet. No redevelopment timetable or plans have been finalized, Partridge said.

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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 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.