Rida Development Corp.’s Marc Reicher has seen plenty of momentum on his firm’s 5.7-acre downtown project since July — and it’s been a long time coming.
Reicher, whose firm on Oct. 24 officially announced it will move forward with the first phase of a $200 million transit-oriented development in downtown Orlando, first talked with me about the project in December 2009, when then-Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation to establish a Florida-wide rail system. Rida’s project was planned to be a true transit-oriented development, with a mix of uses adjacent to not only Lynx Central Station but one of the downtown stops for Central Florida’s planned 61-mile, $1.3 billion SunRail.
But at the time, the economy and still-shaky status of SunRail prevented the firm from really pushing plans, he said.
That’s why when federal, state and local officials gave the project the green light this July with the signing of a grant-funding agreement, things began to accelerate, Reicher said.
“It’s hard to give attention to a project until the game-changer component is in place,” Reicher said on Oct. 24, prior to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s planned announcement of Rida’s project at his “State of Downtown” address. “The light bulb burned a little bit brighter because [SunRail was] actually happening.”
Rida, whose site sits across Orange Avenue from the Orange County Courthouse, is now working on the first $100 million phase of its Central Station project, which will include 320 units of for-rent apartments, about 180 hotel rooms, about 15,000 square feet of retail and a park leading to the rail platform. The firm is currently working on agreements for the first phase while also finalizing a master plan that would need to be approved by the city of Orlando, Reicher said.
The balance of Central Station would be completed at a later date, but the overall project would bring the city 1,000 construction jobs along with 2,000 permanent jobs.
Though the firm has yet to set a groundbreaking date for the project, Reicher said they’re looking to be completed with the first phase when SunRail begins running, sometime in 2014.
And this is likely just the first of many more projects that are slated to come online as SunRail gets closer to completion. For a look at some other transit-oriented projects tied to SunRail.