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Latest rendition of Winter Park’s proposed OAO District concerns P&Z members at workshop meeting

The OAO District attempts to incentivize redeveloping a prominent stretch of Orange Avenue, crossing Orlando Avenue and West Fairbanks Avenue. This is not a proposed project, but a rendering of a possible development scenario.
The OAO District attempts to incentivize redeveloping a prominent stretch of Orange Avenue, crossing Orlando Avenue and West Fairbanks Avenue. This is not a proposed project, but a rendering of a possible development scenario. (City of Winter Park)

The ever-evolving Orange Avenue Overlay District proposal in Winter Park is entering the municipal approval process once again, only this time it’s slightly smaller and more restrictive on future growth.

At the workshop session Tuesday night, Winter Park’s planning and zoning board shared some concerns about the district’s most recently proposed comprehensive plan and some coinciding mock-up renderings of potential projects.

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Board members agreed the comp plan needed to be simplified, and that specifics outlining base height, density and Floor Area Ratio could be saved for the zoning code of the proposed OAO District.

In addition, the specific building standards outlined in the comp plan sparked discussions from board members who felt the current draft may make it tough for developers to feasibly build successful projects.

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Art illustrates what new development near the intersection of Orange and Orlando avenues may look like utilizing current development standards.
Art illustrates what new development near the intersection of Orange and Orlando avenues may look like utilizing current development standards. (City of Winter Park)

“I think it’s not financeable,” P&Z board member Alex Stringfellow said while reviewing conceptual development programs for the north and south gateways of the OAO District. “Anything below 1.5 FAR would be very difficult to do.”

The newly proposed ordinance caps the maximum achievable FAR to 1.25, given that said project meets a certain threshold of standards outlined in the proposed comp plan and zoning code, including providing an ample amount of meaningful open space and building workforce housing maintained for no less than 20 years.

Board members also raised concerns over the maximum achievable density for residential dwelling units. The proposed ordinance would cap density in certain subareas at 17 dwelling units per acre.

Subareas D and J, primarily owned by Demetree Global and members of the Holler family, are by far the most prime for mixed-use redevelopment and are generally located on the northern and southern ends of the district.

The previous, rescinded OAO District ordinance featured a max of 25 units per acre and gave more flexibility to add density by allowing property owners the right to transfer existing densities in other commonly-owned properties within the overlay district.

At the work session meeting, Winter Park’s planning director Bronce Stephenson said the density transfer option was not something the commission wanted to entertain — the same city commission that rescinded the original plan last March, three weeks after it was approved, but before the ordinance took effect.

Art illustrates what new development near the intersection of Orange and Orlando avenues may look like utilizing the overlay's proposed 1.25 FAR.
Art illustrates what new development near the intersection of Orange and Orlando avenues may look like utilizing the overlay's proposed 1.25 FAR. (City of Winter Park)

The move led Demetree Global to file a lawsuit asking an Orange County judge to declare the repeal of the ordinance void. The latest overlay district excludes some of its properties.

The current commission helped craft the latest ordinance, which also reduced size of the overlay district west of Orlando Avenue, near residential neighborhoods behind the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic.

The overlay district was first drafted up to incentivize redeveloping a prominent stretch of Orange Avenue that extends around high-traffic intersections crossing Orlando Avenue and West Fairbanks Avenue.

“Parking is one of the number one things we looked at from the very beginning of this process,” Stephenson, told board members at the workshop session.

A key component essential to redeveloping the Orange Avenue corridor is the city-owned Progress Point site, spanning 3.7 acres at 1150 N. Orange Ave. and the adjacent 1.88-acre parcel at 1100 N. Orange Ave., currently owned by Bank OZK.

Art illustrates what the densities and intensities that would have been achievable under the previous Orange Avenue Overlay, which was overturned by the Winter Park City Council in 2020.
Art illustrates what the densities and intensities that would have been achievable under the previous Orange Avenue Overlay, which was overturned by the Winter Park City Council in 2020. (City of Winter Park)

Highly embellished renderings shown to the board members presented different scenarios of what development projects may look like in the future, each featuring a public park component with some sort of parking solution, lush landscaping, wide pedestrian walkways and several art installations.

Planning and urban design firm LandDesign created the visuals.

According to an article by the Orlando Sentinel, the city has spent more than double what it cost to create the original version for engineering, design and planning consultants plus legal expenses to fight the lawsuit.

A second work session discussing the comp plan is scheduled for next Monday.

Once P&Z board members make their recommendations, the comp plan will go before the Winter Park City Commission and then be sent to Tallahassee after the first city commission hearing.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 491-3357, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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