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AV Homes wants to revise its master plan for Bellalago to convert a 10-acre tract in the northwest corner of the project for a separate townhouse community.
AV Homes wants to revise its master plan for Bellalago to convert a 10-acre tract in the northwest corner of the project for a separate townhouse community. (Rj Whidden & Associates)

Developer AV Homes is planning to build 102 townhomes within walking distance of the new Valencia College Poinciana Campus, but the plan would require converting approved residential lots in its luxury, gated Bellalago neighborhood for multifamily use.

The 10-acre site is just south of the college campus on land that was already approved for 27 residential lots in the master-planned community. Bellalago is a boating community with an internal canal system and boat lift access to Lake Tohopekaliga that is approved for more than 2,000 residential units.

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The townhouse project would change the balance between the single-family and multifamily units, and the requested PD amendment would more than double the number of approved multifamily units in the community.

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Planning consultant John Adams with Rj Whidden told Osceola County's Development Review Committee the developer had already presented the townhouse plan to Bellalago's design committee.

"They seem to be OK with it," Adams said on Wednesday. "Their concern is that even though the units would be sold to individuals, they could be rented to college students. They want it to be self-contained and have its own amenities."

He said the developer would likely build a masonry wall to separate Bellalago from the townhouse project, which would be accessed from Reeves Road. The plan would include a gated pedestrian and bike path to give Bellalago residents access to the college campus and surrounding county-owned property. The townhome residents also would have pedestrian and bike access to the retail center on Pleasant Hill Road at the community's north gate.

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But even with the separation, Adams said there may be some opposition from Bellalago residents. "I can't guarantee that folks won't show up during the public hearing," he said.

The PD amendment must clear the county's Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners in July before AV Homes could file a Site Development Plan. The population increase could trigger a need to renegotiate the developer's agreement with Osceola County schools, as well.

Valencia opens its $27 million Poinciana campus in the fall. The community college will serve 2,500 degree-seeking students, as well an additional 1,000 students seeking job training. It has no student housing component.

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Osceola County had been in negotiations with Indiana-based developer Mainstreet to lead a mixed-use project on the College Station parcel that would have included parks, offices, senior housing and student housing. But the developer dropped out of the project after Valencia officials said they didn't anticipate a demand for on-site student housing.

The College Station project has been in limbo for more than a year.

Since then, a handful of private property owners have approached the county about doing multifamily projects near the campus. Though none have applied for permits.

Other developers have sought to build affordable multifamily housing on the southern end of Bellalago utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits, but none of those projects were selected for the credits.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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