KPMG’s revamped plans for Lake Nona center






Good morning, Orlando!

New York-based audit giant KPMG LLP is revamping the plans for its 55-acre training center.

If you recall, KPMG received $3.8 million in economic development incentives for the training center project, including $3.5 million in tax rebates from Florida and the city of Orlando for a seven-year period and a $320,000 Qualified Target Industries tax refund through the state, which is expected to create 80 jobs by 2019.

More here on what KPMG is requesting approval from the city to change.

The new KPMG center is expected to boost the local by bringing thousands of employees into the market, creating new jobs at the facility and hundreds of third-party contract operator positions.

And be sure to check out these other Thursday headlines:

Hard Rock HQ’s Orlando departure to result in 184 layoffs

Orlando-based casino, hotel and restaurant operator Hard Rock International Inc. told the state via a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice, that it will lay off 184 workers starting in April through July. The company said the layoffs will be permanent. More here.

First look: Lake Nona teaching hospital plans reveal future expansion

The University of Central Florida and HCA Healthcare’s application for a new teaching hospital in Lake Nona gave a first look of the new facility and the medical spaces it will create. More here.

Orlando ‘Shark Tank’ star to roll out products in Walmart this month

Hummus king Jesse Wolfe has scored one his largest deals yet. His company O’Dang Hummus, featured on CNBC’s show “Shark Tank,” last summer struck a deal with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). And now, he will roll out his hummus salad dressing in 2,000 Walmart stores and neighborhood markets this month.

Ridership of Brightline — which eventually will extend to Central Florida — has exceeded expectations since the train began service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, CEO Patrick Goddard told an audience at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday. More here.

Florida House Speaker Corcoran says budget deal reached

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, indicated Wednesday afternoon that legislative leaders have reached agreement on a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. More here.

Disney opens StudioLAB to build VR, AI ‘entertainment experiences’

Walt Disney Studios is launching an initiative dedicated to virtual reality and artificial intelligence. StudioLAB will reimagine, design and prototype entertainment experiences and production capabilities to promote feature films, as well as music and stage plays.

Top 10 States for Retirement


Florida found a place among the top 5 dream retirement is living in a location that’s affordable, safe and popular with older residents. These were the considerations that took into account while looking for the most retirement-friendly states in the U.S.

It ranked the states across the country on five parameters—healthy environment, personal security, local , weather conditions, and popularity with older residents. By averaging each state’s ranking in these five categories, determined the 10 best states to retire.

Coming in at a surprising No.1 position was Iowa, with its across-the-board consistency on all parameters. Despite its high cost of living, Hawaii was the second alternative for people looking to retire in style. The Aloha state’s tropical climate offered an attractive alternative as did its record of life expectancy at age 65, which is longer in Hawaii than in any other state.

With its maximum number of clear weather days, Arizona was ranked third on the list especially for people who valued sunshine. On the downside though, it wouldn’t be ideal for those looking at security. With some of the highest incidents of property crime, Arizona is one of the worst states as far as home security is concerned, the study found.

It’s no surprise that Florida found a place among the top 5 states in these rankings. At No. 4, Florida has been associated with retirement for a long time, with the highest portion of residents aged 65 or older. However, despite its favorable climate conditions, the study found that like Arizona, Florida too had a high incidence of both property and violent crime—fifth-highest across the U.S. to be precise.

At No.5 Maine trailed Florida only in the proportion of its population that is aged 65 or older. But unlike Florida, Maine is one of the safest states in the country with the second-lowest rate of violent crime.

While Idaho, Vermont, and New Hampshire came in at sixth, seventh, and eighth rank respectively, Kansas and Virginia tied for the ninth spot in these rankings.

What Does The 2018 Housing Market Look Like?

Oftentimes, it’s difficult to predict the . In the last decade alone, we’ve seen a market crash and slow rebound.

However, while some experts are focused on yet another housing bubble, real estate has been on the rise. In October, sales of new U.S. single-family homes hit their highest level in 10 years across the country.

What’s the market forecast for next year? Industry insiders and top experts have similar predictions.

As a future or current homeowner, it’s important to stay on top of the changes in real estate. Read on to learn what the 2018 housing market has in store.

Inventory Shortages

New home sales may be on the rise, but the number of available is on the decline.

Low home inventory has made home prices more expensive in recent years. This trend will continue in 2018, making it more difficult for first-time and budget-focused buyers to enter the market.

There are 12 percent fewer homes on the market than there were a year ago. If this trend continues, homebuyers will be faced with stiffer competition and higher prices. This will make the demand for home purchase loans even greater.

What’s contributing to this low inventory? There are several theories.

Rising housing costs have added emphasis to high-end construction. More expensive homes are being built, which is making it more difficult to find affordable homes.

Homeowners might also be less likely to sell their homes than they were pre-crash. Despite it being a seller’s market, they aren’t looking to enter the market. They’d rather stay locked into their current mortgage.

Whatever the reason, the inventory shortage is expected to continue. Low inventory and high prices will force new homebuyers to get creative if they want to find an affordable home.

Housing Market Opportunities

Certain demographics have seen an abundance of housing opportunities. They can expect these opportunities to be even greater in 2018.

One such demographic is sellers of mid-priced single-family homes. These are some of the most in-demand homes across the nation.

Developers and sellers can make big money on this valuable sector of the market. More millennials are seeking to buy starter homes while baby boomers are scaling back.

The housing shortage isn’t all bad for buyers. Experts are predicting that housing prices will slow down in the coming year.

Forecasts show that the average U.S. house price growth will be 4.9 percent in 2018, which is lower than the 6.6 percent growth seen in the second quarter of 2017.

Prices might be curbed thanks to mortgage rates. A moderate increase in mortgage rates should help decrease refinancing activities.

You can still expect higher growth in big markets such as Seattle and San Francisco. Yet good mortgage rates, limited refinancing, and market stability will still help buyers in 2018.

Your Next Move

Predictions show low-inventory, high-prices, and market stability in 2018.

You don’t have to wait until these predictions come to fruition. Contact us now to learn more about buying your dream home. We offer free loan advice with no cost or obligation.

Orlando voted the No. 1 spring break destination


Good morning, !

Orlando roadways and area attractions are going to get a whole lot busier next month because we have  been named the No. 1 spring break destination for 2018, AAA reports.

Three cities are among AAA’s 10 Most Popular Destinations for the month of March, based on air and tour bookings made with the travel agency. Besides Orlando, Fort Lauderdale came in at No. 2, while Miami is No. 8. Other popular destinations include Honolulu, Cancun, Maui and Montego Bay.

A recent Consumer Pulse survey of Floridians who are planning a vacation in 2018 revealed that:

  • 55% of Florida travelers will take a spring break vacation of three days or more.
  • 43% will travel with family.
  • 12% will travel with friends.
  • 80% of Florida millennials will take a spring break vacation of three days or more.
  • 61% of millennials will travel with family.
  • 19% will travel with their friends.

Church Street Plaza hotel developer shares latest plans





The new hotel component inside Lincoln Property Co.’s $100 million Church Street Plaza tower is starting to determine how it will look.

That’s according to Scott Webb, president of Kolter Hospitality, which will own and operate the 180-room AC Marriott hotel in the tower. “We have appointed the design team and started working with Marriott on the perfect design,” he told  Journal. The team includes Hunton Brady Architects, TLC Engineering for Architecture, Baskervill and Technology Research & Consulting — all from the Orlando area.

The 601,225-square-foot tower, which broke ground last August, will feature not only the AC Marriott hotel, but also 217,000 square feet of Class A office space, 7,500 square feet of ground-level retail, an integrated parking garage and a Grand Central Station-like lobby that eventually will connect to a relocated SunRail commuter rail station.

of the hotel won’t kick off until June 2019 after the tower gets its certificate of occupancy, which will allow Kolter’s teams to get inside and start work, said Webb. The company may seek contractor bids as early as the beginning of 2019, based on industry standards.


The new hotel is expected to open just before summer 2020 with a slew of amenities that should appeal to both leisure and business travelers. The hotel will offer meeting space, a gym, food services and an exterior bar on the 19th floor overlooking the city, Webb added.

The downtown Orlando market is still prime for more hotel growth, according to a study from CBRE Group Inc. That submarket is home to more than 7,000 hotel rooms and a 73 percent occupancy that has room for more inventory.

That’s good news for investors interested in the market and looking to potentially expand their footprint — something Kolter Hospitality hasn’t overlooked. “We are very committed to the Orlando market and we continue to look to expand there as opportunities present themselves through both acquisition of existing assets and development,” said Webb.

UCF-area lands Orlando’s first booze-serving Taco Bell Cantina


In the spirit of the weekend getting started, have you ever had a hankering for a craft beer to go with your Cheesy Gordita Crunch? Well, you’re in luck because a new millennial-focused, booze-serving Taco Bell Cantina will debut across the street from the University of Central Florida’s main entrance.

The fast-casual concept, a first for Central Florida and second statewide, will take up 2,846 square feet at the $100 million Plaza on University complex, a building that blends student housing units with ground-level shops and eateries on the northwest corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail in east Orlando. JLL’s Brandon Delanois represented the landlord in the lease deal.

Taco Bell Cantina, which only has a handful of locations — including one near the University of Florida in Gainesville — features a more hip, urban-style decor than a typical drive-thru Taco Bell, like polished wood and exposed brick. It offers tapas-style menu items, USB ports, and serves beer, wine and sangria, as well as the option to get Taco Bell’s frozen drinks spiked with rum, tequila and vodka.

“Taco Bell Cantina is a great example of a brand evolving to cater to today’s millennial tastes and preferences,” said Delanois, JLL associate of retail brokerage, in a prepared statement.

No word yet on when the new restaurant will open, but check out these photos of a Taco Bell Cantina from our sister paper in Cincinnati.

Lockheed Martin’s new $50M R&D building



Global defense firm Lockheed Martin Corp.’s plans to build a $50 million research and development center in west may be a big get for the local community.

The Bethesda, Md.-based company announced Feb. 14 plans to expand its Missiles & Fire Control division in Orlando by adding a 255,000-square-foot building. The new structure will support Lockheed Martin’s major defense contracts such as its $548 million deal to produce more than 7,300 Hellfire missiles, and its $900 million long-range cruise missile contract.

“We’ve been fortunate to sustain our already strong pipeline of business and secure some major new business to support Missiles & Fire Control work contracts announced last year,” Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Dana Casey told Orlando Business Journal. “This includes our sniper and legion pod programs, infrared search and track systems, the long-range anti-ship missile contract award, and more.”

The building project, slated for completion in 2019, is expected to create subcontractor opportunities for smaller firms in the area. Brasfield & Gorrie LLC was named the general contractor. The project may create 500 temporary construction jobs, based on industry standards. Lockheed Martin executives also announced that the firm is hiring 1,800 workers across the U.S. within two years and 500 of those jobs will be in Orlando, paying an average annual salary of $87,000.

Currently, Lockheed Martin has more than 650 jobs open on its website, calling for software and system engineers, program managers and more. Go here for tips on how to get a job with the defense contractor.

Nearly 1,000 employees will work in the new building, performing engineering work and program management activities like planning, finance and human resources. And because the new building may give Lockheed Martin the space and workforce to accept more defense contracts in Orlando, the expansion may trickle down to manufacturers and parts suppliers in the area.

“It’s hard to envision the exact implications [the new facility] will have, but in the near term, we can say there’s a significant amount of local contract work supporting the effort,” Casey said

In fact, the company each year contracts a total of $5.1 billion worth of work to more than 1,600 Florida suppliers, Paul Lemmo, vice president of Fire Control and Special Operations Programs for Lockheed Martin

Here’s 2 spots where the Osceola Parkway Extension may be built — both are controversial

Would you rather see a major road built through a costly wildlife/nature preserve or a neighborhood?

This is the dilemma the Central Florida Expressway Authority, which soon must decide where to put the Osceola Parkway Extension, has been facing since last year.

The proposed Osceola Parkway Extension begins one mile west of the Boggy Creek Road and Osceola Parkway intersection, and extends eastward along the Orange/Osceola County line for six miles before turning south into Osceola County to meet the northern terminus of the proposed Northeast Connector Expressway. The project also includes a potential north/south segment linking to State Road 417 in the general vicinity of the Boggy Creek Road interchange.

The goal of the project is to relieve congestion and have regional connectivity. It’s part of the authority’s overall 2040 master plan, which includes other alignments.

One of the current alternatives shows that the extension could go through the 1,700-acre Split Oak Forest preserve, acquired in the 1990s, which is south of the Clapp Simms Duda Road. Environmental conservationists say doing so would defeat the purpose of having protected land that involved millions in funding.

However, if the project does not go through Split Oak, it could mean nine would be taken in the St. Cloud community Lake Ajay Village.

“The board is going to look at all the options. Our job is how are we going to move people in the next 40 years here in Central Florida,” Fred Hawkins, chairman of the Central Expressway Authority, told  Business Journal after the board’s Feb. 8 meeting. “We have to move those people and the to-do list is now, before more development occurs.”

Roughly $70 million has been allocated for the project so far, which would go toward property acquisition and engineering.

He added that going through a community such as Lake Ajay Village, located off Narcoossee Road, likely would be more expensive than going through Split Oak

“The properties directly affected are worth $450,000-$600,000. The property taxes they pay are between $3,000-$5,000 each. Not only will those properties will be affected, but all of them running along this area,” said Stacy Ford, a resident of Lake Ajay Village, during the public comments segment of the meeting. “The worst case for us isn’t that CFX will go through our homes, it’s that CFX puts this road right next to our homes because we don’t get compensation for the impact of that, which is our property values. At minimum, it’s going to be 20 percent.”

And if the project does go through Split Oak forest, Hawkins said there may be land compensated for that loss.

At the next expressway authority meeting on March 8, the board will go over the feasibility and cost of alternative corridors so it can move forward with project development and environment studies.

There are multiple public meetings for those who want to express their concerns regarding how the project may affect their property or commute. The meetings all will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and will be held:

  • Feb. 13 at St. Cloud High School
  • Feb. 15 at Lake Nona Middle School
  • Feb. 21 at the Association of Poinciana Villages Community Center

Lockheed Martin plans to expand Orlando division by 255,000 SF

Global defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. will expand in west as it continues to grab big contracts with work in Central .

The Bethesda, Md.-based company declined to share details until Feb. 14, when it breaks ground at 2 p.m. on its planned new 255,000-square-foot Research and Development II building on the property of the Missiles & Fire Control facility at 5600 Sand Lake Road. The new building is will open in 2019 and lead to job growth.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Executive Vice President Frank St. John will attend tomorrow’s ceremony.

Lockheed Martin is expected to expand its workforce in Orlando as the company was approved for a $3.5 million incentive package from Orange County and Florida last year to create 500 jobs by the end of 2022. Currently, Lockheed Martin has more than 650 job open on its website, calling for software and system engineers, program managers and more.

Lockheed Martin in Orlando often scoops up big contracts. The firm recently grabbed a $148 million deal for its stealth jet fighter F-35 with a chunk of the work happening in Orlando.And on Feb. 12, Longbow LLC — a joint venture between Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Northrop Grumman Corp.(NYSE: NOC) — scored an $8.8 million contract from the U.S. Army for laser and longbow Hellfire engineering services. Work for the one year contract will be performed in Orlando and two other areas.

Lockheed Martin is Central Florida’s seventh-largest employer with more than 9,000 workers, according to Orlando Journal research. Lockheed Martin is also the largest tech firm in Orlando.



The forecast from Kansas City Fed President Esther George: Despite blustery market, expect rate hikes.

George told a Kansas group that the stock market may have had a wild ride of late, but the ’s outlook remains strong, the Wichita Business Journal reports. She pointed to preliminary estimates of the gross domestic product growing at slightly less than three percent, low unemployment rates and signs of compensation increasing.

All of which should lay the ground for the Federal Reserve to continue raising the interest rate — perhaps half a dozen times through 2019.



“The federal funds rate remains well below what estimates are that its longer-run value should be,” George said. “I’m often asked how many rate increases we’ll see this year. Together, the (Federal Open Market Committee) is calling for about three 25-basis-point hikes in the fed funds rate this year and about the same number next year.”