Orlando's planning division wants to incentivize residential redevelopment around the Parramore PS-8 community school now under construction downtown, and has new policy in the pipeline to encourage that transition for more than 11 acres north of the school that's now light industrial, or vacant land.
The new Parramore school campus occupies 14 acres south of W. Amelia Street, between N. Westmoreland Drive and N. Parremore Avenue and directly west of the future Creative Village.
Back in January 2015 the city adopted the Parramore Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan, meant to help guide redevelopment and infill of the area. More than two city blocks north and south of the school site have been designated on that plan for future residential, along with west of Westmoreland Drive.
Of 11.44 acres across 11 separately owned parcels directly north of the school site, today about half are undeveloped, and half occupied by single-story light industrial uses. All are designated Industrial on the city's Future Land Use Map.
That island of light industrial separates the school site from the single-family neighborhood of Arlington Heights.
To incentivize developers to change that, a new subarea policy introduced this month by city planners would give those land owners (or buyers) the flexibility to implement residential use. It would also incentivize the transition away from industrial, by providing application fee waivers and density bonuses for affordable housing.
The policy wouldn't restrict the rights of current property owners, just offer them the marketing potential of residential. And housing developers could build on the land without having to apply for a Growth Management Plan amendment or rezoning, said Paul S. Lewis, chief planning manager for the city.
"The goal is to reestablish residential in the neighborhood, in the last few years we've lost a lot to demolition and people leaving. So one area we really wanted to focus on first was around the new school," he told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "It's consistent with our Parramore plan, and we think it's consistent to now provide this flexibility."
The policy establishes an allowed base density of 21 units per acre, before bonuses. In order to encourage mixed-income and affordable housing, it would allow up to 26 units per acre, but only when an applicant makes affordable housing units part of the project.
The city would also waive application fees for the Conditional Use Permit ($1,500) and the optional rezoning to Planned Development ($4,000).
Redevelopment investment is increasingly being drawn to Parramore property directly west of the new school site.
On the southwest corner of Westmoreland and W. Colonial drives, a three-tenant retail building anchored by a Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru restaurant was announced in January by retail developer Timothy Cloe, who bought the hard corner parcel in February for $650,000. An affiliate of Demetree Real Estate Services bought the adjacent 2.85 acres in July 2015 for $1.59 million, currently occupied by an auto dealership.
Directly south at 1000 Arlington St., Arlington Art LLC paid $700,000 in July for the 0.98-acre parcel occupied by a 51-year-old auto repair warehouse. An art studio is being relocated there from Winter Park, and much of the space is being renovated for artist lofts.
South of that are two parcels along Westmoreland Drive totaling 0.94 acres owned by James W. Parham, occupied by his business Acme Cleaners. Commercial real estate brokers familiar with Parramore told GrowthSpotter he's been unwilling to sell over the past year.
To its south, at the corner of Givens Street and Westmoreland, are two single-story office parcels for which a sale is set to close on Thursday.
Totaling 0.49 acres and owned by members of the Pappas and Youngblood families, listing agent Greg Kainz of Commercial Equity Partners told GrowthSpotter the buyer "is eager to get in on that area and its growth, but say they're not sure yet what they'll do with it."
Those two properties carried more than $120,000 in code enforcement violations, but the buyer successfully negotiated that fine down with the city in exchange for improvements to the property, Kainz said. The property lies outside the new subarea policy, but is still targeted for residential redevelopment in the Parramore vision plan.
"This area of Parramore is really hot right now for redevelopment interest. We're creating transactions here lately that wouldn't have been done just a few years ago, because it's one of the few value areas downtown for the average investor," he said. "I think the coolest story is the relocation of that art studio. They're here by choice, and like the edgy location and idea of bringing some new culture to Parramore."
The new FLUM subarea policy is scheduled to go before Orlando's Municipal Planning Board on Oct. 18, after which meeting minutes go before City Council for approval in November.
It would then be included in a Growth Management Plan amendment ordinance that goes for its first Council reading, likely in December, followed by a second reading and adoption in January. An appeal period to follow would see this take effect in February 2017, based on that timeline.