SunRail route Downtown Apartments coming in 2013

Downtown Orlando Real Estate

The hottest sector of commercial real estate related to the first phase of Central Florida’s $1.3 billion, 61-mile SunRail commuter rail finally is rearing its head.

Developers are gearing up to start construction early next year on four apartment projects totaling nearly

$121 million and 931 units at SunRail stations in downtown Orlando, Lake Mary and Longwood.

The projects will be within walking distance of their respective platforms and be completed before the trains begin running in summer 2014. Additionally, the projects are expected to bring residents close enough to the stations to encourage commercial development.

“Within the transit-oriented development equation, it’s important to have bodies in downtown,” said John Omana, Lake Mary community development director. “You maximize that through apartments.”

The projects are well-timed, since apartment construction financing is easier to get than other projects as demand remains strong for rental units in Central Florida. Metro Orlando had a 92.7 percent midyear occupancy rate for apartments with average monthly rental rates of $826.12, said CBRE Inc. That compared with 93 percent occupancy and monthly rent of $843.54 in the year-ago period.

Here’s more on the projects:

• Florida Hospital Health Village Apartments: Orlando-based Ustler Development Inc. plans to begin construction by year’s end on its $34 million, 230-unit work force housing complex near Florida Hospital, the residential piece of the hospital system’s planned Health Village surrounding one of four downtown Orlando SunRail stations.

Orlando-based J. Livingston & Associates Corp. is set to raze existing structures on the site this month. The project should be completed by April or May 2014, said Craig Ustler.

Orlando-based Baker Barrios was the designer. A general contractor has yet to be finalized.

• Weston Park: Orange Crown Holdings LLC plans to build the $24 million, 201-unit Weston Park apartments, taking half of the firm’s 8-acre site near the Longwood rail platform, said managing partner Ryan von Weller.

Office and retail will be a future phase.

Winter Park-based ACi Inc. is the project architect, and Altamonte Springs-based Roger B. Kennedy Inc. is expected to be named as the general contractor. Subcontracting opportunities are still available.

• Central Station Apartments: Houston-based Rida Development Corp. will seek master plan approvals from the city of Orlando later this month for its $175 million, mixed-use development next to the Lynx Central Station, another SunRail stop in downtown Orlando. An undisclosed apartment developer has property under contract to build up to 300 units in spring 2013, said Rida Senior Vice President Marc Reicher. That project should be completed by May 2014. Estimated construction costs are $37.5 million-$40.5 million.

The Orlando office of Dallas-based HKS Architects Inc. is the project’s designer.

• Lake Mary apartments: Winter Park-based Epoch Properties Inc. is seeking city approval from Lake Mary to build a 200-unit luxury apartment complex on 3 acres near the planned Lake Mary SunRail station.

An amendment changing the property’s use to a planned-unit development could be approved by the city commission in November, setting the stage for construction to begin in spring 2013, said John Omana, city community development director.

Sources estimated construction costs at $25 million-$27 million.

What this means to you:

• Construction and vendor opportunities

• Apartments will bring residents near SunRail stations, drawing the interest of commercial developers.

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