THE PACKING DISTRICT
The Packing District is a 200-acre master planned development led by Dr. Phillips Charities the City of Orlando. The district is in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando, Florida. Dr. Phillips, Inc. was once the largest citrus producer in the US and the District is at the site of one of their original citrus processing and packaging operations dating back to the early 1900’s. The Packing District will include a vibrant mix of commercial and residential properties, both new construction and adaptive reuse of historic warehouses, as well as a 100+ acre public park. SC Advisors was the development advisors to Dr. Phillips Charities for the planning and entitlement process for the district and continues to direct the several projects for both Dr. Phillips and the City.
The Packing District is a 200-acre master planned development owned by Dr. Phillips, the project offers ideal insights regarding the complex effort and process involved with developing integrated real estate. SCA has worked with Dr. Phillips since 2012 on numerous development projects.
Dr. Phillips, Inc. was once the largest citrus producer in the US. A flagship original citrus processing and packaging operations was located on a 200-acre property dating back to the early 1900’s. After the sale of the Citrus business to Minute Maid in 1954, the property was retained by DP and converted to various market rate office, warehouse and industrial properties anchoring the legacy property as a core asset of Dr Philips’s Inc. portfolio for years to come. This legacy property begins the growth of Dr Phillip’s Inc as a major income property owner. Other important assets, such as the entire Dr. Philip’s area in Southwest Orange County, would be artfully planned with remarkable vision for what was to become the thriving Central Florida marketplace of today. Dr. Phillip’s carefully fostered the growth of their legacy properties while also generously giving back to the community in the form of school sites, libraries, park space, art centers and hospitals. Today Dr. Phillip’s remains one of the largest income property owners and the largest local philanthropic Foundation in Central Florida.
While these properties continued to serve them well, the challenge of modernization was emerging as a major initiative that required attention. While DP had become seasoned property managers, the various disciplines and experience of real estate development was not a core part of their business.
In 2013, SCA was interviewed for the assignment of advising Dr. Phillips with new project development. SCA was engaged for the initial Spring Lake project in the same year. SCA lead and integrated development process beginning with market analysis, project conceptualization, selecting operating partners, financial structuring, all aspects of design, engineering and construction oversight. While the project was underway SCA assisted with finding major anchor tenants for the 60,000 S.F medical office complex and 180 bed mixed acuity senior center. The project was completed in 2015, with the MOB opening fully leased and the senior housing has exceeded projections in occupancy levels and rates.
Spring Lake was a critical launch into the development space and SCA was proud to have led the advisory role to the projects very successful completion as the first new $90,000,000 investment property added to DP’s portfolio.
Success paved the way for a new opportunity. The 200-acre legacy tract of the original citrus operation. A far more complex assignment, this property included 1 million S.F. of existing and aging office, warehouse, industrial and commercial buildings serviced by a network of aging existing public roads and utilities. A plan had to also protect existing tenant bases that produced income while being developed. However, the asset was uniquely located just west of one of Orlando’s most desirable urban neighborhoods (Collage Park) and minutes from downtown Orlando and major transportation hubs.
SCA began the assignment in 2016, directing the early market feasibility and procuring the planning team of Purdue & Will for planning and GAI for civil engineering. Market feedback suggested the history of the citrus property was valued and its proximity to the Collage Park neighborhood also suggested housing could be introduced as a major component.
Again, early market feasibility was vital to set a direction for the vision and the uses. Updated infrastructure including transportation, utilities and stormwater had to work to establish the platform for success and a creative approach to the existing building inventory would be required to create the plan.
SCA recommended the acquisition of an adjacent 100-acre property long fallow and unused to play a critical role in defining the plan. Using this new tract to create a dynamic new urban park and 14-acre lake established a creative development path offering a critical stormwater solution while delivering Orlando’s newest urban public space and the open space feature critical to develop housing components into the mixed-use community.
With a new plan that integrated historical buildings with new development for housing, retail, office, and commercial the vision of The Packing District was born with over 500,000 S.F. of commercial, retail and office uses, 1,500 residential units and a 100 acre park space.
With the conceptualization of the plan complete SCA lead the effort to set into place an integrated public/private investment plan with the City of Orlando. The city had the opportunity to quickly grow and foster responsible development that met numerous objectives including new housing for the city’s growth, support uses such as retail and commercial, expanded park space that also would include a new home for the City’s historic tennis center. The private investment by Dr. Phillips would drive valued service updates to the road and utilities with strong sources of tax and fee revenue to recoup the public investment. The overall projected is estimated to total over $500 million in total private investment. The public/private partnership was approved by the City Council in December 2017.
SCA would also lead efforts to procure the initial development components including the first two housing projects of 400+ units, the grocer anchor retail center, and YMCA. SCA continues it’s involvement with oversight of over $60,000,000 in public improvements including the Park, road and utility updates, and the 4 Roots farm.
The Packing District offers a good model for the role SCA can play with integrated real estate solutions.