ORLANDO-Orlando city council votes June 3 on a Downtown apartment development deal that would make the value of the land involved the priciest of the year to date on a per-sf-basis in the central business district .

Longwood, FL developer Jay Royall needs a green light from elected officials to break ground on Remington Apartments, a planned 276-unit multifamily project with 17,770 sf of ground-floor retail; a six-story parking garage; swimming pool and spa on a 1.74-acre lot on the east side of north Orange Avenue near the Orlando Sentinel building at 633 N. Orange Ave.

Royall is buying the dirt from Orlando Sentinel Communications Inc., the Sentinel’s publisher, for a so-far undisclosed price. But brokers intimate with Downtown land prices tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the contracted price is about $3.4 million or $1.96 million per acre ($45 per sf).

Orange County real estate records show Sentinel Communications bought the land in 1999 for $3 million or $1.72 million per acre ($40 per sf). The sellers were Vanguard South Partners and Orlando broker Robert P. Hold, acting as trustee.

Royall, president of Royall Construction Co., couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline. But subcontractors who have worked with Royall on other projects tell GlobeSt.com the developer hopes to start construction by Sept. 1 and have the project completed by January 2004 to meet an expected new demand from tenants at that time.

Royall’s planned project is near two other newly development apartment communities, Echelon at Uptown and Echelon at Cheney Place.

Metro Orlando’s 139,368 apartment units are 92.2% occupied, down from 95.1% in December 2001, according to the most recent statistics from M/PF Research Inc. of Carrollton, TX.

Demand has slowed from peak construction and renting years of 1996 through 1999 as lower interest rates entice previous apartment renters to buy single-family homes for the first time, M/PF research director Greg Willett and other analysts tell GlobeSt.com.

But demand is expected to pick up again in metro Orlando over the next few years as the pace of new construction slows and fewer units surface, shelter analysts say. A total 1,400 new units at five developments have been delivered in the past three years or are being completed this year Downtown, Orlando building permit numbers show.

The developments are Post Parkside on Central Boulevard at Lake Eola, 260 units; Echelon at Uptown, north Orange Avenue and Marks Street, 244 units; Echelon at Cheney Place, north Orange Avenue, 303 units; Lincoln at DeLaney Square, South Street and Rosalind Avenue, 364 units; and The Waverley, east Colonial Drive, 230 units.

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