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ORLANDO-The Wilder Cos. of Boston has acquired a prime niche redevelopment site in the fast-developing Dr. Phillips residential-commercial area of South Orlando with the $9.3-million purchase of the shuttered and foreclosed-on 33-year-old, 695-room Days Inn on Sand Lake Road.

Wilder paid LM Orlando Hospitality Inc. a premium $715,385 per acre, or $16.42 per sf, for the 13.6-acre tract where it plans to break ground by year end on the Rialto, a proposed $75-million, 350,000-sf mixed-use venture offering 125,000 sf of retail among 20 high-end shops, 40,000 sf of office and 200 deluxe condominium homes.

“This is an opportunity [for Wilder] to redevelop a key portion of Sand Lake Road that failed to keep up with the times,” says Robin Webb, general manager of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT’s Winter Park office. “The Rialto will be an excellent complement to the existing shopping and dining choices in the area.” Webb and Jim Coppersmith of Coldwell Banker Commercial negotiated for Wilder. Keith Thompson of TCF represented the seller. The property was on the market for six months before Wilder put it under contract.

Wilder plans to demolish the hotel structure this summer. The hotel has been closed for 10 years. Webb says the retail and office space is expected to open in 2006. Condo marketing will begin later this year with expected occupancy in 2007. The redevelopment site has 1,000 feet of Sand Lake frontage and offers scenic views of Spring Lake at the rear of the planned project.

“It has been important to us to create a project that is in keeping with its surroundings is welcome by area residents,” says Thomas V. Wilder, a principal at the Wilder Cos. “We worked closely with the community to design the Rialto to be esthetically pleasing, sized and scaled correctly.”

Wilder adds the company “also worked to insure that the views across Spring Lake to the Rialto are appealing. The result is a project with Mediterranean-inspired architecture, lush landscaping and a pedestrian-friendly environment.”

The deal for the Days Inn site took a year to complete, from contract signing to closing because there were challenges that had to be resolved, Wilder tells GlobeSt.com. The company “coordinated a fast-track entitlement process that successfully changed the land use and zoning to accommodate mixed-use residential and commercial,” Wilder says.

The developer was also able to negotiate a Capacity Enhancement Agreement with the local school district “to overcome concerns regarding impact of the residential component on the local schools,” Wilder says. The company will be loaning the school district $3 million to construct new classrooms.

Besides the Rialto redevelopment, Wilder Cos. has just opened the Loop, a 440,000-sf, $65-million, open-air power center at John Young and Osceola Parkways in south Orlando. The 33-acre project was under construction for the past 18 months.

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