Beyond the Grove: The Dream of Hamlin

When he’s not at his desk at Shoreside Way, developer Scott Boyd drives around town, visualizing how the areas around him could be transformed into thriving new spaces. 

“When I’m not working, I’m generally thinking about work because it’s what I enjoy,” he said, adding with a smile, “much to the chagrin of my wife.”

For 30 years, Boyd and his company Boyd Development have helped shape the Winter Garden area. For the last decade, he and his partner Ken Kupp set their sights on creating a unique community called Hamlin — a multipurpose locale that combines the best of living, dining, shopping, and more. 

In the mid-2000s, Scott and the development team were hunting (“and we’re always hunting”) for mixed-use land to develop. They found 620 acres of land in Winter Garden formerly owned by AIG. During the middle of the blossoming partnership, the 2008 financial crisis struck, and the deal paused. Boyd and his team continued to pursue the property and later made the purchase — and have made an additional 20+ acquisitions since the original purchase, bringing the total land area to approximately 1,200 acres. 

“It’s exciting to be part of a team attempting to create a destination and shape a sense of place,” Boyd said. “And the planners at Orange County and our consultants have been great partners in helping us achieve that as this is way bigger than us. It’s laying the groundwork for an entire community.”

After a decade of work, the Hamlin area population has grown 70%, and some 500,000 people now live within a 20-minute drive time and the population is forecasted to grow another 30% over the next 5 years. Visitors and Florida locals alike can use direct access courtesy of SR 429, popping over to a CycleBar class or getting a bite at The Great Greek Mediterranean before watching the Walt Disney World fireworks over Lake Hancock. For the entire development team, their hope is that Hamlin’s growth will never compromise the welcoming feeling of community they strive to maintain. “We’re trying to establish a place and do the right thing to set the tone for the whole area.”

Tenants range from smaller locally owned businesses like Bosphorus, Abbott’s Frozen Custard and MÖGE TEE to regional operators such as Publix and Miller’s Ale House and national companies like Starbucks and Walmart. Boyd said one of the appeals of Hamlin comes in striking the right balance between the three — offering the community places they already love while giving them new and exciting experiences unique to the area. 

“We understand that local tenants may not have a lot of experience with operating systems or the marketing capacities that the national tenants have, but they provide character, local knowledge and connection to the community. This is their business; it’s personal,” he said.

Even with larger tenants like the Walmarts of the world, Boyd said they look for national and international chains that align with the area’s goals. This carried over into entertainment offerings, as well, with the intent to give area families experiences they couldn’t get elsewhere in Central Florida. 

“When we went looking for a theater, we were intrigued by Cinépolis,” he said. “They’re not a U.S.-based company, and only a few people knew their brand, but they’re a customer-oriented high touch company. And I think now that they’ve been here for a while, I’d say that a large majority of the community would say they’re glad they are here.”

It’s hard to drive through the visibly growing Hamlin Town Center area and think its centralized location and lush greenery would come with challenges, but Boyd opened up about what Hamlin — and his company — had to overcome. 

“Everyone kept asking, ‘tell us where Hamlin is again?’ ‘Does anyone even live out there?’ Early on, these were questions we had to answer time and again, but as we and the area grew, they became less and less of a hurdle.”

The latest hurdle was one felt by businesses around the globe: the 2020 pandemic and its lingering effects. 

“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but it was especially hard on our tenants. From our perspective, we had to balance everyone’s needs and expectations — whether you’re a lender, investor, partner, or tenant. They [tenants] have lease obligations and employees to support, and we wanted to extend grace to them but also support the fiduciary relationship to all of our constituents. It felt daunting at times.

“We’ve done our best to communicate well and provide leniency when we can to our tenants. We’ve grown to know each other over the years, and we consider our tenants our partners in Hamlin,” Scott said.

That passion for tenants embodies a more significant passion the whole team has for Winter Garden. For Boyd, his heart belongs to his family, Central Florida, and this area. 

“Everyone on our team is local. My wife [Jennifer] and I have lived in Central Florida for over 40 years. Two of our three grown children also live in the community including our son who has been growing in our business over the last eight years. I’m not young anymore, but I still enjoy coming to work every day and helping to figure things out in a way that brings great returns for everyone. I love doing what I can to encourage our team and making deals that we believe will bring value to this awesome community.” 

The love for his community goes beyond his workday. Boyd and his wife serve on several ministry boards. From serving as the NCF Orlando chair as well as sitting on the board for Lift Orlando to serving as chair at The First Academy for a dozen years, Boyd uses his “time, talents, and treasure” to look for ways to be a blessing in the community.

“What we do here provides me with an opportunity to be used and be part of things more important than just our work,” he said. “I’ve learned that if we all pitch in and contribute it makes things a bit easier for a number of families in our community.”

Looking forward, Boyd mentioned a few upcoming additions — and even gave the scoop on an incredibly exciting potential partnership. 

“We’ve got a certain Florida-based company that combines a food and beverage component with a 36-hole mini-golf experience,” Boyd explained. “And there may or may not be a certain golfing titan involved with the project.”

[The experience, after confirming with the Boyd team, is PopStroke. And the golf legend in question? Tiger Woods. His team designs the gorgeous (and challenging) PopStroke courses.]

During this interview, Boyd hinted at partnership after partnership, some of which were in the works and others that will be announced soon. The maps in the Boyd Development office are dotted with pins and logos and notes for current and prospective tenants — each dream feeling more extensive than the next. 

“I’m excited about the momentum we have,” Boyd said. “The best days are yet to come.”  

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