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Mariposa Grove senior living project in Orlando’s downtown moves forward

The developer is keeping three mature oak trees on Jackson Street. At the city staff's request, they expanded the landscape areas around the trees to protect their root systems.
The developer is keeping three mature oak trees on Jackson Street. At the city staff's request, they expanded the landscape areas around the trees to protect their root systems. (Fugelberg Koch)

Mariposa Grove, a proposed mixed-income senior living development that has ignited a heap of opposition from neighboring residents, just won necessary approvals from Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board to move forward.

Its developer, Banyan Development Group, was seeking several allowances to build a 13-story tower on a 0.7-acre site between the 18-story Star Tower condominium building and the assisted living Windsor Place At Orlando Lutheran tower between Mariposa Street and E. Jackson Street.

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Attorney Darren Elkind from DeLand-based law firm Paul, Elkind & Branz, represents a number of residents who claim a portion of the development site is required to stay open space.

Elkind argued Tuesday the developer would be in violation of city ordinances regarding density and separate city commitments should they decide to move forward.

The project would be the first of its kind in downtown’s urban core reserving more than 75 percent of its 138 units for low-income and very low-income households.

Other nearby residents expressed their concern for what the new tower could do to their property values, as it risks to block what they expected to be unobstructed views of the city’s skyline.

“These are not just people complaining for sake of complaining,” Elkind said. “Imagine the impact of property value when the owner is no longer looking at that, instead they’re looking at another building.”

Currently, part of the development site is within the Orlando Lutheran Towers Planned Development area. BDG is seeking to incorporate the property in question into its Mariposa Grove PD.

City staff presented the board with the most recently applied density calculation for the Orlando Lutheran Towers PD, which incorporates a dedicated right-of-way that brings the developer’s request in compliance with the latest City Council ordinance amendment for the property, approved in 2014.

As the property currently stands, there is about 2,491 square feet of open space. BDG said it is proposing to provide 4,412 square feet of open space and 25-foot set backs.

If completed, Mariposa Grove would be the first of its kind in downtown Orlando’s urban core to reserve more than 75 percent of its 138 units for low-income and very low-income households.

Six MPB members voted to approve the developer’s request under certain conditions, including preserving three trees on the property along Jackson Street. Board member Picton Warlow was the single vote in opposition.

Within the past 12 months, only three affordable housing projects have been approved in Orlando.

That includes another BDG project called Fern Grove by the Packing District, Hannibal Square’s affordable townhouse project along Orange Center Boulevard and Blue Sky Communitiesaffordable multifamily housing project on Mercy Drive.

Mariposa Grove will reserve more than 75 percent of its 138 units for low-income and very low-income households. The project falls in line with Orange County’s Housing For All plan adopted by Mayor Jerry Demings, which looks to add 11,000 new affordable housing units to Orange County within the next 10 years.

The MPB meeting minutes go before City Council next month. Opposing residents have until July 28 to file a quasi-judicial appeal. Elkind did not immediately respond to questions about what his clients plan to do next.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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