55west5

I am in Orlando and I have purposely not checked anything to do with real estate. Since I am leaving tomorrow, I thought I’d cheat to get into some semblance of work mode after I get back. Here is the market in comparison to Toronto as of November 2011

On the condo market side, its dead. I mean why would someone buy a brand new condo when they could get a detached home with a big lot for under $160,000?
On the new construction side, the condo market is deader than dead. The new construction drama in Orlando is really illustrated with the life of a great looking project called 55 West on the Esplanade.
55 West is a 33 Storey building in downtown Orlando with about 400 residential units and retail and nighclub space at the base and across the street. It’s a great location, right in the middle of the most urban part of Orlando, in fact on the way to see the Magic and Raptors, my brother walked from there to the Amway Centre.
The streetscape, is amazing and highly walkable. St Lawrence market in Toronto should look this good.
Condos in Florida traditionally were only near waterfronts, so having an urban focused condo is a very new thing in Orlando.  The project was first proposed in 2003, when the Orlando’s real estate market was in the midst of its huge upswing. The plan was to offer luxury units “including lavish $4 million penthouses,” retail and night clubs at the base.
The building was built with the intention of selling the units once completed (read: no preconstruction buying) and was financed with about $180 million in costs by SNS Property Finance, a Dutch lender. The building was finally completed in 2009 after much delays and many units sat vacant as the market tanked in Orlando.
The developer subsequently was foreclosed on and the bank sat with an empty building. While empty, the building was accruing costs from utilities, taxes, security and maintenance and the bank decided to try and rent the units. In 2009, it was expected that the building would be 80% occupied in 18 months…which didn’t happen.
The Dutch bank later sold 55 West to a Boston investment group in March of 2011 for an estimated $75 million, some of the commercial space has been leased as I walked by.

So that is that…If you want some more information on the Orlando, let me know, I can put you in touch with the right people.