The Miami-based intercity rail service said in a January monthly revenue and ridership report that it wants to start revenue service for the 170-mile expansion in second-quarter 2023. Construction on the expansion is 90% complete.
Why this matters: New rail service has the potential to connect business and leisure travelers between Orlando and south Florida. The new service also is expected to add jobs.
Representatives with Brightline confirmed with Orlando Business Journal the timetable for the start of revenue service.
In addition to the start of revenue service, the system plans to finish its 37,350-square-foot Orlando train station at Orlando International Airport's Intermodal Terminal Facility in March. The completion of the station construction will be separate from the start of service timeline.
The system also expects to complete in March its east-west corridor, which runs along State Road 528.
Other construction in Orlando already has wrapped up for the system. Zone 2, a 3.5-mile stretch at Orlando International Airport, was completed Oct. 13, 2021. The $100 million,135,805-square-foot ve
In addition to the Orlando airport connection, Brightline also is working on a shared corridor with SunRail called the Sunshine Corridor. The path would allow SunRail to connect with destinations like the Orange County Convention Center, South International Drive near Walt Disney World Resort and the airport, while also letting Brightline make its eventual expansion to Tampa.
Brightline is preparing to get conductors acquainted with a portion of its Central Florida expansion.
The Miami-based intercity rail system on Jan. 17 will start running trains on a 130-mile portion of track between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, per a notice from Brightline. The trains — which will be without passengers and run at 60 miles per hour — will run one roundtrip a day.
"Qualifying runs are the federally approved approach to familiarize certified engineers and conductors with new rail territory," the company said. "Operating a train requires engineers and conductors to be intimately familiar with the rail corridor, including road crossings, signals, curves and speed restrictions."
Other local train systems like SunRail also have had to make qualifying runs, Bob O'Malley, vice president of corporate development in the Orlando office for Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based Railroad Consultants PLLC and a former Brightline employee, told Orlando Business Journal. "There’s a specific threshold (of miles) they need to reach, but I don’t know the exact amount."
The Brightline train system expects to go through additional tests on the full corridor before it starts passenger service.
Brightline spokeswoman Katie Mitzner said the company will start with training two engineers, who over the course of the next year will help familiarize 28 other engineers with the corridor. Mitzner added that the company likely will hire additional staff as it gets closer to the launch of service.
One of the next construction milestones for the company, according to its most recent quarterly report in December, is that by February it will deliver new train sets to its vehicle maintenance facility in Orlando, which is expected to wrap up in early 2022.
Meanwhile, Brightline's $2.7 billion Central Florida route is currently 70% complete. The 168-mile expansion is expected to wrap construction by the end of this year and begin service by early 2023.
By Ryan Lynch – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal
Yet another deal is in the works between Walt Disney Co. Central Florida's biggest employer and Lake Nona developer Tavistock.
Burbank, California-based Disney (NYSE: DIS) is in talks with Tavistock Development Co. to develop an age-restricted community as part of the roughly 27,000-acre Sunbridge development near southeast Orlando's Lake Nona community, Orlando Business Journal has learned.
More details on the size, scope and construction timeline for Disney and Tavistock's age-restricted community wasn't known. Representatives with Disney and Tavistock weren't available for comment.
The talks come on the heels of Disney's revelation on July 15th that it would relocate 2,000 jobs to Lake Nona as part of an $864 million investment.
The planned new community would be like a smaller version of The Villages, a huge age-restricted community northwest of Orlando, sources told OBJ.
It's no surprise that Disney would be interested in an age-restricted concept. After all, The Villages was the third-fastest growing area in the U.S. for housing units in the past decade and is the second most popular master-planned community so far this year in terms of home sales.
More on Sunbridge
That said, the Sunbridge community, which is in Orange and Osceola counties, has room to grow. Sunbridge can support a combined 22,700 single-family homes, 13,990 apartments, 6,000 hotel rooms along with more than 11 million square feet of office space and 3.9 million square feet of industrial space among other uses.
The multi-decade development already features Del Webb Sunbridge, a 55-plus active-adult neighborhood on 700 acres near Narcoossee Road on the south side of Cyrils Drive, which opened in summer 2020.
Meanwhile, the 575-home Weslyn Park north of Cyrils Drive is expected to open in Sunbridge this year along with Basecamp, an information center and activity hub.
Why Disney is interested
Real estate experts agreed that the age-restricted community development may be a boon for Disney.
Consider: Demand for local senior care housing and services is forecast to boom in the next decade. Orlando is expected to reach about 1 million people age 65 and older between 2025-2030, for the first time outnumbering the younger demographic of those up to age 17, as previously reported by the Orlando Business Journal. That means more elder services will be needed in Central Florida by 2030, including independent-living communities, memory-care and skilled nursing homes, as well as developments that cater to active seniors.
"Everyone talks about the silver tsunami. It's absolutely coming," said Trey Vick, CEO of Apopka-based Strive Senior Living LLC, who is not involved in the project.
Meanwhile, Disney's brand appeals across generations, and Walt Disney World is a draw for residents of The Villages, which is less than a two-hour drive from the theme parks.
That's according to Bree Tucker, an agent and partner of Orlando-based real estate firm The Pozek Group. Tucker is involved in The Villages residential deals and knows interested buyers want to be near Walt Disney World due to personal interest and for visiting family members.
However, one of the biggest advantages of Sunbridge's location is its proximity to Orlando International Airport, Tucker said. She said the distance from a major airport is a drawback for Villages residents who hail from across the U.S. and the world.
"Being near an airport would be a huge draw for people in the Sunbridge community."
By Jack Witthaus – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal
We remember when it was normal for it to possibly take months to sell a listing. After the 2008 financial crisis the MLS was full of distressed properties and in many areas there was an estimated six years of inventory!
Today it's literally hours and maybe a few days before we have back to back showing appointments and offers lining up in our email. In the Orlando market, home buyers can’t risk leisurely weighing several listings and sleeping on it before committing to likely the most expensive purchase of their life. Even though it's nerve racking, most buyers when they finally get that home find they made the right decision. You are living the much desired Florida lifestyle while at the same time investing in a area where growth doesn't slow down. At the end of the day, with the continued demand for so many to live in the vacation capital, it's a wise wealth investment.
The big question we get almost daily is when is the market gonna crash like in 2008? We always respond no guarantees but it's highly unlikely. This current market we are experiencing is completely different that 2008. The subprime mortgages that overstretched buyers’ budgets don't exist anymore. The banks and government regulations now put much tougher demands on income documentation and have stricter guidelines that need to be met before approving a mortgage.
But for us in the Orlando market especially it's not just demand it's the lack of supply. According to the National Association of REALTORS chief economist, Lawrence Yun, "In the housing bubble heyday, builders overbuilt. By my calculations, America had 2.1 million surplus housing units by 2006. Following the crash, underproduction steadily chipped away at the surplus, such that inventory normalized by 2011. Continuing underproduction led to the housing shortage. By 2015, the shortfall was 2 million homes. By the end of 2020, it totaled 4.8 million homes. The lack of inventory is why home prices are in no danger of falling sharply.
In addition Yun adds, "Home building activity in 2021 is expected to be slightly above historical norms. But it will take at least a few years to correct the massive shortage. In the meantime, we expect the national median home price to rise 9% this year and another 3% in 2022. Hyperspeed home buying should taper off by year’s end as supply improves and affordability challenges persist."
We know home buyers are looking for some type of reprieve from the cut throat competition. It's not unusual for a family to make offers on multiple homes before something lands...if someone else didn't waive their rights to a home inspection, offer way over asking price, offer to pay the difference in cash when it doesn't appraise, or just pay the whole lump in cash and close in two weeks. It's exhausting but we encourage buyers to hang in there....the wait will be the reward of soon owning your own little piece of the Sunshine state.
Get ready a 36 acre mixed use development that will include apartments, commercial space and 9 acres of up to 92 townhomes has been approved by Orlando city commissioners to begin on the fringes of Orlando's booming and popular Lake Nona community.
The homes are expected to be a high-end product similar to Lake Nona's neighborhood Laureate Park. Lake Nona is one of Orlando's top-selling communities even though it's average home sales price is almost twice the average Central Florida price of $360K.
The Lake Nona area is desirable for buyers because of the jobs supported by Orlando International Airport , nearby Amazon warehouse and access to Kissimmee and major connecting highways.
Townhomes are popular with a wide range of buyer. From first time homebuyers, families, and investors. The townhomes in Lake Nona in particular are hot because it gets you into the community with a smaller price tag than a single family home.
RE/MAX Premier Properties
Kissimmee, FL 34741
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