Mount Dora’s City Council gave final approval Tuesday to a plan to bring the first new apartments in over a decade on a former citrus grove behind the Walmart on U.S. Highway 441.
“We haven’t had an apartment complex, I’d dare say, in 15 years,” Planning Director Vince Sandersfeld told the planning board during the July meeting.
Atlantic Housing Partners has a purchase contract on the 15-acre site, which is bisected by Spring Harbor Boulevard. The plan by LPG Urban & Regional Planners calls for a mix of three-story apartment buildings on the northern half of the project, for a total of 100 units. The section south of Spring Harbor would have 54 one-story attached villa units. The PUD also would allow two-story carriage units, but none are shown on the conceptual plan.
Based in Winter Park, Atlantic Housing Partners is a leading developer of affordable and mixed-income rental communities, but planning consultant Greg Beliveau emphasized that Eudora Groves, initially described as “attainable housing,” would in fact be market-rate.
The apartments would feature a variety of floorplans ranging from one to three bedrooms, while the villas would have only two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. Eudora Groves would also have a dog park, walking trails and a clubhouse with catering kitchen and fitness center.
Sandersfeld said developers typically seek approval for a preliminary PUD before submitting a final PUD, but in this case the developer opted to skip the first step and file both concurrently. He said the developer’s team worked closely with staff to come up with a plan that allows a bit more flexibility than straight R-3 zoning would allow.
The PUD incorporates more green space, but the tradeoff would be a reduction in the required parking. The developer hired VHB to perform and transportation impact analysis that supports the lower parking ratio.
“We were more concerned with getting the open space than the visitor parking,” Sandersfeld said. He also noted that the conceptual design shows two large stormwater ponds that would amenitized with fountains. He said the staff noted that the fountains needed to be substantial – something between a bubbling bird feeder and the Bellagio.
The PUD also plans to extend the existing wall along the back of the Walmart property for the entire length of the cummunity, and it establishes a 25-foot landscape buffer between the villa section and the residential neighborhood to the south. The developer also volunteered to contribute $35,000 toward a public art fund, which could seed an installation in the community.
The City Council voted 5-2 in favor of the PUD. Councilwoman Chrissy Stile said she couldn’t support the project unless the developer paid to install a traffic signal at U.S. 441 and Eudora Road, but Sandersfeld said the city can’t require a light on a federal road. And Beliveau said the size of the project and traffic study doesn’t warrant a light at the intersection.
“I”m not saying we don’t have an impact, but we don’t impact the level of service — 154 units don’t trip a light,” he said.
With the zoning approval in place, the next step is site plan review, followed by a site development plan.
Eudora Groves is just southwest of the Epic Theaters, which were built in 2018. It’s about 1.5 miles from the Waterman Village retirement community, which is expanding across Donnelly Street with 240 age-restricted multi-family units. The Spring Harbor Apartments, immediately to the east, were built in 2000.