The Minneola Planning & Zoning Board on Feb. 6 unanimously approved a site plan for a 324-unit apartment complex in the Hills of Minneola master-planned community, despite some concerns that a traffic analysis may have underestimated its impact.
Vista Hills Apartments are planned on 16.61 acres on the east side of Hancock Road, north of Fosgate Road. It is the second multifamily community by Skorman Development in the Hills of Minneola Planned Unit Development, a massive project that includes Skorman’s award-winning Minneola Hills apartments, a future AdventHealth hospital, medical offices, retail, and an industrial park.
Hills of Minneola includes nearly 3,200 residential lots. Sun Terra Communities sold about 300 acres of undeveloped non-residential property to Skorman Development in 2021 for $29 million. It includes entitlements for the hospital campus, commercial uses and a research/industrial park.
City Planner Timothy McClendon said the Vista Hills apartment complex would include one-, two- and three-bedroom units in 12 three-story buildings. The site plan creates four quads, each with four apartment buildings facing a central courtyard.
The future land use designation for the property is Mixed Use and is zoned for a Planned Unit Development, a multi-family site, McClendon said. “It meets setbacks and height limitations and open space, as well.”
Ken Linehan with FK Architecture in Winter Park took the design lead along with Bonnett Design Group, the landscape architect, and civil engineer KPM Franklin.
“Vista Hills will be architecturally distinct from Minneola Hills and will have its own supportive high-end clubhouse, resort-style pool and amenities for those residents,” said Kevin Skorman, with Skorman Development Group.
Attorney Tara Tedrow with Lowndes represented Skorman during the public hearing, saying she would ensure that traffic concerns expressed by the Planning & Zoning Board are addressed before the plan goes to the city council.
She also said that the traffic generated by the apartment complex would fall, for the most part, outside of the peak traffic hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, other components of the Hills of Minneola are starting to come together. Last week Winter Garden-based Crooked Can Brewing Company unveiled plans to build a 40,000-square-foot production brewery, taproom, and food hall within the retail center north of Hancock Road.
Michael Berkowitz, of Berkowitz Development Group, is the development partner on the retail component. Gavin Walsh with The Shopping Center Group is the broker for the retail component.
The retail and commercial component of the PUD includes 96 contiguous acres with a variety of restaurant, retail, commercial, hotel and medical office users, Skorman said. “We are designing the site to include a grocery store component, with a diverse array of neighborhood serving commercial uses as well. The site will be interconnected with pedestrian pathways and functional open spaces that are inviting to the community to spend time between dining, shopping, or working.”
He said his group took inspiration from the “charm, walkability and vibrancy of downtown Winter Garden”, but will have more retail options and an interconnected medical campus. “This development will be a focal point of the city by bringing opportunities for daytime jobs and a thriving weekend and evening gathering space for the community,” Skorman said.
Jecoah Byrnes with National Healthcare Realty Development is leading the medical office development.
The future phases also include entitlements for 1.4 million square feet of industrial space. Skorman said they have designed an industrial park with 1.36 million square feet across seven buildings, ranging in size from 162,500 square feet to 273,000 square feet.
“This plan, of course, can be modified to suit an end user,” he added. “This site is a perfect example of why developers need to choose the best engineers. Before we acquired the property, we were incorrectly told that there would be significant topographical challenges with major site work costs. Joe Kolb with VHB Engineering proved that wrong. He has laid out a design that wasn’t impeded by any site topography, did not require import fill and would not amass those previously claimed significant site work costs. The site has great direct access to and visibility from the turnpike and is in an area with a high demand for new industrial/warehouse product.”
GrowthSpotter editor Laura Kinsler contributed to this report.
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