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With people-first mindset, new car condo complex aims to stand out from crowd

Orlando developer Paul Scarpello’s car condo complex in Polk County, Circuit Florida, is the latest in what’s becoming a congested marketplace.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. August 8, 2023
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Paul Scarpello sits in a Ferrari at his Auburndale development, Circuit Florida, whose first condos and racetrack will open in the late fall.
Paul Scarpello sits in a Ferrari at his Auburndale development, Circuit Florida, whose first condos and racetrack will open in the late fall.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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An Orlando-based developer believes 75 luxury condos located in Auburndale will attract people who want to live between Tampa and Disney World, while storing their cars and occasionally racing them on a 1.7-mile private racetrack.

Perhaps because of that racetrack, people from Naples, Lake Worth and Melbourne are slapping down deposits, something Circuit Florida CEO Paul Scarpello didn't fully expect.

Scarpello worked for years as a developer within the sector of commercial real estate. Contemplating early retirement  — he is 54  — Scarpello looked for a second home that had proximity to a racetrack, or perhaps had one on grounds. He looked for years, from Atlanta to California, and could not find something that met his standards.

So Scarpello decided to build his own $100 million development, and he obtained financing. He wanted something between Tampa Bay and Disney World/Orlando, figuring car enthusiasts would want to have a second home near Tampa and Orlando, as well as the House of the Mouse. It took time, but Scarpello found some land along Interstate 4, just west of State Road 559 at Exit 44, in Auburndale in Polk County.

Scarpello can rattle off the driving times to Disney World, downtown Orlando and downtown Tampa from his site, adding he knows Florida will need to upgrade the bustling I-4, perhaps one of the most important interstate stretches in the United States.

But the lifestyle and "second home" pitch are other selling points. The condos will be "luxury two-story townhome-style condo units offering living spaces ranging from 863 to 2,837 square feet with climate-controlled, high-ceiling garage space accommodating up to six cars on the standard polished concrete floor," according to a news release from Circuit Florida.

Prices will start from $475,000 for a Monza studio unit with a one-car garage to the "pinnacle of opulence" with the Le Mans units, priced at just under $1.8 million. The Le Mans unit has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a balcony for entertaining guests, a six-car garage and elevated track views, says Scarpello.

As for the track, it will run 1.7 miles featuring elevation changes, 14 turns and a total of four straights with speeds exceeding 100 mph. (The development will have track insurance, and will employ two EMTs who will possess all the equipment needed.)

It's all very much an eyebrow-raising development for the small city of 17,450, in mostly rural Polk County, in a sedate part of the interstate stretch. While that land along Interstate 4 may not be hot property yet, it is indeed warming up. An Amazon warehouse sits behind Circuit Florida's acreage.

Another large warehouse is being built further east. Developers are eyeing easy, spacey spots to store goods and fulfill orders between two of Florida's hottest and biggest consumer markets. Polk County offers cheaper land and easy access to the all-important I-4, the famous interstate strip that connects Tampa Bay to Orlando and Daytona Beach.

It's one reason Scarpello saw a good place for people who wanted to live the lifestyle of the car enthusiast, even as they use the condo units as second homes or perhaps first homes. Unlike Tampa Bay and the Gulf Coast's several luxury car condos, Scarpello's condominiums are built for humans first, he says. That is, car owners will be able to live there 24/7. Car condos in other parts of the Gulf Coast are not supposed to be living quarters, although buyers can fix them up as they see fit.

The Auburndale condos will offer "plenty of space for indoor car parking" and the noise from the track (which will only allow runs during the day hours) will be mitigated with such things as noise-proofed windows. (The city also asked Scarpello to erect 10-foot walls around the development.)

The track and condo, however, needed what many car condos in the Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Naples areas have: a clubhouse. Circuit Florida will have an 18,000-square-foot clubhouse with an atrium, an outdoor pool, a jacuzzi, a gym, a sauna and showers. Scarpello envisions the development as a "motorsports oasis" with an "opulent gathering place," like the elaborate car condos in the 300-unit Motor Enclave in Tampa and the planned St. Petersburg car condo and clubhouse.

In Auburndale, that place is a three-story member clubhouse and event center building. The club expects to break ground on the final piece of the master site plan by March 2024. Circuit Florida is set to partially open this December, with full completion of the track and the first condo building, Scarpello says, noting so far he has 12 deposits for the planned 75 units.

A surprise selling point, he says, is that Scarpello will be accessible to the residents. After all, Scarpello wants to race too.

"I'm going to have a unit here," says Scarpello. "This is what I want."


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