Assemblage owners near I-Drive pursue WMD permit for wetlands & mitigation

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

A property rights law firm applied for a key environmental permit on Monday to help pave the way for future mixed-use development of 269 acres on the southern end of International Drive.

Sarasota-based Moore Bowman & Rix, PA (MBR) has been working with 103 clients for the past decade to assemble more than 600 acres of one- to five-acre parcels, which lie southeast of the International Drive-Westwood Boulevard intersection. 

It is arguably the largest assemblage of undeveloped land off I-Drive that can offer hotel, resort, timeshare, residential, office and commercial development options. 

MBR helped the group form a business entity, Shingle Creek Co-Owners LLC, and filed applications with Orange County for a Conservation Area Impact Permit in January 2017, and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Dredge and Fill Permit in May 2017

Now the firm applied on Monday for a construction approval permit from the South Florida Water Management District, which focuses on proposed wetland impacts and a mitigation plan. 

"We're pursuing an Army Corps permit simultaneously, and expect to have these general concept permits some time in the fall," MBR attorney Bill Moore told GrowthSpotter.

"We don't have a specific plan yet that we're getting approval for, these are just areas that will be impacted and dilineation of the wetlands," he continued. "It has been a long haul (over the past 14 months), but we are diligently pursuing these generalized permits and are pleased to know it should be fairly close." 

Marcus & Millichap's Ray Turchi was hired last year to market the property, dubbed "International Crossings." Moore said his team is in negotiations with multiple developers for the land. 

A Planned Development filing with Orange County and supporting infrastructure plans would only come once a prospective buyer is under contract. The land is being marketed at $86.8 million, or $350,000 per developable acre, a figure arrived at via comparable sales throughout the state, including a 50-acre sale in December along the future Daryl Carter Parkway extension to Orange County Public Schools. 

GrowthSpotter first reported in July 2016 how the group completed a $1 million land swap with SFWMD that helped further its assemblage efforts for private development. 

The focus is now on preparing the infrastructure for 586 assembled acres, of which about 269 acres are considered developable and the other 317 acres planned for mitigation. 

A new conceptual development plan, meant for marketing and guidance on the latest permit applications, proposes 46 acres for commercial development on the property's frontage along a future Westwood Boulevard extension, followed by 66 acres for apartment/condo development in the center, 39 acres for multifamily, and 90 acres on the deep interior for single-family residential. 

About 12 acres within the 269-acre concept plan are reserved as existing wetland. Mitigation acreage will be deeded to SFWMD to meet the project's requirements, but also to further the District's environmental goals for its Shingle Creek restoration project. 

The property is just 1.5 miles from a future Interstate 4 interchange at Daryl Carter Parkway, and will remain mostly private due to being surrounded by SFWMD mitigation land.

Necessary for development is a future Westwood Boulevard extension, and possible Lake Bryan Beach Boulevard extension. MBR and its clients don't plan to front the cost of a Westwood extension, which would likely fall to the buyers. 

This land is part of the hundreds of acres of former Munger Land Company property subdivided in the early 20th century and sold to individual investors, often called "paper subdivisions." No roads, utility or sewage infrastructure were laid, and much of it in Orlando is in wetlands, making it a challenge to assemble and develop.

It's currently zoned Agricultural, and will require rezoning to Planned Development consistent with the Future Land Use Plan. But much of it is in areas designated Activity Center Mixed Use (ACMU) or Activity Center Residential (ACR) on the Future Land Use Map, categories that would allow high-density projects.

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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