Longwood, a Central Florida city that has largely missed the area’s building boom, is planning to offer developers steep concessions in effort to kickstart growth.
The city, after bringing in a national economic consulting firm, has identified 14 areas it feels are primed for development, and nothing has been spared. Even City Hall has been tagged as a location that would make for a prime mixed use development.
The incentives include waiving planning application fees that can run into thousands of dollars. The city also wants to offer a 20 percent reduction in building permit fees, that for a large project could be $40,000 or $50,000.
There would also be a 20 percent waiver of water and waste water fees, which could save a developer thousands of dollars.
The city would also provide expedited permitting.
For example, the 208-unit Weston Park apartment complex, which is made up of two buildings and a parking garage, is valued at $14 million in construction costs. The building permit fees alone would have been approximately $351,000.
But under the pending Longwood fee reduction program, the building permit’s cost would have been reduced to $280,000, or by $70,200.
To make the opportunity even more appealing, all of the incentives “are open for negotiation,” Sheryl Bower, Longwood’s community development director, told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday.
The city’s commissioners are set to vote on approving the proposal May 16.
Longwood is going to such lengths because it has a lot of catching up to do, given all of the building that has gone on in the municipalities around it. The city was fashioned as a bedroom community and had never really broken out of that mindset.
“We have been sleepy for a long time while other cities around us have been maximizing their potential, now it is time for Longwood,” Bower said.
There is open land in the city, as well as areas ripe for redevelopment.
“There is a real opportunity that we really haven’t maximized,” Bower said.
Longwood is six square miles in size and has a population of around 14,000, which has been static since at least 1990.
It’s biggest commercial tenants are South Seminole Hospital and a UPS distribution facility, and after that there is little else in terms of large development. The city does have a SunRail station and hopes that clusters of development can occur around it.
The 14 areas the city has identified as ripe for development include a 16-acre former AutoNation site on U.S. 17-92 and Florida Avenue, and a former Albertson’s on 10 acres on the corner of U.S. 17-92 and S.R. 434. The targeted areas also include places that were once vibrant but have fallen into deterioration, such as the 8.5-acre Township Plaza on S.R. 343 and Rangeline Road.
The city would even move its City Hall on W. Warren Avenue to allow new opportunities for development within the historic district.
“We feel strongly that Longwood be given every opportunity to grow and be the best it can,” Bower said.
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