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ORLANDO-Savvy developers have long known their profit is made at the front end of a deal, not at a closing years later. The Orlando division of British-based Emerson International Inc. has locked up that strategic element by buying 1,209 acres in a potentially explosive development area at a market price that will ensure future profits.

Emerson paid Carter Land Trust $10.1 million or $8,354 acre (19 cents per sf) for the dirt off Narcoosee Road (County Road 15), south of Tyson Road near Orlando International Airport. The developer plans 200,000 sf of office/retail; 3,000 residences; and an 18-hole golf course. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in 2002. Permitting and bureaucratic paperwork will take two years.

The property overlooks Lake Hart near conservation areas. Nearby is the affluent Lake Nona golf course community, an 8,150-acre development planned for 9,000 homes, six million sf of commercial and 2,000 hotel rooms. Southwest of the Emerson land is a mixed-use venture that will encircle the 1,500-acre Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters. That project encompasses 2,650 homes, 100,000 sf of retail and 300 hotel rooms.

Based in suburban Altamonte Springs, FL, Emerson has been an Orlando area developer for two decades. The developer’s projects comprise the 55-acre CenterPointe on the Park at Cranes Roost Lake in Altamonte Springs; the 126,000-sf CenterPointe Office Park; and two office buildings totaling 200,000 sf. Another 110,000-sf spec office structure is expected to break ground in the first quarter.

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