City of Ocoee
Ocoee city records
Ocoee city records
Ocoee city records
Provided by NRP Group
When their original proposal to bring an urban-style mixed-use building to Ocoee was denied in late August — after neighboring homeowners pushed back on apartment units so close to their property —the development team went back to the drawing board and rolled out some changes.
Instead of rental apartments along the top two levels of a more than 51,000-square-foot building, they put high-end condos available to buy into the plan. They reduced the residential density from 49 units to 42 units and removed balconies. They added elevators and increased the ground-floor multi-tenant commercial space from 8,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet.
And for the sake of blending into the surrounding community across the street from a Publix shopping center, they changed the exterior color scheme so that it closely matches the hospital being built next door.
On Nov. 2, Orlando-based USA Management Realty & Development got approval from the Ocoee City Commission.
“We feel amazing,” said Rose Thomas, the company’s co-owner told GrowthSpotter. “It was a tough ride, but we definitely are grateful for the commission and the ones who took meetings and listened to us and encouraged us to keep going.”
Thomas expects construction of the building, designed by architecture firm Cuhachi Peterson, to begin by the first quarter of 2023 on land near the intersection of Lake Johio and Silver Star Roads.
It’s part of a master-planned development put together years ago by Mijax Properties and its founder Chip Bryan.
Within the PD, K. Hovnanian Homes has built out a 50-lot subdivision called Ocoee Landings and Dallas-based Everest Realty Group has started construction on a 39,817-square-foot rehabilitation hospital.
The parcel to the east of this future hospital, just south of the subdivision, was purchased by Thomas’ company in May for just shy of $1 million.
The city’s planning and zoning commission, on Aug. 30, voted to deny the mixed-use building project after a number of residents who live in the neighboring subdivision bemoaned the apartment component.
“Throwing an apartment complex here doesn’t fit the aesthetics or the area,” planning commissioner Jason Mellon said at the time. “There are no apartments here, not anywhere near this.”
Following the denial, Thomas, who runs the female-led development company with her partner, Mary Ramos, told GrowthSpotter: “We are not giving up.”
Tara Tedrow, an Orlando attorney and shareholder with the Lowndes law firm, represented the developers at the Nov. 2 city commission meeting.
“The way this project is going to look from the road, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it is a residential community,” she said. “These are not going to be apartment units. These are not for rent. They are for ownership. We’ve changed that program after hearing from the residents that they didn’t want this to be an apartment complex next to them.”
She said several businesses have already expressed interest in moving into the ground-floor retail space, including a spa, a specialty bakery, a UPS store, a veterans care facility and a federal credit union.
Tedrow said she wants retail tenants that will be patronized by the residents living upstairs.
“We want those neighborhood-serving smaller businesses,” Tedrow said. “We want to bring in those higher-end retailers and offices on that first floor, and we believe it is going to fill up very quickly.”
The bottom level will also include several amenities for upstairs residents, such as a fitness center, bike storage area, co-working space and an HOA office, Tedrow said at the meeting. Condo discounts will be offered to military personnel, police officers, and firefighters.
City Commissioner Larry Brinson said the developer has “been very accommodating, and then some.”
“When the developer told me there would be no balconies, I scratched my head,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen many (residential units) without balconies. But they did that to accommodate those residents behind them. I love the mixed-use. I don’t see anything problematic with this project.”
Commissioner George Oliver echoed those sentiments, saying the development team was “willing to bend over backward” for the city.
“They listened to the residents,” he said. “I think this will be a welcome addition to our community.”
Mayor Rusty Johnson cast the lone vote against the project, saying that he views condos no differently than apartment units. He also expressed concern over traffic.
With approval, this project is among only a few mixed-use projects in the pipeline for the city.
On 43 acres along the shore of Lake Bennett, David Townsend is under contract to build out the $150 million City Center West, which would include 600 luxury apartments and 200,000 square feet of commercial space in its first phase.
Several months ago, the city gave the green light to Wire Development‘s Ocoee Crown Point Village Center next Ocoee High School. Plans call for 2,500 square feet of commercial space and 175 multifamily units with access to community amenities such as a clubhouse and pool.
Meanwhile, The Ocoee Village Center is under construction on 75 acres of land east of State Road 429 at the intersection of Fullers Cross Road and North Lakewood Avenue, along both sides of Clarcona Ocoee Road.
The final product will consist of 320 apartment units being developed by NRP Group, 232 townhome units under development by Park Square Homes and 100,000 square feet of commercial space that Konover South will be handling.
The project’s master developer, Richard Wohlfarth of Wohlfarth Consulting Group, said the multifamily community, called The Allure at Ocoee Village, is expected to be completed sometime this year.
“It’s a pretty cool little project,” he said. “This is the northern entrance to the city of Ocoee; it’s an up-and-coming area. There’s a lot of housing that’s already been done in this area.”
The city is hoping to see more mixed-use projects in the future. City officials have for years wanted to extend Old Winter Garden Road so that it connects with State Road 50 to the north.
The goal is to ease traffic congestion along this busy corridor just east of the S.R. 429 and Florida’s Turnpike interchange, but city planning leaders also hope that the new four-lane stretch of roadway, once in place, will become the site of a town center with high-density urban development on both sides.
Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.