Feb. 1--The largest residential project yet undertaken in downtown Orlando could rise from a city block at Colonial Drive and Interstate 4, according to plans outlined by the project's developers.
With 1,209 condominium units and apartments, the $500 million Orlando City Place would top any residential development in downtown's history, Rick Krent, the city of Orlando's architect, said Tuesday.
The developers also want the six-building complex to include the city's tallest skyscraper -- a 460-foot-high residential tower that would top downtown's current record holder, the 441-foot-high SunTrust Center.
The first phase of Orlando City Place -- redevelopment of the former Holiday Inn at Colonial Drive and Hughey Avenue -- is under way and scheduled to be finished by May, according to George Kalivretenos of Celebration and Barry Greer of St. Cloud, the project's developers. The 14-story building is being converted into a condo hotel.
The entire development would fill the block alongside I-4 that's bounded by Colonial, Hughey, Concord Street and Lexington Street. Plans call for 1,209 condos and apartments in three towers; 100,000 square feet of retail space; a 14-story, 120,000-square-foot-office tower; a seven-story building with health club and spa; and the condo hotel.
Orlando City Place is the third downtown development encompassing all or most of a city block. Premiere Trade Plaza is under construction at Orange Avenue and Church Street, while a project tentatively called 400 North Orange is slated for construction at Orange and Livingston Street later this year.
The condo hotel -- the developers say 180 of 227 units are already sold -- will be called The Lexington at Orlando City Place and will be an affiliate of America's Best Value Inn, a nationwide chain of about 600 hotels and motels.
Greer was one of the founders of America's Best Value Inn in 1999. The Lexington will be a business hotel, he said, because research has indicated demand among business travelers for rooms in the city center.
Greer said the partners, based on informal talks with the Federal Aviation Administration, think they can get approval for a 460-foot-high building.
They have not yet applied for formal FAA approval, Greer said, but he's comfortable the agency will OK the record height because the proposed tower is outside of Orlando International Airport's flight paths and should not pose a problem for Orlando Executive Airport.
However, a 493-foot-high office tower proposed by developer Ron Pizzuti in 1997 about two blocks south of Orlando City Place was rejected by the FAA, which cited takeoff and landing patterns for Orlando Executive Airport, whose runways are less than three miles away.
Kalivretenos and Greer said they have an aggressive development schedule for their project:
Work on the condo hotel is well under way.
Work on the building with the health club/spa, which will serve the hotel, tower residents and the public, is to start by the end of April.
Construction of the office tower, which is to include a private rooftop club, is slated for late this year.
At the same time as the office building, work would begin on a 10-story, U-shaped parking garage serving the entire development. The garage's rooftop is to have swimming pools, greenery and jogging trails for the project's residents, Kalivretenos said.
A 38- to 40-story residential tower with 300 condos would be built atop the garage at the south end of the property starting by the middle of next year.
The other two towers -- with a combined 900 condos and apartments -- would be built as market conditions permit, the developers said. The record-setting tower of 45 or 46 floors would be in the middle, while the shorter tower would be built atop the garage at the property's north end, between the former Holiday Inn and Colonial Drive.
Greer estimated that the partners have about $50 million invested in the project, including the property's acquisition and redevelopment of the hotel.
Sales of the hotel's condo units should start closing in May, generating a cash return on the investment so far. "We'll start feeling better then," Greer said.
The Holiday Inn was severely damaged by the 2004 hurricanes. Kalivretenos said he looked at the property then as an investment but passed on the opportunity. Later, after talking with Greer -- the two have been partners in other ventures -- he decided to take a second look.
"When we considered the full development possibilities, we decided it was a great opportunity," Kalivretenos said.
Both men said their goal is to produce affordable condos and apartments, though no prices have been set yet. They are talking to the city about possible incentives to help make that happen, because the property is part of the Parramore District, an economically disadvantaged neighborhood whose redevelopment is a high priority at Orlando City Hall.
Kalivretenos said he met Greer through a friend while looking for a partner in another project. In addition to Orlando City Place, the two are developing Savona, a 37-lot luxury-home project in the Dr. Phillips area of southwest Orange County.
Jack Snyder can be reached at 407-420-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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