Developers are a unusual and remarkable breed. Condo Metropolis sat down for coffee with one of downtown Orlando’s most influential developers, Steve Kodsi of Historic Creations.
“Steve, with The Sanctuary and Star Tower, Historic Creations has created two of downtown Orlando’s most visible and iconic new buildings. Tell me a little about how these two projects came about.”
Well the time was just right for The Sanctuary. It was the real first mixed use Orlando condo project in over 20 years. We wanted to design something special and not just throw a bunch of sub standard condos out there. Originally, we were approved for 288 units at The Sanctuary but we only built 173 units in the end because we knew we couldn’t absorb that many. It’s important to realize what your limits are.
Did you meet much resistance from the city when you first presented the blueprints?
A couple of people on the board thought I was crazy. They said it was impossible and I could never make it happen. But to me it was a no brainer and luckily in the end, I had all the support I needed to make it a reality.
Who are the main buyers for your condominiums?
Our clientele is exactly who we built for. We knew our market and gave them what they wanted. We’re talking about end users, as opposed to investors – users like young professionals and empty nesters. We knew they wanted big square footage, big bathrooms and big closets and they had the means to pay for it. People wanted the big city living feel with all the amenities you’d expect of a hotel – concierge, fitness, pools, retail close by, you name it, and at the time there just wasn’t anything like this around downtown.
And what about Star Tower – your latest building. How does it differ from The Sanctuary?
With Star Tower we wanted to create something different; something edgy and exclusive. I personally like boutique types of buildings so that’s what we’ve built here. In the end, we created just 100 units with big square footages with quality materials and great finishes and of course great amenities. We didn’t compromise. With hindsight we probably should have, but we didn’t. But I’m proud of what we’ve created and I think these buildings will prove to be downtown’s anchor points. We’ve created two great, classic buildings with sustainability.
What is your goal for Orlando?
Our plan is really to make downtown a place where people want to live, so that the folk out in the suburbs actually want to move into the City and help create what a downtown should be. And it’s already starting to happen. As the downtown develops we’re already seeing our population increase.
Has the current climate put Orlando’s growth back in your view?
I actually think downtown hasn’t suffered as much as the suburbs. We have buyers, we just can’t get them financed right now. As soon as things get better I’m sure it will all work out. I don’t think this mess has really altered Orlando’s course and I think the future is great.
So when you look forward, how do you see Orlando?
I think we’re set to be very strong. We have a huge medical center arriving and good prospects for future job growth. When I look forward five or ten years I see a city that’s better than Atlanta and Miami. I honestly think we’re set to be Florida’s premiere city.
So here’s the big question. Have we hit “bottom”?
I think nationally there are still some pockets that may have a little way to go yet. But in Orlando I think we have been one of the first cities to rebound. I think we hit bottom at the end of the first quarter and I think as we’re entering the second quarter we’ll start to see improvements. We’re already seeing them. We have the weather here and so long as it keeps snowing up north, people will continue to come.
How much longer do you think the Buyer’s Market will last?
I’d encourage anyone who’s been waiting to move to get under contract fairly quickly. Personally, I think if you don’t go under contract in the next 90 days you’ve probably missed the boat.
Head over to Condo Metropolis details pages for up to date sales info on the Sanctuary and Star Tower.