Feeding into opponents' worries about development "creep," the developer proposing to build a major distribution and logistics center in Ocoee near the S.R. 429 Western Beltway had obtained permission to build zoning for at least one similar development in another town, only to come back almost immediately to ask for permission to build a development 35 percent bigger.
In Spring Hill, Tenn. last fall, Northpoint Development, a Kansas City-based real estate development, management and leasing firm principally focused on industrial, multi-family, and senior living markets, told Spring Hill officials that it needed to expand the footprint of a GM Parts plant from 189,840 square feet to 258,720 square feet shortly after getting permission to build the smaller facility, The Tennessean reported.
Brent Miles, vice president of economic development for NorthPoint Development's and its point person in Ocoee, made the request to Spring Hill, Tenn.'s planning commission.
Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer has said that he has heard NorthPoint has a history of buying large pieces of land and getting them permitted for small projects initially, then ramping them up later.
"Phase one is small, but then there is phase 2 and 3," he said.
Last week GrowthSpotter reported a major distribution and logistics center is proposed for Ocoee on 44.1 acres of land off Maguire Road in the Ocoee Business Park, near C.R. 429 Western Beltway. That project, too, is said to be a GM Parts plant.
According to letters sent to North Point's Brent Miles from City Planner Michael Rumer, NorthPoint is proposing two buildings that would be used for assembly and logistics for distribution to local areas as well as regional distribution over a five-to-seven-state area. The larger building of 384,000 square feet would create about 150 jobs, while a smaller building of 100,000 square feet would handle local distribution and create 40 positions.
Materials would come in by rail and then be dispensed by tractor-trailers. In February NorthPoint said it couldn't tell Ocoee at the time how many rail car containers would come into the site or how many trucks would go out.
However, the city suggested such an operation is likely to create more than 250 peak hour trips and that level of truck traffic would require improvements to local roads. The Franklin and Maguire intersection, Silver Star Road and Ocoee-Apopka Road would need complete reconstruction. The entrance on Maguire would need a signal and widening for left and right turn lanes at the site entrance. Also, Story Road to Silver Star would need widening, Ocoee Planner Michael Rumer wrote.
Rumer also explained to NorthPoint that Ocoee has an initiative to develop a joint plan for all three of the interchanges the cities share on the S.R. 429 corridor with Winter Garden. In particular, the two cities are interested in joint planning S.R. 438 (Plant Street in Winter Garden and Franklin in Ocoee) which connect their historic downtowns. Plans include a bike path from the downtown Winter Garden and its West Orange Trail connection to Ocoee's Starke lakefront.
NorthPoint has not returned GrowthSpotter's telephone calls.
Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer has major concerns that the logistics and distribution center would have an impact on the city's joint plans. Winter Garden envisions high-tech companies related to medical needs, some retail, potentially a hotel, and some incidental residential development at the nearby 429 interchange that he does not consider compatible with nearby heavy trucking and rail usage.
"But that is Ocoee's choice," Bollhoefer said.
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