A Fort Lauderdale developer bought nearly 1,400 undeveloped acres in Osceola County, paving the way for more residential and commercial development in Central Florida.
BTI Partners’ Edgewater Property Florida Holdings LLC purchased the land — which is along the west side of Florida’s Turnpike from Kissimmee Park Road to the Three Lakes Toll Plaza — on Aug. 27 for $40 million. It’s likely the largest land deal this year in the Orlando area. The sellers were entities related to the Whaley family.
Development may start in mid-2020. The land has approvals for roughly 5,000 residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial uses.
“We are preparing to make similar pointed land investments across the country and will be significantly increasing the number of homesites we supply to the homebuilding industry,” Justin Onorato, chief investment officer at BTI Partners, said in a prepared statement.
A development of this size likely will deliver more affordable housing to the area, said Brad Parker, a land expert with Longwood-based Southern Realty Enterprises Inc., who wasn’t involved in the deal. That’s important in Orlando where nearly half of the City Beautiful’s households are cost burdened, meaning they’re spending at least 30% of their income on housing.
In addition, metro Orlando has just 13 affordable, available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. Orlando is also among the most expensive housing markets in the U.S.
But large residential developments keeps costs down for builders, which in turn can sell homes for more affordable prices. “Everyone would like to have Isleworth-type communities,” Parker said. “But for the health of the marketplace, we’re going to have to continue to produce entry-level housing.”
Meanwhile, BTI Partners continues to build at The Grove Resort & Water Park, a large condo-hotel property west of Walt Disney World. The developer filed plans in June for a new condo-hotel property just north of its existing towers on 5.4 undeveloped acres. The documents show the company wants to build a 160-room hotel with 9,800 square feet of support facility space and parking, as well as a swimming pool and more.