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ORLANDO-After 20 years of failure with $40 million of public funds, the one square-mile Parramore neighborhood on the lip of Downtown is preparing for an historic facelift.

City council unanimously approved a $12 million, tax-free loan to lead developer Bank of America to kick off a $53-million, mixed-use venture in the city’s most economically-depressed neighborhood.

Besides the loan, the development team is getting a $12-million incentives package that includes cash from the city, county and the state; and state tax credits that can be converted to $4 million cash. The total loan and incentives bundle comes to $28 million.

A tentative May ground-breaking is scheduled for the construction of 254 apartments, 1,000-vehicle parking garage, 25,000 sf of retail and the crowning project, a 150,000-sf, $23-million headquarters building for Hughes Supply Inc., a locally-based, publicly-traded national supplier to the construction industry.

Completion is expected in September 2002.

The enterprise is going up along the shoulder of the city’s entertainment district on West Church Street, between Division and Terry Avenues. That location is three blocks south from a planned $60-million Federal courthouse building and a proposed $30-million Florida A&M University law school.

In the center of the envisioned construction maelstrom is a talked-about $500-million new arena for Orlando Magic.

Partnering with Charlotte-based Bank of America’s Community Development Banking Group are Trammell Crow Co., St. Joe Commercial and the Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corp.

Forty percent of the apartments are reserved for low-income tenants. The balance will be rented at market rates to the general public from $370 to $1,150 per month. The six-story apartment building will offer 25,000 sf of ground-floor retail.

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