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ORLANDO-The $129 million, 325,000-sf new Florida Hospital Waterman, scheduled to open its twin, six-story towers in July 2003, is generating a feverish race among retail, residential and medical office developers to debut at about the same time in Tavares, FL, a Lake County municipality of 8,000 permanent residents whose largest industry is a 1,000-cell county jail, 35 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

The newest planned project, directly across from the 204-bed hospital on U.S. 441 North, is Lakeview Professional Medical Office Park, an estimated 200,000-sf undertaking within the 47-acre Lakeview Center.

Nashville, TN-based Symbion Healthcare, a national surgery center developer and Mount Dora, FL-based GC Development Group plan to break ground by year end on a 12,000-sf outpatient surgery center whose estimated hard construction cost is $5 million or about $400 per sf, local construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

GC Development principals and William Baker, Lakeview Center’s owner, couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to confirm the project’s size, cost, land prices and projected rents.

Area construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com the hard construction cost of most of the buildings on the campus will be double and even triple the cost of conventional class A professional office space because of the high-tech medical wiring, paraphernalia and customized equipment required by the tenants.

For example, a 200,000 medical park at $400 per sf, would have an estimated hard construction cost of $80 million, construction estimators tell GlobeSt.com. Individual doctor groups are negotiating for land purchases at the proposed medical campus.

On the retail side, Watkins Retail Group of Orlando and Peregrine Properties Inc. of San Francisco have their 44-acre Triangle MarketPlace half completed and expect to open the shopping center at U.S. 441 North and David Walker Drive on or before the hospital’s debt next July.

A second medical campus, Triangle Medical Office Park is also planned near the Watkins-Peregrine project.

The hospital has also triggered the development of Victoria Park at Lakeview, a 103-unit, 8.6-acre senior housing apartment venture planned by Atlanta-based Osprey Property Group.

Preliminary plans for a hotel have been filed with Tavares and the county for a site at U.S. 441 and Mount Homer Road.

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