ABOUT THE PACKING DISTRICT
The Packing District (“District”) is a 200-acre master planned development led by Dr. Phillips Charities and the City of Orlando. The district is in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood. Dr. Phillips, Inc. (“DP”) was once the largest citrus producer in the US. The District is the site of one of their original 200 acre citrus processing and packaging operations dating back to the early 1900’s. After the sale of the citrus business to Minute Maid in 1954, DP retained the property and converted it into various market rate office, warehouse and industrial properties. This legacy property began DP’s growth as a major income property owner. The Packing District will include a vibrant mix of commercial and residential properties, showcasing both new construction and adaptive reuse of historic warehouses. In addition, it will include a 100+ acre public park. SC Advisors (‘SCA”) was the development advisor to Dr. Phillips Charities for the district planning and entitlement process. SCA continues to direct several projects for Dr. Phillips and the City of Orlando.
This project offers ideal insights into the complex effort and process involved in developing integrated real estate. SCA has worked with Dr. Phillips since 2012 on numerous development projects.
In 2013, SCA was engaged by Dr. Phillips to advise on upcoming project developments. SCA led an integrated development process beginning with market analysis, project conceptualization, selecting operating partners, financial structuring, and 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 medical office building fully leased and the senior housing exceeding occupancy and rate projections.
While DP had become seasoned property managers, real estate development was not a core part of their business. Spring Lake was a critical launch into the development space. This success paved the way for the next opportunity.
The 200-acre legacy tract of the original citrus operation includes 1 million square feet of current and outdated office, warehouse, industrial and commercial buildings. It was serviced by an aging road and utility network. The property is located just west of one of Orlando’s most desirable urban neighborhoods (Collage Park). It is also minutes from downtown Orlando and major transportation hubs. A plan was also needed to protect existing tenant bases that produced income during development.
SCA began the assignment in 2016, directing the early market feasibility and procuring Purdue & Will for planning and GAI for civil engineering. Market research suggested the citrus property’s history was valued and its proximity to the College Park neighborhood suggested housing could be introduced as a major component.
Updated infrastructure including transportation, utilities and stormwater had to work to establish the platform for success. 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. Using this new tract, a dynamic new urban park and 14-acre lake established a creative development path offering a critical stormwater solution while delivering Orlando’s new urban public space and the open space features necessary to develop housing components into the mixed-use community.
Through an innovative plan that incorporated historical buildings with new developments for housing, retail, office, and commercial uses, the Packing District was conceived. It has over 500,000 square feet of commercial, retail, office, 1,500 residential units and a 100-acre park.
With the conceptualization plan complete, SCA led efforts to implement an integrated public/private investment plan with the City of Orlando. The city grew rapidly and fostered responsible development. This included construction of housing for the city’s growth, support uses such as retail and commercial, expanded park space, and a new home for the City’s historic tennis center. Dr. Phillips’ private investment drove valuable service updates to the road and utilities with a strong sources of tax and fee revenue to recoup the public investment. The overall projected investment is estimated to total over $500 million in total private investment. The City Council approved the public/private partnership in December 2017.
SCA would also lead efforts to procure initial development components. This included the first two housing projects of 400+ units, the grocer anchor retail center, and the YMCA. SCA continues its involvement with oversight of over $60,000,000 in public improvements including park, road, utility updates, and the 4 Roots farm.
The Packing District offers an excellent model for the role SCA can play with integrated real estate solutions.