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Big New Project

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Notice no mention of Ajax or a stadium...

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Deal adds another big project downtown

Investors to develop former Pizzuti block

By Jack Snyder | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted January 7, 2005

Starved for retail

Jan 7, 2005

The long-vacant downtown block at Orange Avenue and Livingston Street, across from the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, is to be sold to investors next week for $17.12 million.

Planning for as much as 1.6 million square feet of development on the site is already under way, said David Barley, one of the deal's participants and president of Palm Beach Land Trust LLC.

The investors are from Palm Beach, elsewhere in South Florida, and New York. Barley would not identify them.

The buying entity will be called Downtown Plaza LLC.

Barley said his firm, Palm Beach Land Trust, has a contract to plan, develop and market the property.

Although everything is tentative at this point, the project would likely include office space, condominiums, parking, and restaurants and shops.

Barley said he plans to hire the Project For Public Places, a New York-based nonprofit urban-design consultant, to help with the planning.

"We want to do this right," he said. "We want to develop a place, not a project."

The 5.64 acres are just west of the county courthouse, on the west side of Orange Avenue. The property is bounded by Livingston Street on the south, Amelia Street on the north and the new Lynx bus terminal and headquarters on the west.

Barley said the investors are impressed with downtown Orlando's resurgence, including the University of Central Florida's new digital-media academy and the Florida A&M Law School.

"Every great downtown needs the presence of a university," Barley said.

The city center currently is undergoing an explosion of planned development, including the $140 million Premiere Trade Center on the previously distressed block at Orange Avenue and Church Street. Plans for that project include office and retail space, condominiums, and a 12-screen theater. It is under construction and is to be completed in 2006.

The Downtown Development Board estimates the value of current downtown construction and proposed projects at $1.3 billion.

The Palm Beach Land Trust is also developing about 123,000 square feet of condominium office space in Seminole County at Lake Mary Boulevard and Interstate 4. That project includes some of the same investors involved in the downtown Orlando purchase, Barley said.

The downtown site is being sold by Ron Pizzuti of Columbus, Ohio, who left the Orlando market in 2002 after more than 15 years of investing and developing in the area.

The property originally was part of a proposed complex called duPont Centre. Pizzuti bought it in 1995 for a proposed mixed-use project, spending millions on planning before deciding to sell the block.

The focal point of Pizzuti's project, which he called Orlando City Center, was to have been a distinctive, cloud-brushing tower topped by a large, open cube.

It was proposed to soar 493 feet above the city -- higher than downtown's current height leader, SunTrust Center, at 441 feet.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration refused to approve the height, citing concerns about takeoff and landing patterns for Orlando Executive Airport a few miles to the east.

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Hmmm, I thought because FBB had placed a ploppable design of the AJAX stadium there that was where it was going to GO? I guess that blows the theory that Central Park Apartments will definitely go in at Rosalind and Central.

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That's great news...hopes something comes from this, and soon. That empty block is an eyesore. One of the great things about the new Lynx station (aside from the neon lights) is that it completely blocks the view of this land when you're on I-4...so at least for a moment, you can just pretend that all of this is filled in.

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Its good to see the urban development boom going full steam in Orlando now. The place will look competely different, once this critical block is developed. If everything proceeds as planned, its looking like the gap between Downtown and Uptown will be filled in before we know it.

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Then what do we call it. Up and coming Orlando Midtown area :D ?

This is good news, now I bet the AJAX will be somewhere in Parramore.

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The Ajax website in the past had only said they had a design and were looking for a backer and a location. It was the FBBArch website 3D Model that had showed the stadium on the pizzuti lot.

With regard to Central Park Apartments, the only indication of its location is also the FBBArch website. In my opinion it has a better chance of actually being at the location primariy because of its name. If it's called "Central" because it's on Central and "Park" because it's near Eola park. Makes sense to me.

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I wouldn't be surprised if the AJAX stadium was near the Citrus Bowl, theres a lot of parking lots around there that could be built on.

The City Center project sounds good, I hope its on the fast track. Whats even more important about this project is that it will be an anchor for the area, and will hopefully bring in more projects around it, filling in gaps.

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Not to mention that plot of land has been an eyesore for years on end.

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Orlando Sentinel,

Investors completed on Tuesday their purchase of the so-called Pizzuti block, at Orange Avenue and Livingston Street in downtown Orlando, for $17.16 million.

David Barley, a participant in the deal and president of Palm Beach Land Trust LLC in Winter Park, said CNL Bank of Orlando provided $8.6 million, which is secured by the 5.64 acres. The balance was raised by David Ortiz, president of Global Investment Group Inc. of Miami, Barley said. Ortiz is a partner in the project along with other investors.

The group is planning 1.6 million square feet of development on the property, including office space, condominiums, retail space and parking.

The property is across Orange Avenue from the Orange County Courthouse and is bounded by Livingston Street on the south, Amelia Street on the north and the new Lynx bus terminal and headquarters on the west.

Barley, whose Palm Beach Land Trust will coordinate the project's development and marketing, said Real Estate Research Consultants of Orlando is conducting focus groups to test development ideas.

"They've held some sessions and have others scheduled," he said.

Jack Lynch, former chief of Orlando operations for Cushman & Wakefield of Florida, will lead the project's marketing effort.

Barley said the investors are impressed with the recent resurgence of downtown Orlando. The Downtown Development Board estimates that $1.3 billion worth of projects are under way or in planning stages in the city's core.

The property was sold by developer Ron Pizzuti of Columbus, Ohio. Pizzuti was a major investor/developer in Central Florida for more than 15 years before pulling out of the market to focus on other projects.

He originally planned a mixed-use project called Orlando City Center for the Orange Avenue site. That project was to feature a distinctive tower with an open cube at the top.

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