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Winter Park rejects developer bids for 'Blake Yard' infill site, remarkets for sale

Winter Park rejects developer bids for 'Blake Yard' infill site, remarkets for sale
Highlighted in green is the 0.45-acre "Blake Yard" property on Comstock Avenue in Winter Park, a few blocks from Park Avenue, to be re-marketed for sale by the city. (CBRE)

Winter Park city commissioners voted Monday to remarket a 0.45-acre infill site near its downtown for sale and reject previous bids from two local developers, after a lack of detail in the original sale notice caused confusion over which bids were acceptable.

Formerly known as the Blake Yard site, the small parcel at 301 W. Comstock Ave. lies one-and-a-half blocks from Park Avenue. The city published a Notice of Disposal (NOD) in February, seeking purchase bids for the property.

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The city's real estate broker CBRE will begin marketing efforts for the property immediately, and will only accept offers at the appraised value of $450,000 or greater. The city will also have more detail in its NOD announcements going forward.

The property used to house electric utilities equipment until new David Weekley townhomes started being built around it, prompting the city to relocate its storage yard. Townhomes and single-family homes built around the property have sold for $599,000 or more in recent years.

To recap, bids were made in March from Winter Park Redevelopment Agency, Ltd., an affiliate of Sydgan Corporation developer Dan Bellows, and by local general contractor Rowland & Company featuring architecture by Phil Kean Design Group.

Rowland told GrowthSpotter late Monday he would take time to process the city's vote, and decide in the coming days what his next move will be, if any.

Bellows said Tuesday morning he is reviewing his options, and confirming with counsel what his position will be going forward.

Both proposed plans with four townhome units. Bellows original bid of $425,000 was $55,000 higher than Rowland's, but didn't meet the property's August 2016 appraised value of $450,000, which the two bidders weren't made aware of in the original NOD.

Commissioners asked on April 10 for a second round of bids that met the appraisal minimum. Rowland bid $455,000 and Bellows bid $450,000, though Bellows asked to automatically increase his bid to $1,000 more than the highest bidder.

While that's not commonly accepted in NOD bid responses, Winter Park's NOD didn't prohibit it, so Bellows' bid was acknowledged as $456,000.

In the weeks that followed, Rowland and his attorney challenged the city on accepting Bellows' unorthodox "+$1,000" bid tactic, and Bellows' attorney claimed the city had "moved the goal posts" on him after having the high bid twice.

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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