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Snapshot of $172M worth of Lake Nona projects underway

The fast-growing, 13,000-resident Lake Nona community in southeast Orlando is dotted with cranes, piles of earth and the machines to push ’em around.

Among developer Development Co.’s projects underway are three valued at  $172 million combined:

Flip through Orlando Journal‘s slideshow for a closer look at these developments emerging out of former pasture land.

Lake Nona is home to several businesses, including the new $430 million KPMG training and innovation center and New York-based Drive Shack Inc. (NYSE: DS), a new global golf entertainment company opening its first location in Lake Nona in 2018.

Orange County Breaks Ground on New School in Wedgefield

As they lifted the dirt with their shovels, the group of Wedgefield residents felt that a 10-year wait was finally at an end. Their neighborhood was getting a school.

“It’s not just talk anymore. It’s not just a dream. It’s really happening,” says school supporter and Wedgefield resident Joel Thaw. At least one of his two grandsons will likely attend the new K-8 school that has begun in their neighborhood.

Established in 1962 as “Rocket City,” a planned development midway between Orlando and the Space Coast, Wedgefield took a while to boom. Plans for a school or two in the neighborhood started about a decade ago, but then the recession hit. There weren’t enough children in the neighborhood to fill two schools.

Reacting to parent concerns, the Orange County School Board decided to build a K-8 school on a 52-acre parcel on Bancroft Boulevard that was originally planned as a middle school.

Students have been taking bus rides of up to 45 minutes to get to Columbia Elementary or Corner Lake Middle, which face overcrowding issues.

When the new plans faced opposition from a small group of neighbors, supporters mobilized.

“My kids are super proud of me for working for something that is going to be part of our community,” says parent and Wedgefield resident Evelyn Perez. She was among the organizers, helping order and distribute hundreds of blue T-shirts that read “Wedgefield K-8 School 2016.”
At least 200 people attended community meetings and shared notes online in support of the school.

And on June 27, it was time to celebrate.

At least 80 parents, children and members of the community gathered on the construction site. The ground was marked by tire tracks from heavy equipment, and stakes were in the ground where the concrete slab of the school will go.

“In Wedgefield, we don’t really have anything that brings us together,” Perez says. A school will provide that focus, she says. “Our kids are going to be there together and get even closer.”

She credited Orange County Public Schools for “going above and beyond” to serve the community and address concerns.
School Board Member Joie Cadle and County Commissioner Ted Edwards spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, and residents filled out commemorative postcards that students at the new school will read at a dedication ceremony. Commemorative coins marked the date.

The 138,730-square-foot school, which is set to be ready in time for school in August 2016, will have classroom space for about 1,030 students. It will include two multi-story classroom buildings, a light-filled media center, a gym, cafeteria, art and music labs and 21st-century digital technology throughout. The colors and textures inside the school will be inspired by the natural habitat.

The name, mascot and principal will be decided sometime next year.

 

 

By Lauren Roth, senior manager of facilities communications for Orange County Public Schools

How Irma will affect real estate market

Like it did to everything else in Northeast Florida, Hurricane Irma dealt a significant impact to the residential real estate market.

But, like much else, it will come back, according to real estate professionals who’ve weathered the storms for years.

Bill Watson, founder and chairman of Watson Realty Corp., said the local effects of the hurricane began Sept. 8 for his 1,600 employees in 43 offices in North and Central Florida and South Georgia. That was two days before the storm made landfall in the Florida Keys.

“The first phase is when the hurricane warning comes. When the schools close, that affects your workforce,” he said.

Most Realtors are independent contractors and when schools are closed by an approaching storm, they take care of their children and families, Watson said.

After Irma, it was time to assess the damage on the personal and corporate levels and return to work. For many, that began about 12 hours after the storm left the area.

“We reopened Tuesday at noon. Two agents took clients to see houses and we also closed two contracts on Wednesday,” said Sherry Davidson, co-founder of Davidson Realty, which has offices in Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine.

Linda Sherrer, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty, said five of her firm’s eight offices opened Tuesday, followed by the other three on Wednesday when power was restored to those locations.

The first step was to determine if properties had been damaged.

“Our agents started calling all of their listings and all of their buyers,” Sherrer said.

The post-storm phase brings its own challenges that involve title companies and lenders.

Unless a contract was executed, lenders won’t fund the loan until the home is inspected to determine whether the property was damaged. That will probably mean adding about a week or 10 days to the process, Davidson said.

Watson said damage to a property that’s under contract doesn’t necessarily void a sale, provided repairs can be completed within a set time.

“You have 10 days to determine whether the damage is minor and if so, the seller has to notify the buyer,” he said. “If the damage is minor, the seller has 30 days to repair it.”

If the damage is more than what’s considered minor — about 3 percent of the value — the buyer has the option to continue to closing or walk away from the contract, Watson said.

After the initial disruption, the market will return to its previous level, said Sherrer, who has been selling real estate in Northeast Florida through good weather and bad since 1979.

“We’ve got low inventory and low interest rates and demand is very strong. That points to a strong rebound,” she said.

The number of that were damaged will make the untouched properties increase in value.

“If you have an undamaged house that’s ready to move in, you’ll be able to bump up the price. There are still plenty of buyers, but not as much inventory,” Watson said.

He also said Hurricane Irma probably will change the market for the next several months.

“We’ll never get the September business back. And it probably won’t be really back in October, but November and December will be better than they should have been.”

Here Are 2017’s Best and Worst Cities to Retire

We work hard during our careers to enjoy a comfortable retirement, and for many of us, that means settling down someplace where our nest eggs can go the furthest. But for some folks, finding an affordable place to retire is a matter of basic survival. More than 40% of households aged 56 to 64 have no retirement savings to show for, or so states the Economic Policy Institute. And even among older workers who are saving, confidence about retiring comfortably is declining. With that in mind, WalletHub recently did a review of the top cities to retire in this year, as well as the least desirable cities for retirees. Here’s what they came up with.

What makes for a happy retirement?

Though money isn’t everything when it comes to retirement, it’s a big factor to consider. Even if your tastes are modest, and you’re naturally not such a big spender, you’re bound to encounter certain expenses outside your control. Take healthcare, for example, which, according to recent projections, could cost the average healthy 65-year-old couple today over $400,000 in retirement. It therefore stands to reason that finding a city with a relatively low cost of living can be crucial to your overall happiness as a senior.

But while is one of the metrics WalletHub reviewed in its recent study, it’s not the only one. Factors such as recreation, senior services and population, hospital systems, and even climate were all considered in compiling this list.

So which cities offer the best overall quality of life for retirees? Among the 150 cities reviewed by WalletHub, here are the top 10:

Rank: Best Overall City
1 , FL
2 Tampa, FL
3 Miami, FL
4 Scottsdale, AZ
5 Atlanta, GA
6 Salt Lake City, UT
7 Honolulu, HI
8 Denver, CO
9 Austin, TX
10 Las Vegas, NV

DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.

Keep in mind that these 10 cities aren’t necessarily the most affordable. In fact, some, like Honolulu and Denver, scored relatively low on affordability alone. If a low cost of living is paramount in your mind, here are the top 10 cities you might consider as a retiree:

Rank: Most Affordable City
1 Laredo, TX
2 Brownsville, TX
3 St. Petersburg, FL
4 Montgomery, AL
5 San Antonio, TX
6 Memphis, TN
7 Tampa, FL
8 Orlando, FL
9 Lubbock, TX
10 Knoxville, TN

DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.

Of course, what you gain in affordability, you might forgo elsewhere. Take Laredo, Texas, the cheapest city for retirees. Though you might snag housing and groceries on the cheap, Laredo scored pretty low with regard to activities and amenities, and it came in nearly last on healthcare.

So which cities might you try to avoid as a senior? Here’s what the list of the 10 worst retiree states looks like:

Rank: Worst Overall City
1 Newark, NJ
2 Providence, RI
3 San Bernardino, CA
4 Worcester, MA
5 Detroit, MI
6 Fresno, CA
7 Stockton, CA
8 Modesto, CA
9 Fontana, CA
10 Rancho Cucamonga, CA

DATA SOURCE: WALLETHUB.

Most of the cities on this list scored relatively low in terms of affordability, and all landed at the bottom of the heap with regard to healthcare. Interestingly, none of the cities with the highest cost of living, including New York, New York; San Jose, California; and San Francisco, California, came even close to making the bottom 10 overall, which goes to show that money shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when determining where to live as a senior.

Finding the right place for your senior years

Clearly, the place you spend your days in retirement will have an impact on not just your budget but your everyday quality of life. If you’re not sure where to go once you stop working, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much do I want to spend on housing, transportation, and essentials? The more you fork over to cover your basic costs, the less cash you’ll have available for leisure. On the other hand, if you choose a city that offers much in the way of free entertainment, it might be worth the higher rent or mortgage. Furthermore, don’t just consider how much you want to spend but also what you can afford to spend. You might dream of retiring in Honolulu, but if your nest egg won’t hold up there, you’ll need to pick someplace with a lower cost of living.
  • How’s my health? Though having good access to healthcare is important for all retirees, if you have a known medical issue, you’ll need to pay even closer attention to how local hospitals and doctors are ranked. The last thing you want as a senior is to have to travel long distances to receive quality medical care.
  • How important is it for me to live near family? Your family might serve as a key social outlet and support system in retirement, so be sure to factor in proximity to children, siblings, and grandkids when deciding where to live. If you’re not willing to relocate to get closer (say, your family lives in an expensive city or someplace whose climate isn’t ideal), consider the cost of traveling from your city of choice to where your loved ones live, because you don’t want to grapple with perpetually pricey air fares when you’re stuck on a fixed income.

Choosing the right place to retire is crucial to your overall happiness. The more thought you put into where you retire, the more content you’re likely to be down the line.

State OKs new 100-bed UCF Lake Nona

The University of Central Florida and HCA Healthcare will start building a new 100-bed teaching hospital adjacent ‘s 50-acre College of Medicine campus in southeast Orlando’s Lake Nona community within 18 months. The campus currently has two facilities for classrooms and research.

The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration this week gave final approval for a hospital that’s expected to open for patients by the end of 2020.

The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s 12 public universities, approved the public/private hospital in March after the state had given the facility preliminary approval. That approval allows UCF to grow the hospital to up to 500 beds without further approval from that board. The planned new hospital will:

  • Train third- and fourth-year medical students from Day One.
  • Allow the UCF medical school to expand its clinical research mission. The university-based teaching hospital is expected to help lure more grants to fund research.
  • Provide more opportunities for medical residency programs.
  • Be a living-learning lab for training medical, nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy and social work students in teamwork skills and communication.

Building the new hospital also will bring opportunities for designers, builders and vendors, as well as new permanent, high-wage jobs.

Nashville-based HCA’s North Florida Division will contribute $175 million to build and begin operating the hospital, called UCF Lake Nona Medical Center. UCF will provide the land and its academic brand. No state dollars will be used to build the facility. “Together with our partners at HCA, we look forward to strengthening our community’s health, training more doctors and powering economic growth through research,” said UCF President John C. Hitt in a prepared statement.

He has described building the hospital as one of the university’s most important decisions of this decade.

A hospital to advance teaching and clinical research programs has been a UCF priority since the university opened its medical school in 2009. “This hospital and its research mission are part of the economic impact we promised the community when the medical school was built,” said Dr. Deborah German, founding dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs, in a prepared statement. (See the photo gallery for a look inside the medical school.) “In the United States and around the world, the best health systems have an academic component at their heart and the best medical schools have teaching hospitals. UCF Lake Nona Medical Center will help Central Florida become a national, then global health care destination that will benefit all of our partners and our community

New York Real Estate

Tavistock preps plans for 2 new Lake Nona apartment projects

Tavistock Development Co. LLC has plans in the works to bring two new multifamily projects — including one it’s calling “micro apartments” — to southeast ’s booming Lake Nona community.

Early planning is underway for a second multifamily development in the Lake Nona Town Center, temporarily being called The Distillery, which would be 11 stories high and include a mix of uses within it, according to documents.

The most unique part about the project is the residential units themselves, which is something Tavistock plans to experiment with by making them about 10-15 percent smaller than what’s now available in Orlando, Vice President of Development Operations Ralph Ireland told Orlando Business Journal.

The plan is to test out six “truly micro” units, at about 375 square feet each, Ireland said. If that’s successful, Tavistock may try to do some in its next apartment project.

“Because we’re always trying to innovate, we want to do things in Lake Nona that haven’t been done elsewhere in Central Florida,” Ireland told OBJ. “Of course, we can’t just roll out 150 micro units because we don’t know how it’s going to work. But we’re trying to get something more efficient. And they will be well amenitized within the units and in the common areas.”

Tavistock already has secured a foundation permit for this project, and is seeking city staff approval on a final plat. is expected to start in May or June next year.

Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. in Orlando is the civil engineer, the project architects are Silver Springs, Md.-based Torti Gallas & Partners Inc. and Columbus, Ohio-based M+A Architects, and the landscape architect is Dix.Hite + Partners LLC.

GROWN RESTAURANT IS NOW OPEN IN LAKE NONA

Grown is now open for business. Grown Restaurant is own by former NBA Star Ray Allen and his Wife Shannon. Grown is located inside the Lake Nona Walmart in the Lake Nona Landing Shopping Center.

Open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. They’re currently in a Soft Opening phase with a Limited menu.
Grand Opening will be later this Summer.

Grown gives a facelift to fast food. Making it easier to eat healthy in Lake Nona.

Grown has real food, cooked slow, for fast people. When it comes to eating, busy people have been conditioned to accept compromise. At grown, food can finally be convenient, nutritious and affordable all at the same time, under one garden-topped roof, full of freshly grown ingredients.

Grown will be located in the new Lake Nona Walmart in Lake Nona Landings.

4 High-Return Updates for the Home

Exclusive: Construction tees up for $25M Lake Nona golf attraction

It’s official: ’s & Performance District is adding a new golf and entertainment element to the mix.

Franklin, Tenn.-based The Parkes Cos. last week was issued a permit valued at $10 million to begin work on Drive Shack, the new complex at 7675 Lake Nona Blvd., according to city of documents.

The project includes a three-story, 57,000-square-foot driving range entertainment facility that includes a restaurant, lounge, bar, hitting bays and meeting spaces, according to Orange County permitting documents. It will be built on a 15-acre site on the northwest quadrant of State Road 417 and Lake Nona Boulevard, as previously reported by Orlando Business Journal. It will be similar to Topgolf, which plans to open an Orlando site on International Drive this fall.

A project manager at The Parkes Cos. wasn’t available for comment and it appears Drive Shack Orlando’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since September, as of the morning of May 22.

However, New York-based Drive Shack Inc. (NYSE: DS) is a new global golf entertainment company as announced last November by New York-based real estate investment trust Newcastle Investment Corp., which is managed by an affiliate of real estate firm Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE: FIG).

The Lake Nona site is the parent company’s first Drive Shack location and another one is in the works, Drive Shack CEO and President Sarah Watterson said during the company’s May 5 first-quarter earnings call. Here’s more on what Watterson had to say about the project during that call:

“On the entertainment golf business, we continue to be very excited and make strides in developing our global network of Drive Shack venues. In Orlando, we’re in the midst of constructing our first venue, with the goal being open in first-quarter 2018. We’re also very excited to announce that our second Drive Shack venue will be developed in Richmond, Va. … Our venues feature multiple stories of hitting suites, whether friends, family, coworkers or complete strangers are able to compete in various technologically-enhanced golf games while using TaylorMade clubs. Consumers who are seeking a good time, but maybe not looking to participate in the game, are able to enjoy food and beverage options from one of our many entertainment, restaurant or lounge areas.”

Each Drive Shack site is expected to cost $15 million-$25 million to build, and would generate about $3 million-$6 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a December 2016 investor presentation showed.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous is the project architect; Walter P. Moore is the structural engineer; ME Engineers is handling mechanical, electrical and plumbing; and Howe Engineers is the code engineer.

Meanwhile, Drive Shack in Lake Nona is the next piece of the 300-acre Sports & Performance District, which boasts the now operating $100 million U.S. Tennis Association National Campus; the soon-to-debut $1.4 million USTA Florida headquarters and U.S. Professional Tennis Association complex; and the $20 million Orlando City Soccer Club training facility.

Elsewhere in Lake Nona, global audit giant KPMG LLP is hosting a May 22 groundbreaking on its new $430 million Lake Nona training center and Lake Nona developer Tavistock Development Co. LLC expects big things for the next $300 million phase of its Lake Nona Town Center.

Tavistock takes steps forward on Lake Nona Town Center’s next big phase

Developer Tavistock Development Co. LLC on March 9 is expected to go before the city of Orlando’s Southeast town design review committee with a specific parcel master plan for what’s being called Phase 2A — a significant piece of the $780 million, 3.8 million-square-foot open-air lifestyle and entertainment center planned for Lake Nona.

has submitted plans that include:

  • 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use development, including a brewery, bowling alley and medical fitness facility
  • About 200 hotel rooms
  • 3,200 parking spaces, including surface spaces and garage spacesLos Angeles Real Estate

The Lake Nona Town Center’s $70 million first phase included two office buildings — one completed and one now in the works— plus restaurants, a dual-branded Marriott hotel and structured parking, as previously reported by Orlando Business Journal.

The request to expand the second office building to six stories also is on the March 9 review committee agenda, as OBJ previously reported .

Meanwhile, the Lake Nona Town Center is a long-awaited project meant to serve local residents, students and workers in the 11,000-acre southeast Orlando community, but likely also will attract some tourists, as previously reported by OBJ.