The Leesburg City Commission on Aug. 8 granted final approval for a Planned Unit Development amendment to allow the developer of Margarivatille to build for a mixed-use community on land that was slated for over 1.1 million square feet of commercial uses.
Encore Capital Management is under contract to buy the 215 acres known as the Lyden-Nicholson property, which straddles both sides of U.S. Highway 27 just east of Florida’s Turnpike. Encore plans to develop it with 292 single-family detached lots, 138 townhomes, 288 multifamily units and 164,000 square feet of commercial property.
In recommending approval of the amended PUD, the city Planning and Zoning staff and the Planning Commission stated that the development will provide “a substantial positive fiscal impact on the City of Leesburg, in the form of impact and utility fees, plus ad valorem taxes.”
Tara Tedrow, of Lowndes, presented the requested amendment to the city commission on Encore’s behalf, and RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture created the conceptual master plan that plots out the community that is bisected by Bridges Road. The apartments would be constructed on the portion of the site east of U.S. 27. The commercial centers would be located just south of Dewey Robbins Road and at the intersection of Bridges and U.S. 27. Commercial use on the property can include, for example, banks, restaurants, retail shops, liquor stores, medical offices, dance studios and community centers.
The main access to the property is from U.S. Highway 27 and will be a landscaped boulevard. The developer will be required to make transportation improvements based on a current traffic analysis and contingent upon site plan approval by the city staff.
The single-family homes, townhomes and multi-family units are allowed a maximum density of eight dwelling units per acre, though the amended PUD puts the density at less than half of that. The property is currently being used for agriculture and will remain so until each phase is developed.
This land was initially approved for a commercial PUD in 2017 but was over-entitled on the commercial side, said Neel Shivcharran, director of land management, Southeast for Encore Capital Management. Encore is the master developer. The total number of residential units drops slightly from 764 to 718, but the biggest change is for the non-residential entitlements. The previous PUD allowed up to 1.1 million square feet of commercial, institutional and government uses. The amended PUD allows 164,000 square feet of commercial.
“The entitlements were too heavily weighted for commercial,” Shivcharran said. Developers were not interested, because the rooftops did not exist in Leesburg to support it. “It will get there, but not at this time,” he said.
He said Encore sees this as a gateway project to the City of Leesburg. “From the Turnpike, you’ll be able to see a cool mixed-use development.”
Tedrow told commissioners Encore is already in talks with a “Florida-based” grocery store chain and several restaurants, something city staff encouraged.
There are three parcels with 19.5 acres of stormwater management, Tedrow said. “The wetlands on site will not be impacted.” The new PUD will have just 3.34 units per gross acre, as opposed to the 8 units allowed under the zoning designation. As each segment of the community is constructed, each will get its own set of amenities, she said. There are also 13.6 acres designated for active recreation and 60 acres more of open space.
The Encore project is on a stretch of U.S. 27 near the Turnpike that is rapidly transforming from a rural enclave to a suburban destination. NVR/Ryan Homes is under contract to buy the 717-acre Bar Key property immediately to the east and has plans to build a multi-phased mixed-use community with over 1.700 homes and 137,000 square feet of commercial and a possible charter school.
Just north of Dewey Robbins Road, Leesburg has annexed and approved two major developments. Hodges Preserve by Hanover Land Co. will add 449 homes to the area. And Marsan Real Estate won approval earlier this year for Whispering Hills, a mixed-use development just off U.S. 27 that will have a maximum of 2,942 residential units — 2,302 single-family homes/townhomes and 640 multifamily units — along with a maximum of 451,000 square feet of commercial, hotel, medical and office uses.
And nearby, Tampa-based Eisenhower Property Group (EPG) is developing the 735-acre Little Everglades Farm along S.R. 19 in Groveland, and Green Slate Land & Development filed plans for Groveland Square, a new 177-acre mixed-use community at the apex of U.S. 27 and S.R. 19 near the entrance to Florida’s Turnpike. Groveland Square would include 97,500 square feet of commercial and 948 residential units.
GrowthSpotter editor Laura Kinsler contributed to this report.