Outlined in black is the S.R. 429 study area. Area in light yellow is Ocoee territory, and area in gray is unincorporated or Winter Garden.
Outlined in black is the S.R. 429 study area. Area in light yellow is Ocoee territory, and area in gray is unincorporated or Winter Garden. (City of Ocoee)

The City of Ocoee has extended its moratorium on accepting plans for development along the 429 Western Beltway, and Winter Garden plans to do the same this coming week.

The two cities, each with considerable real estate along the toll road, both established moratoriums last spring that lasted through July.

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Both cities seek to create a global vision for development and redevelopment along the highway. GAI Consultants, a planning firm that also provides engineering and environmental consulting, is creating proposed guidelines for development along the corridor, including design standards.

Ocoee could bond out $25M for downtown infrastructure, relocate City Hall

Insight on how the city's high bond rating gives it the opportunity to pursue a capital infusion that would kick-start work on its downtown redevelopment.

The moratoriums are necessary to give GAI's Pete Sechler, senior director of community solutions, more time to complete the work, said Michael Bollhoefer, Winter Garden's city manager.

"They have been super busy" because of the uptick in development across the region, said Bollhoefer. Winter Garden is set to vote on extending its moratorium for six months on Thursday.

Bollhoefer doesn't expect the moratorium to require that much more time, but he doesn't want to have to put it on the agenda again for another extension.

Ocoee extended its moratorium on Aug. 2 until Oct. 31.

S.R. 429 development moratorium now in place for Ocoee, Winter Garden

A handful of development projects between the two cities may be caught in limbo during the moratorium period.

"The city needed a bit more time to make the necessary changes in their code, and extending the moratorium gives them that additional time," said Angel de la Portilla, head of Central Florida Strategies, Inc., who Ocoee hired in mid-July on a six-month contract to serve as economic development advisor to the city.

However, Ocoee is working with developers to move moratorium-area plans through approval, if they incorporate the design tenets the city wants in its future code.

One example is Cite Partners' plan to develop a 650,000-square-foot light industrial park bordering the Western Beltway, which was approved by Ocoee's Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 9.

This past Monday, Ocoee city commissioners agreed with staff recommendations to prioritize improvements to N. Buford and Oakland avenues downtown, build an extension of the West Orange Trail from downtown into Winter Garden, and build a new city hall to free up the current 9-acre city hall property along N. Lakeshore Drive for redevelopment.

The funding would come from bonding out up to $25 million, without impacting the balance of next year's budget and millage rate. The commission will officially vote in September to approve those projects, after they approve the budget and Capital Improvement Plan.

Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955 or at Teresaburney4@gmail.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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