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Vertical mixed-use infill development sought for Thornton Park lot

A rendering of the potential three-story, mixed-use development planned for 811 E. Washington St. in downtown Orlando.
A rendering of the potential three-story, mixed-use development planned for 811 E. Washington St. in downtown Orlando. (provided)

A local retiree and new commercial property investor is exploring vertical, mixed-use infill development for one of the last vacant lots in downtown Orlando's Thornton Park district.

Located at 811 E. Washington St., the 0.14-acre parcel was formerly a single-family home lot, and lies in the heart of Thornton Park with historic design requirements by the city.

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David W. Parrish, a retired defense contractor for Northrop Grumman and 20-year career military officer, paid $400,000 for the site on Jan. 10 with wife Dianne Parish.

They're seeking three variances from the city of Orlando this month, including a reduced vehicle buffer area and shorter driveway, to accommodate conceptual plans for the narrow site.

A preliminary site plan proposes a three-story building with an accessible rooftop terrace area, served by elevator. The ground floor would offer 1,202 square feet of retail-office space with a partially covered patio facing the street. The second and third floors would be two full-floor apartments of roughly 2,481 square feet each.

The Parrishes own another mixed-use, three-story building across the street at 840 E. Washington, where the Parrishes will live temporarily until they develop the new site.

"Being at 840 E. Washington St. for the past year and a half prompted us to look across the street and the potential that lot could offer us," David Parrish told GrowthSpotter. "We're still planning what we'll do there, working with multiple lenders on the financing side. But we acquired it with the intent to do some type of new development. Whether it's only residential or a mix with commercial we're not sure yet."

The vacant land is zoned Activity Center, which allows for a wide range of mixed uses as long as they can accommodate required parking. Parrish's current proposal meets city parking needs, albeit with a tight fit.

Design of the building would be primarily stucco, in keeping with historic time period standards required by the city, with stucco bands for accent and parapet walls at the top with stucco banding, said Robert Dietz, principal with Altamonte Springs-based Veneto Builders, who is developer and general contractor on the project.

Balconies on the second- and third-floor apartments would have metal roofs and some form of wood-paneled ceiling "that will add to the beauty of it as seen from street level," Dietz said.

"We're anticipating this to be a dynamic, Grade-A addition to the neighborhood," he added. "It certainly will contribute more to the area than a vacant lot does now."

Along with city Zoning Board approval, Parrish said his goal is to acquire financing and permits to break ground on the project by April, with a prospective 10-month construction window to follow by Veneto Builders.

Estimated total project cost may range from $1.2 million to $1.8 million, said Parrish, depending on how the ground-floor space is purposed for residential or retail-commercial.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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