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Orlando planning board gives nod to first downtown co-living apartment tower

The mixed-use tower would focus on the corner of South Street and Rosalind Avenue, with a covered outdoor dining area. Above it on the sixth floor is an open air wellness deck.
The mixed-use tower would focus on the corner of South Street and Rosalind Avenue, with a covered outdoor dining area. Above it on the sixth floor is an open air wellness deck. (Flux Architects)

Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board unanimously approved the master plan for The Signature, a proposed 19-story mixed-use tower that will offer the city’s first large-scale co-living concept.

The approved plan allows for 182 dwelling units, 14,138 square feet of office and commercial space, and a 242-space parking garage. Coral Gables-based Sono Development Group and operating partner, Common, will provide a mix of fully furnished two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments that will be leased by the bedroom for about $1,000 a month.

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SDG CEO Nicholas Plaz told GrowthSpotter that monthly rent would include utilities, WiFi, in-unit laundry and weekly cleaning service of all common areas. Plaz said the residents can schedule cleaning service for their private living space for another $25.

Orlando's Municipal Planning Board approved the master plan for The Signature mixed-use tower. Now the project heads to City Council and Appearance Review Board for final approval.
Orlando's Municipal Planning Board approved the master plan for The Signature mixed-use tower. Now the project heads to City Council and Appearance Review Board for final approval. (Flux Architects)

The sixth floor, would feature two open-air terraces: one designated as a dog park and the other is defined as a wellness terrace that can be used for outdoor yoga and exercise. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the proposed coworking spaces and building amenities, including the 5,600-square-foot social hall that opens up to the outdoor pool deck.

The project evolved over the last several months as Sono opted to reduce the number of apartments from 236 to 182. Initially, the developer was going to seek a density bonus and parking reduction in exchange for making 20% of the units affordable workforce housing. They ultimately decided not to seek any bonuses.

The new plans for the Monarch tower call for a full-service hotel and 380 apartments with concierge service.

Several speakers, many of whom own condos next door at The Grande, opposed the project because of the proximity to their building and the height. They noted that the 19-story tower would be twice as tall as the neighboring Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, but few seemed to be aware that another 30-story tower — Monarch Tower — has already been approved across from the project at the intersection of South Street and E. Jackson Street.

Kimley-Horn’s Tyler Suddeth noted that the developer incorporated an 18-foot setback from property line, where only a 3-foot setback is required by code. He also noted that the Signature is a C-shaped tower, so it would allow for more sunlight between the two buildings.

MPB member Jonathan Huels said the board had very little discretion on whether to vote for the project because everything the developer asked for was permitted by its Activity Center zoning.

“It’s an appropriate use of this property,” Huels said. “It’s the density I think we want to see in the urban core. I would be disappointed if it was something smaller and not as good a use of the property as this is being proposed.”

The city’s Appearance Review Board provided mostly positive comments during the courtesy review in December. They complimented the initial conceptual renderings, especially the geometric shapes used to create dimension along the facade.

“Some of the massing, the sort of brown regions around the building, they feel a little random, but I actually don’t mind them. And I’m pretty pleased with this project,” ARB member Clarisse Gates said.

The parking podium would be screened with perforated metal panels, which would serve as a canvas for giant murals. One of the MPB conditions for approval is that the developer get approval from ARB for the design of the murals and that they use an established artist to complete the work.

“It’s incumbent on ARB to make sure the treatment of that parking garage is top notch, because people are going to have to look at it,” MBP member Blake Drury said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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