Two non-profit environmental groups made up of local residents have sued the city of Orlando and affiliates of Foundry Commercial to try and stop development of the Princeton Oaks Industrial Park.
The environmental groups -- Speak Up Wekiva, Inc., which claims more than 2,200 members, and Save the Wekiva River and Headwaters, Inc. -- filed a complaint on Monday in Orange County's Ninth Circuit Court, naming the City of Orlando, Mayor Buddy Dyer, six city council members, and the two land owner affiliates of developer Foundry Commercial that are behind the project.
Located at 3401 W.D. Judge Dr. west of N. John Young Parkway, Foundry first submitted plans for city review in June 2015 to develop an estimated 120 acres into 1.03 million square feet of light industrial office/warehouse space, through two phases.
The council granted Future Land Use Map, re-zoning and development plan approvals for Princeton Oaks earlier this year despite objections from neighbors, who claim contamination from vehicles could enter the area's aquifer and ultimately pollute the Wekiva River.
The opponents claim the city has violated state law and a county ordinance meant to protect the Wekiva River, and allowed a case of spot zoning for the project within the Wekiva Study Area.
"This lawsuit is based on a substantial misunderstanding of the law and the facts," said Mayanne Downs, attorney for the city of Orlando. "The City Council carefully considered public input, the area's predominately industrial uses, the project's inclusion of environmental protections and the requirement the project comply with all state and local environmental regulations to make a fair and balanced decision that follows the letter of the law."
Officials with developer Foundry Commercial did not respond to requests for comment.
The first 60 acres for Phase 1 were acquired in early April, with plans for 510,000 square feet of speculative warehouse across five rear-load buildings, with 25- to 30-foot clear heights.
General contractor on the project Edwards Construction Servicestold GrowthSpotter on Thursday that mass grading earthwork is near 85 percent completion, and site utility work is at 30 percent.
Regarding the first two warehouse buildings totaling 229,200 square feet, the slab, foundation and tilt panels have been poured for Building 100, and foundation work for Building 200 is at 75 percent, with preparations underway for slab work in effort to be complete by the end of July, according to Matt Celinski, director of operations at Edwards.
Panel wall erection for both buildings will begin around Aug. 14, with an estimated duration of six business days. Overall, the project is approaching 50 percent completion, Celinski said.
An environmental resource permit was granted to the project in late April by the St. John's River Water Management District, and a plat was recorded in early June.
Renamed and marketed as the Princeton Oaks Midtown Business Park, the first two buildings could be complete by December at a projected investment of $25 million, Foundry's principal of development and investment Moses Salcido told GrowthSpotterin mid-April.
Members of one of the groups claim they are currently "suffering irreperable harm from the commencement of land clearing and dredge and fill" on the development site, including degraded water quality, increased residential flooding, daily degradation of Lake Lawne which flows to Little Wekiva River, loss of 60-plus acres of green space, loss of aesthetic enjoyment of their residential neighborhood, "sorrow and grief that a giant industrial warehouse complex" is now being built within their neighborhood.