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A plan to develop about half of San Pedro Center -- arguably one of the most pristine properties in the county -- is before Seminole County planners.
Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel
A plan to develop about half of San Pedro Center — arguably one of the most pristine properties in the county — is before Seminole County planners.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, piece of vacant land in Seminole County is again being proposed for development, this time as a somewhat scaled back version of a plan that county commissioners vetoed in 2014.

Reserve at San Pedro Center, set in a rural area near Winter Park, is being proposed as a roughly $300 million project that would include single family homes, town homes, an assisted living facility and 50,000-square-feet for retail and other commercial use on its 269 acres.

The proposed project’s developer is Richard Jerman, head of SunTerra Communities, backed by New York private equity firm JEN Partners, which bought the land in south Seminole County in March for $26.7 million from the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

The Diocese held on to 200 contiguous acres and continues to run it as a spiritual center. The Diocese has had that land since the 1950s.

In addition to needing a nod for new development from county commissioners in the form of a major land amendment, any residential construction would require the removal of an edict that residents be 55 and older.

The requirement was established when the Catholic Diocese of Orlando was thinking about developing part of the property for senior housing.

The last time the land was being considered for development was in 2014. The church proposed 900 residential units — including homes and apartments — a 450-bed assisted living facility, as much as 225,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and a 110-room hotel.

That plan was shot down after an outcry from residents, who said it would ruin the area’s rural character and overload its roads. The property is woods and pastureland, based just north of Howell Branch Road and west of Dike Road.

The new proposal looks like it can expect at least some similar opposition. Despite being of a lesser scale than the originally approved plan, “You are still going to see traffic impacts,” said Connie Wightman, who lives on the west side of the property and attended Seminole’s DRC meeting on Wednesday. “The concern for some of us is losing the character of the community.”

The 2014 proposal was based on a development plan Seminole commissioners gave initial approval to in 2010.

The church also, in 2004, submitted a proposal for a land-use change that would allow up to 1,750 homes and 100,000 square feet of “church affiliated” retail and office space. But the diocese pulled the proposal a few months later.

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