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An Orlando developer doesn’t want this landfill to go to waste.

MMI Development aims to build 1,500 apartment units and up to 100,000 square feet of commercial space on a former Orange County dump site at 10601 Lake Underhill Road. The project, called Fieldstream Village, would be built in four phases and involve the excavation and remediation of a former Orange County dump that closed in 1980. That landfill has prevented the site from being redeveloped since.

MMI hopes to secure a public-private partnership with Orange County to improve the area, according to a press release. MMI President Mike Wright said in the release he’s asking Orange County to approve tax-increment financing, or TIF, to fund the improvements.

Orange County spokeswoman Kelly Finkelstein confirmed the county is in talks with the developer, but no decisions have been made.

A project cost wasn’t disclosed, but the development may cost roughly $300 million to build, based on industry standards. A construction timeline isn’t known.

“Without the TIF, or Orange County simply coming up with around $40-plus million, no developer is going to be able to do anything with this site,” Wright said in the release. “Conventional financing for a project like this doesn’t exist in today’s environment. Banks just won’t lend on this type of project due to its complexity and the number of variables. That’s why TIF financing is ideal.”

Demand for housing

The development team includes land planners Charlotte, North Carolina-based Shook Kelley; Orlando-based GrayRobinson Shareholder Jason Searl; Windermere-based environmental consultant American Environmental Consulting Inc.; Orlando-based government consulting firm Central Florida Strategies’ Angel de la Portilla; and St. Petersburg-based Hueber Law PLLC’s Brandon Hueber.

Bent Tree Holdings LLC owns the 38-acre site, according to Orange County records, but it wasn’t known how to reach the landowner. Wright is under contract to buy the site. The land’s market value is $1.6 million.

The area is attractive for new residential development as nearby University of Central Florida grows, said Brad Parker, a land expert at Longwood-based Southern Realty, who isn’t involved in the land deal. And the deal speaks to demand for apartments in Central Florida, as developers look to secure any available land for new deals.

“You’re going to see much more redevelopment of properties that have had issues in the past,” Parker said.

Apartment stats

Orlando was one of the hottest areas for apartment growth in the U.S., but the region has felt the impacts of Covid-19.

Apartment rents have fallen 2.2% in Orlando since March 31 due to the pandemic, according to an ApartmentData.com July market report. Class A apartments saw the biggest fall, 3.6%, as demand slowed. But rents have been inching up since March despite not reaching their pre-pandemic levels.

“There are around 6,000 units in lease-up plus another 7,000 units under construction, which will face challenging lease-up times,” according to the report. “Rent collection looms as a huge problem as Congress painfully crafts a second stimulus package.”


Publication: Orlando Business Journal

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