X Orlando developer eliminates green wall, reduces height to appease neighbor

The largest multi-family project ever planned for downtown Orlando will lose its most distinctive feature, the controversial "living wall," as part of a settlement between the developer and the owner of a the 6-story Central Station apartments next door.

Manhatten-based Property Markets Group had won approval from the city's Appearance Review Board and Municipal Planning Board for the phased tri-tower project, dubbed X Orlando, 434 N. Orange Ave. 

UBS Realty Investors, which owns Central Station, dropped its appeal of the city approvals as part of the stipulated, three-way settlement with PMG and the city. 

ARB Coordinator Douglas Metzger briefed the board Thursday afternoon on the settlement, which is still being negotiated and will go straight to the City Council for approval. He said PMG also agreed to lower the height of the third tower, which abuts Central Station, from 310 feet to 297 feet. The developer would shift three floors of residential apartments from tower 3 to the middle tower, which is now approved for a height of 368 feet. 

Metzger said city staff is still negotiating some finishes, including the amount of corrugated metal siding, that would be allowed in the final design. 

The X Orlando project, which also includes 120,000 square feet of retail-commercial -- including 35,000 square feet of co-working space -- has been one of the most debated buildings in recent years. All of the ARB members, and members of the public, voiced concerns about the viability of the living wall given the height and exposure of the building.

And while some members detested the use of corrugated metal siding, others thought it could bring a fresh, modern look to the central business district and a nice contrast to the Bank of America tower. 

The company's downtown project, dubbed "X Orlando," would be the third in Florida for its new PMGX Living line of "social living community" developments, following the 31-story "X Miami" project and 41-story "X Las Olas" now under construction in South Florida. The first X-branded community opened in Chicago in 2016, and a second is in development there and in Denver.   

Editors note: This article has been updated with information from the draft settlement between the parties.

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