Owners of the two downtown blocks the Orlando Sentinel leases have filed plans to redevelop the land with apartments, offices, shopping and a hotel.
Redevelopment plans for the property from Colonial Drive to Amelia Street along North Orange Avenue appear to be long-range. The property is owned by an affiliate of Chicago-based Tribune Media.
Gary Weitman, a spokesman for Tribune Media, said that any future development of the land “would take into consideration any leases that are already in place, including that of the Orlando Sentinel.”
Sentinel Editor Avido Khahaifa said the newspaper has a long-term lease on the property.
Orlando officials have long hoped for a redevelopment of the Sentinel site.
“It’s a major block,” said Chief Planner Dean Grandin. “It’s basically the missing linchpin between north downtown and the central part of downtown, so it’s very important.”
The project calls for two phases of residential and commercial development.
The initial phase, which would be directly north of the Orange County Courthouse, calls for 318 apartments, 140,000 square feet of office space, about 28,000 square feet of retail and 910-space garage, according to plans submitted by Kimley-Horne Associates Inc., a design firm. The land included in the first phase is mostly unused surface parking and three relatively small office buildings.
The second phase includes property where the Sentinel offices are now located between Colonial Drive and Concord Street. It calls for an equal amount of office, retail and parking, as well as another 428 apartments and a 144-unit hotel. Conceptual plans show multiple buildings of four or five stories.
The plans come at a time when the downtown real estate market has been recovering from an eight-year downturn. At the north end of downtown in the past year, four apartment complexes have been completed or started. The business district had office vacancy rates of more than 21 percent at the bottom of the market about three years ago and now has a vacancy rate of about 12 percent, reports show.
The property, which houses the Sentinel’s offices and production facility, is owned by limited liability companies and managed by Tribune Real Estate Holdings LLC, according to state records.
Tribune Real Estate Holdings is a unit of Tribune Media, which recently spun off its newspaper holdings, including the Sentinel, as a separate company called Tribune Publishing.
The property also is home to Ideas, a media and design company, and AMEC, an engineering firm.
The proposed master plan and a traffic impact study was submitted earlier this week. It still must be reviewed by city planners before it is put to a vote by the Municipal Planning Board, and then by the City Council. That’s a process that would likely take several months.