While the investors are not yet talking about their plans, they're seeking to capitalize on the fast-growing
The group — which includes
“They had the insight that someday this piece would be valuable, and they were right,” said Picone, who initially marketed the land several years ago for
The 14 properties include six on
Additionally, the developers negotiated a separate deal with
“It was a complicated deal,” Picone said. “It took a long time to put all the parts together, but in the end it was a win-win for everybody.”
The result is an almost solid block of grassy land in a prime location. Picone said the investors are looking at other nearby properties as well.
“The land sales in this area are just exploding, because of all the attention that has been drawn to this corridor, and rightfully so,” he said. “There's an infrastructure and population that is going to need the services that are being constructed. We're catering to the needs of the growth in this area.”
The proposal may face resistance from within the nearby Fruit Belt community, where some residents are tired of the impact of the nearby Medical Campus.
“Everything they're doing as far as development, the current residents don't benefit from it at all,” said
She noted that the “high-end rentals” in many of the projects around the Medical Campus cost more than monthly mortgage payments, while the retail and related services are aimed at the renters and medical population, not residents of the Fruit Belt and other nearby neighborhoods.
“What are you going to offer the community that's going to patronize whatever businesses you put in there?” she asked. “Will it be something that will cater to the Medical Campus and the community, or just the Medical Campus?”
There's also a moratorium on demolition in the Fruit Belt, which the city recently designated as a historic district, although that won't affect the vacant parcels that dominate the recent purchase. “If there are any structures, they can't tear them down,” said Hemphill-Nichols. “The moratorium would have to be lifted first, and because it is a historic district, I don't see that happening anytime soon.”
Instead, she said, “they should be focusing more on homeownership, because that's how you develop a community.”
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