A proposed 9.8-acre mixed-use development that would bring downtown living to Groveland is set to go to the City Council for approval Monday after receiving the endorsement of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Developers of PZ Square, located on West Broad Street and bordering the City of Mascotte and State Road 50 in Groveland, are seeking to rezone the area from “town center” to the denser “town core.” The rezoning would change the maximum building height to go from the original three-story proposal up to six.
The new structure will include a parking garage, two Class A office spaces, one “sit-down” restaurant, a more casual, but not fast-food, restaurant, and apartments on the top floors. The submitted site plan and elevations by Monta Consulting show a walkable development with eight buildings: three office buildings, two restaurants and three mixed-use residential buildings with ground-level retail and structured parking. Two of the apartment buildings would have an elevated pedestrian bridge connector.
“We’re really making an effort for all of these buildings to have foresighted architecture,” Bret Jones, a Clermont attorney representing owner IZ LLC told the commission. “Even the parking structure is not going to look like your standard concrete parking structure.”
Current land use is listed as “residential vacant” and had once been a glass shop owned by the Zafarali family, of Orlando, which has owned the property for 35 years. But the conditional approval by Planning and Zoning may be irrelevant as the City Commission can approve it irrespective of what Planning and Zoning recommends. City staff has recommended the rezoning.
The condition for a zoning change to “town core” set by the city’s Planning and Zoning commission was that the developers come back to the committee with a site plan. But Jones said in an interview that the condition is “a legal impossibility” because the matter is a zoning issue, not an architectural issue.
“It’s not even possible,” Jones said. “They want to act as an architectural review committee or an HOA (Home-Owners Association.) But we will voluntarily go to each and every member of the (Planning and Zoning) commission and present our plans.”
Jones, who said Astoria 44 of Orlando will be a co-developer with IZ LLC, described the project as “an urban downtown mixed-use center where you can live, work and play.”
Jones said the zoning change is appropriate based on Groveland’s “form-based code” which requires developers to follow a “new urbanism” design, featuring walkable streets, housing, shopping places and workplaces within walking or biking distance, reducing the need for car travel.
During a public hearing on the project, a few area residents expressed concerns about traffic increases, but Jones discounted those concerns and he further pointed out that those who testified on the traffic issue were not from Groveland but surrounding communities.
“The project is right off Highway 50,” he said. “There is no road that is more intense than Highway 50, but traffic engineers calculate that this road can handle a significant number of cars and still have a service level of ‘A’.”
Jones added that the parking garage will be enveloped by commercial and retail space to disguise its function as a garage. He said one of the buildings will have a rooftop terrace, and nearby wetlands will include a trail linking to the West Orange Trail, located a distance away from Highway 50 for safety purposes.
Construction is to begin in early summer 2022.