Carroll Gardens

Franco Scala’s brownstones of Thornton Park inspired by Carroll Gardens’ architecture

June 24, 2015 By Palmer Hasty Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Franco Scala at the Ground Breaking for his Brownstones of Thornton Park project in Orlando, Florida.

Last year, The Brownstones of Thornton Park near downtown Orlando, Florida, held the groundbreaking ceremony  for a new  $6 million residential development project that will give Orlando’s most stylish district a very distinctive Brooklyn flair, thanks to Franco Scala.  

The Thornton Park district in Orlando was realizing what locals had called a “Renaissance” back in 2008, with high-rise apartment buildings, upscale restaurants and trendy retail shops being planned for development.  When the economy, and especially the real estate markets, tanked, virtually all of the development projects came to a standstill.

Six years later, as the economy showed signs of slowly emerging from the long recession, some developers interested in Thornton Park began to pick up where they left off.

Scala, an Orlando resident and co-owner of F&J Developers, was one of these developers.  He envisioned what he calls “modernized Brownstones” for Orlando’s upscale Thornton Park.  His inspiration came from his childhood visits to his family’s brownstone in Carroll Gardens.   Although he spent a great deal of his youth in Massachusetts, it was the elegant Brooklyn brownstone architecture that made a lasting impression on Scala.  

Scala spoke with the Brooklyn Eagle about his new Brooklyn-inspired project.

What is your connection to Brooklyn?

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I grew up in Massachusetts, but back in the ’70s my father had family in Carroll Gardens and we made frequent trips to Brooklyn.  I’ve been going to Brooklyn off and on for the past 30 years.  I became a builder in my twenties and I was a construction manager for nine years. I decided in 2002 to go out on my own and become a developer.  I was inspired by the row houses that were in Brooklyn…that look has always been in the back of my mind. To me, the Brooklyn brownstone is a gem.

What made you think Thornton Park would be a good location for Brooklyn-style Brownstones?

A parcel of land came up on the market and it hit me.  I thought it was the perfect spot to develop my concept of modernized brownstones that had its origins back in Carroll Gardens.  I’ve been back to Brooklyn probably a dozen times just in the past year or so.  Two years ago I went back to Carroll Gardens. My son was also living there at the time, but my purpose for that particular trip was to mainly take notes for my idea.  As soon as I got back to Orlando I thought, why not?  And so I took the leap.  In my view it was an unmistakable opportunity.

What was the land worth?

Let me put it this way, the dirt was very expensive.  One acre of land was $2 million and we paid $2.4 million for the parcel.

What are some project details?

It’s a 28-unit upscale residential development that will face three streets. Like in Brooklyn, the three-story units will have stone steps with entryway stoops, elegant wrought iron metalwork, rooftops that can be converted into terraces and rear-access alleyways and garages.  Elevators are optional and prices for the units will start at $500,000.

Why is Thornton Park the right place for the concept?

Thornton Park is a unique section of Orlando.  It’s right next to downtown, and there are a lot of young professionals continually locating there.  It’s walking distance to downtown. It’s becoming a vibrant urban living scene, with retail shops and good restaurants. Everything within a quarter-mile radius is new.  I put a lot of thought into the project.  I did think it would be a difficult concept to duplicate — I mean, it would require the right climate and location.  And it’s not that we are duplicating the literal brownstone as much as we’re modernizing it, and doing it at a very high standard.  
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Since speaking with Scala, the Brooklyn Eagle also spoke with Kelly Price and Olde Town Brokers, who are handling promotion and sales. They said that construction has been moving at a steady pace with 11 of the 28 units already sold, with an estimated completion date sometime in November of this year.  

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