MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT
The Packing District is a 200-acre master-planned development located in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando, Florida. 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 advisor for the district and continues to direct projects for both Dr. Phillips and the City.
About Dr. Phillips
Dr. Phillips, Inc. was once one of the largest citrus producers in the US. After the sale of the citrus business to Minute Maid in the late 1950s, many of the properties were retained and converted into various market-rate offices, warehouses, and industrial properties. Known as “Legacy” properties, they serve as the core assets of Dr. Phillips Inc. and the source of contributions to Dr. Phillip’s Charities. Dr. Phillip 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 to become one of the largest income property owners and oldest philanthropic foundations in Central Florida.
The Packing District offers insights into the complex effort and process involved with developing integrated real estate within a large-scale urban master plan. While these Legaccy properties continued to serve them well, the challenge of modernization was emerging as a major initiative that required attention. Dr. Phillips had become seasoned property managers, but the various disciplines and experience of real estate development were not a core part of their business.
SCA began the assignment in 2016, directing the early market feasibility that would define the overall direction. Early research and discovery into the history of Dr. Phillips’ citrus operations further developed a direction that became central to “placemaking”. 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.
At the same time, the team had to address complex assignments related to existing properties including over 1 million SF of tenants and aging office, warehouse, industrial, and commercial buildings serviced by a network of aging existing public roads and utilities. Early procurement included Perkins & Will for planning and GAI for civil engineering. Again, more feasibility analysis and study of existing assets, defining the early road framework and utility improvements needed to support a new master plan.
Another early idea that refined the direction was the commitment to preserve history including adaptive reuse of many of the existing buildings. This required building-by-building evaluation coupled with block-by-block studies to integrate adaptive use with new development.
The emergence of housing as an opportunity created a greater need for public space. Good fortune prevailed with the opportunity for Dr. Phillips to buy a 100-acre in-fill land parcel adjacent to the existing property that would soon be central and vital to the plan. A public/private agreement with the City of Orlando, which included the gifting of the land to the city for a regional park, set in motion a critical infrastructure agreement that would provide upgraded utilities and the aforementioned regional park. The regional park was anchored by a 14-acre lake, a new City Tennis Center, and a YMCA. With integrated public bikeways the district has created one of the most innovative and generous public spaces in Central Florida.
The team set out to finalize the design of mixed uses, new roads, and bikeways. Public spaces were made possible by the early program elements within those established frameworks. With the conceptualization of the plan complete, the effort to set into place an integrated public/private investment plan with the City of Orlando created 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, and expand park space that also would include a new home for the City’s historic tennis center. The private investment by Dr. Phillips would drive critical service updates to the roads and utilities with strong sources of tax and fee revenue to recoup the public investment. The overall project is estimated to total over $500 million in private investment. The public/private partnership was approved by City Council in December 2017.
Work began on the District in 2018. Today the Park, Tennis Center, and YMCA are open for business. Future residents will have numerous choices for rental and ownership. The Publix, food hall, and various retail spaces are in place or coming online. The Packing District is one of the largest urbans in-fill developments in the history of the region and will play a vital role in the City’s future.
About SCA’s role
The Packing District offers a good model for the role SCA can play with integrated real estate solutions. Dr. Phillips relied on SCA’s experience to set in motion the earliest ideas, sought best class professionals in planning and engineering, and coordinated the multi-layered disciples related to market studies, storytelling, economic feasibility, planning, and design. SCA led the acquisition of park land and the formation of public/private agreements. SCA worked as co-manager of 30 million dollars in infrastructure placement. Early marketing efforts secured deals with Publix, Embrey, and Toll Brothers for housing.
SCA’s greatest legacy will be threefold for its clients. First, we built a community. The highest calling of our profession. Second, we worked hand in hand with Dr. Phillips to rebuild their competency as a major income property owner. Three, we were instrumental in transforming an under-utilized property into a major asset to advance the charity’s mission to “carefully foster the growth of such legacy properties while also generously giving back to the community in the form of grants, school sites, libraries, park space, art centers, and hospitals.” Today Dr. Phillips remains one of the largest income property owners and the largest local philanthropic foundation in Central Florida.