Ocoee to get game-changing retail project. Here's what's driving it.

Feb 26, 2020, 11:12am EST

Retail tenants have had a hard time finding space in Ocoee along Colonial Drive and Maguire Road — a gateway to the upscale Windermere neighborhood.

But Orlando-based developer City Center West Orange LLC plans to tap into that pent-up demand with the first phase of its $1 billion-plus City Center West Orange development. The 60-acre project will feature 200,000 square feet of retail space — along with 450 apartments, 35,000 square feet of office space, a hotel and a 1,900-car parking garage.

Site work has started for the project, which is funded with a construction loan, City Center West Orange President and CEO David Townsend told Orlando Business Journal. Construction is expected to wrap up in 2022.

It's a game-changing project for the area, as it'll double the amount of retail construction that has taken place in the West Colonial submarket during the past decade, said Brian Alford, director of market analytics with CoStar Group (Nasdaq: CSGP). And it'll be the third-biggest retail development in Ocoee, exceeded by only the 1.29 million-square-foot West Oaks Mall and the 250,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter at 10500 W. Colonial Drive, according to real estate research firm Reonomy.

Users targeted for City Center West Orange include restaurants, medical, clothing, spa and nail salons, Townsend said. Beyond that, there's demand for fitness tenants from big boxes to boutique gyms, said Terrence Hart, senior director at Franklin Street of Orlando, who handles retail leasing and is not involved with the project.

Hart said there's demand for new retailers to serve the fast-growing west Orange County region. "The current options for decent retail are very limited at best," he said of the Colonial Drive and Maguire Road area.

The retail submarket's rents are $19.11 per square foot, compared with the Orlando-area average of $23.12 per square foot, according to CoStar Group. The submarket has 11.9 million square feet of retail space, compared with the Orlando-area total of 144.1 million square feet. The average retail vacancy rate for the West Colonial submarket is 5.7%, compared with 4.5% for the overall region.

The project first was proposed in March 2012 and has been working on securing approvals since 2017, Townsend said. In recent months, the city of Ocoee approved permits for foundation construction, and roughly $30 million in bonds were sold.

Apopka-based Randall Construction is the general contractor, and Orlando-based Scott + Cormia is the architect. Apopka-based Earth Trades Inc. is the site work general contractor. There will be subcontractor opportunities for the City Center West Orange's vertical phase of construction, according to a project spokeswoman.

The project's next phase will feature more than 1,000 multifamily, condos and 55-plus units and ultimately will wrap up building by 2025. In total, City Center West Orange is expected to create a whopping 16,000 full-time and temporary jobs.

Jack Witthaus, Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal