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Developer withdraws zoning application for luxury apartments in St. Cloud

Epoch Residential built the 280-unit Kestra Apartments near Disney, which sold this year for nearly $80 million. The St. Cloud City Council was set to reject a proposal for a similar project on Narcoossee Road.
Epoch Residential built the 280-unit Kestra Apartments near Disney, which sold this year for nearly $80 million. The St. Cloud City Council was set to reject a proposal for a similar project on Narcoossee Road. (Richard Lubrant/Epoch Residential)

Faced with certain denial by St. Cloud’s City Council, a developer withdrew his permit application that would have allowed for the first luxury apartments to be built on Narcoossee Road south of the Orange County line.

Green Slate Land & Development had received preliminary approval in September for the 31-acre residential Planned Unit Development, across from the Turtle Creek community. The developer had deals in place with M/I Homes to build 137 townhomes, and with Epoch Residential to build a 280 unit apartment community — down from the original plan for 320 units.

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GSL President Isaiah “Ike” Cottle told GrowthSpotter he’s still in discussions with his builders and capital partners to determine the viability of the project.

“I feel like there’s a path forward for a high quality residential development here, absolutely,” he said. “We plan to revisit our development program and believe we will come up with something that will add to St. Cloud’s growing and vibrant community. GSL will continue to work with the community, staff, and city council on better defining a development that will be acceptable and beneficial for all involved.”

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The project would bring about 140 townhomes and a 300-unit apartment complex to Narcoossee Road, about a mile north of U.S. 192.

Cottle felt confident going into the meeting because he had reduced the unit count and the height of the apartment buildings in response to concerns from neighbors and council members. His team also redesigned the multifamily site plan to move the 1-story clubhouse closer to the Narcoossee frontage and to shift the closest 4-story apartment building sideways so only a 75-foot wide portion of the building would face the road. That building would be 300 feet from the closest backyard in Turtle Creek.

He could have submitted engineered site development plans within a week and completed construction in 24 months.

Deputy Mayor Keith Trace complimented the extensive buffers proposed by the developer during the meeting. He voted for the PUD during the first reading but swiched his vote at second reading, saying he couldn’t get past the height of the project.

“From the comments last time, I feel like nothing changed — just a few numbers on a page, ” Trace said. “It wasn’t enough to move the needle, in my mind. I mean, it’s still four-story apartments.”

Lowndes shareholder Rebecca Wilson, representing GSL, said the fourth floor is critical to the success of the project. “Four stories is a big deal to us, because that’s where we can get a quality developer to come in next to our townhomes,” she said. “And because it delivers a product that has an internal corridor and is luxury, with the elevator and those types of amenities.”

The developer used this rendering to show how the raised berm and mature landscaping would screen the apartments from Turtle Creek residents.
The developer used this rendering to show how the raised berm and mature landscaping would screen the apartments from Turtle Creek residents. (Green Slate Land & Development)

Council Member Linette Matheny claimed that there are more than 2,300 apartments already entitled for development in the city limits. Almost all be located in mixed-use PUDs, such as Tohoqua (1,100 units) Center Lake Ranch (500 units), Neptune Village (700 units) and Roan Bridge (260 units). None has approved site development or building permits yet.

“I don’t feel like we need more apartments,” Matheny said. “I received many emails from residents, and not one of them was in support of this development. I feel like low density is compatible here, not high density.”

Low Density Residential zoning in the city caps the density at three residential units per acre.

Wilson pointed out that the city’s Envision St. Cloud master plan identifies this site as suitable for “moderate to high density development.” She also noted that Narcoossee Road is scheduled to be widened to six lanes in 2030, so “it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to put single-family homes there.”

Cottle said the final version of the PUD might include three-story apartments or a mix of townhomes, single-family homes and a Build-for-Rent community. He’s confident M/I Homes would stay on board with a redesigned project.

“M/I Homes has wanted townhomes here forever. They were in the 2020 application, as well,” Cottle said. “I believe they will ride with me with a redesign. They are proposing a great product here and have been a tremendous partner during this process.”

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

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