Sanford city leaders want to see a new mixed-use parking structure with residential and retail components rise on downtown city-owned land.
And nearly a month after formally opening up the door for the private sector to submit proposals for the Monroe Hall property near the shore of Lake Monroe, it’s clear that the offer has caught the eye of the development community.
“We are answering a lot of questions on that (request) so there appears to be a lot of interest in it,” Assistant city manager Craig Radzak told GrowthSpotter. “So we will wait for another month here, less than a month, and when (the bid process) closes we will put together a selection committee to see what kind of proposals we have.”
The city issued a request for qualifications on Jan. 18 outlining what they envision for the corner property located at 400 E. First Street. The bid closes on March 9 at 2 p.m.
According to the RFQ document, the city wants to see a four-level structure comprising roughly 225,000 square feet that includes a mix of residential and retail, with a structured parking facility containing roughly 425 spaces.
The city is open to suggestions though.
“We really want the development community to tell us what would work best on this property,” Radzak said. “We want a public/private partnership to help us build this garage.”
The project is intended to provide public parking for downtown visitors, as well as parking associated with the on-site retail and residential elements, the request says.
The city asks that the new parking structure be made of concrete and is able to handle wind speeds up to 139 miles per hour. But they also expect an attractive exterior with balconies for the residential units.
If a development company needs more room for the project, it has the option of relocating Monroe Hall to adjacent land to the east, next to the Sanford museum.
Monroe Hall was built in 1943 as a United Service Organizations (USO) due to the presence of U.S. Naval personnel at the Sanford Naval Air Station.
The building was shared by the USO and the Chamber of Commerce until the Navy left Sanford in 1969. The building was occupied by the Chamber of Commerce until 2019 when the Chamber moved. The building is now used for community events and was renamed Monroe Hall in recognition of Camp Monroe, established in 1836 near this site by the U.S. Army.
The building consists of an office area, a conference room, and a large open meeting area.
If Monroe Hall is moved, the developer chosen for the project must add parking to its new location, according to city documents.
Developers looking to take on the project must have at least five consecutive years of experience and must be licensed to perform services in the state of Florida. The developer must also have experience with similar projects.
“This project is being planned to accommodate the growth of downtown Sanford, and parking challenges being experienced in the area,” the document reads.
The city continues to lose surface parking downtown due to new development.
Recently, Orlando-based developer Lakeview Oak submitted plans to the city for two mixed-use buildings that would include a total of 9,400 square feet of commercial, retail, and restaurant space on the bottom floor and a total of 28 dwelling units on the upper three levels.
The property sits at the southwest intersection of Palmetto and 2nd Streets, directly behind Sanford’s historic Ritz Theatre. The city has since 2017 leased the land to use as a parking lot. That lease expires in late September.
Another large city-owned lot near Lake Monroe is expected to one day be absorbed by the long-planned Heritage Park project, which is slated to include shops, offices, and housing.
“Parking lots are not the highest and best use for a piece of land, so we are always in favor of developers coming in and developing a piece of property,” Radzak told GrowthSpotter in August as the city explored the need for a parking structure. “But then there’s the catch-22 where we lose parking.”
He noted at the time that a parking structure would be expensive for the city to build on its own.
“It depends on how many stories you’re looking to build, but you could be talking anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 per space,” Radzak said. “It’s very expensive so we’d have to figure out how we are going to fund it.”
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.