Many of the projects are decidedly upscale, featuring $300,000 bottom units and million-dollar penthouses. A few come in at a more modest $150,000.
Driving the trend are three factors: Longer commute times, low interest rates and financing that makes it easier to develop condos than apartments.
"Apartments just didn't make sense," says David Eichenblatt, who bought the Four Points Sheraton (former Harley Hotel) near Lake Eola for $6 million and is converting it to condominiums. "Rates are low, so people come out ahead owning, plus there is that pride of ownership."
The new condo, dubbed The Metropolitan at Lake Eola, will take a hotel with 203 rooms, 48 suites and some conference rooms and turn it into 119 one- and two-bedroom condos and nine penthouses. The average price will be about $155,000 to $160,000, Eichenblatt says. Without any marketing at all, The Metropolitan signed up 170 prospective purchasers in the first two months, and occupancy is not anticipated until June.
Two other condo projects are apartment conversions: The Waverly on Lake Eola and the GrandeVille on Delaney apartments, which will become Lakeside at Delaney Park.
While there are some projects at the moderate end to round out urban neighborhoods with a diverse population, much of the focus is on the upscale projects. At 55 West, 155 units were sold during the first 10 days when the developer offered preconstruction sales, despite prices that tickle $400,000.
The Sanctuary, a $60-million project, is 60% sold. The building is the brainchild of Steven Kodsi, president of Historic Creations Design/Development Group. The success of the development -- occupancy isn't expected for another year -- has prompted his company to launch plans for The Star Tower, which will feature 12-foot ceilings and command prices upward of $300 per square foot.
"We target the suburbs; we target the urban areas," says Kodsi. "We're getting a lot of attention from urban professionals in Chicago and Atlanta and all over. It's really a diverse mix of urban singles, gay couples, retirees, empty-nesters."
Downtown Condo Projects
La Costa Brava: 194-unit property on East Michigan Street.
Eola South Condominiums: 23 units under construction just south of Thornton Park.
55 West: 31-story, 306-unit tower proposed for Church Street Market.
Lakeside at Delaney Park: 90-unit low-rise apartment conversion on Delaney Avenue.
The Metropolitan: 128-unit conversion of Four Points Sheraton hotel on Lake Eola.
Newton Corner: 22-unit, four-story building between Harding and Muriel streets.
North Orange Condominiums: 276 units planned for vacant land on Orange Avenue just north of Colonial Drive.
The Sanctuary: 18-story, 177-unit tower under construction.
The Star Tower: 110-unit, 16-story building planned for Osceola Street between Jackson and Mariposa streets.
The Waverly: 230-unit, 22-story apartment conversion.
IN THE NEWS
Apopka -- The city agreed to a new 30-year electric service deal, which includes a buyout clause, with Progress Energy Florida.
FLORIDA TRENDLINE?HIGH TECHSimulation's Impact
The metro Orlando region -- Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole counties -- is home to 102 simulation, modeling and training companies. According to a study commissioned by the Orlando-based National Center for Simulation, the industry is responsible for creating in the Orlando area:
- More than 5,950 direct employees
- 16,848 direct and indirect jobs
- More than $2.5 billion in gross regional product
- More than $1.3 billion in direct and indirect sales
- More than $186 million in state and local tax revenue annually
Source: "Impact of Florida's Modeling, Simulation and Training Industry," fall 2003Bartow -- Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet took the final step necessary for a Georgia amusement park operator to take over Cypress Gardens, approving a state purchase of a conservation easement. Polk County commissioners had already agreed to spend $2.5 million to buy the 30-acre core of the park. The Trust for Public Land will carry a $7-million mortgage for new operator Kent Buescher.
Celebration -- New York investment firm Lexin Capital bought downtown Celebration from Walt Disney Co. for an undetermined price. Lincoln Property Co. will continue to manage the facilities.
The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society will move its headquarters from Montgomery, Ala., after Osceola County officials approved $110,000 in incentives and the state agreed to kick in $440,000. The organization expects to employ about 110.
Daytona Beach -- Pyramid Advisors of Boston has purchased the Adam's Mark Resort in Daytona Beach and the Adam's Mark Clearwater Beach as part of an eight-hotel deal for $236 million. Pyramid will renovate and rebrand the hotels.
City planners approved a project calling for 582 single-family homes and 130 town homes in the LPGA development after the developers, MKSP Volusia Partners and Indigo Development, agreed to provide land for a fire station and build the building.
Longwood -- Members of the Alaqua Country Club who hold a mortgage on the property filed a foreclosure lawsuit after the struggling club shut down.
Mascotte -- The Mascotte City Council annexed nearly 1,000 acres, which it plans to rezone to enable the construction of more than 1,600 homes.
Melbourne -- Harris Corp. (NYSE-HRS) was awarded a one-year, $96-million Pentagon contract to rebuild the Iraqi media network. Plans call for Harris and two Middle East media companies to rebuild the television and radio broadcast infrastructure as well as create news bureaus and full national television and radio networks. Two additional six-month options could increase the value of the contract to nearly $165 million.
Symetrics Industries will help develop a system to protect commercial airliners from terrorist missile attacks under a contract awarded by the Department of Homeland Security. The department's two-phase deal could be worth $100 million to the teams involved in the program.
Orlando -- Barnie's Coffee and Tea Co. opened its first location in Kuwait and expects to open another this month. Barnie's also has franchise agreements for stores in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.
The Orlando Regional Healthcare System scaled back expansion plans for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Children for the second time. The new design calls for an 11-story, $100-million building connected to the existing facility by an elevated walkway. The original plan called for an office/retail building and a five-story expansion of the existing facility as well.
Central Florida Restaurants LLC plans to pay $3.15 million to buy 10 of 11 Friendly Restaurants in central Florida from Friendly Ice Cream Corp. of Wilbraham, Mass. The deal calls for Central Florida Restaurants to build 10 additional restaurants by 2011 and gives it the option to build an additional 15.
Pharmaceuticals distributor CuraScript Pharmacy Inc. says it will be acquired by Express Scripts Inc. of St. Louis for $335 million in cash.
Adelphia Communications plans to open a national call center in south Orlando, hiring about 80 people this month and building to 450 by July or August. The operation will fill the former Lexmark call center that was closed in 2003.
Ormond Beach -- Tim Curtis and Gale Lemerand have bought the Florida franchise rights to the San Francisco Oven restaurant chain. The Ohio-based chain has two restaurants open and more than 80 in development in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Florida. The deal calls for Curtis and Lemerand to build at least 10 restaurants on their own and assist in the development of another 80 to 90 restaurants throughout Florida in the next decade. The first will open in Lake Mary.
Winter Park -- The Sembler Co. of St. Petersburg announced plans for a 1.3-million-sq.-ft. open-air shopping mall. The project is in the early stages and won't open before 2006.
Nicholson Homes bought 216 homesites off Buckeye Loop and Highway 27. The homes will be priced at $120,000 to $160,000.
DISPLAY OF GLASS
ORLANDO -- Contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly's exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art showcases a wide range of styles that highlight the artist's unusual ability to combine fanciful colors and shapes with attention to detail. The Orlando display is paired with a similar one in St. Petersburg and marks the first time two major art museums have collaborated to show Chihuly's work at the same time.
The two shows include pieces specifically created for each venue. In Orlando, the show opens in the museum's glass-domed atrium, for which Chihuly created a 20-foot glass tower from 434 glass bulbs and spirals. Every display is matched with customized niches and lighting. The show runs through May 30 in both locations.