The St. Cloud City Council has given preliminary approval to a 31-acre residential development that would include the first apartment complex on Narcoossee Road south of the Orange County line.
The council voted 3-1 to approve the land use update and rezoning to residential PUD requested by Orlando-based Green Slate Land & Development after Council Member Linette Matheny’s motion to deny failed to receive a second. The final vote is scheduled for Oct. 28.
At least a dozen homeowners from nearby Turtle Creek spoke against the project, primarily because of the proposed 4-story apartment community.
Councilman Dave Askew said he initially opposed the project but changed his mind about the need for apartments in the community after speaking with several nurses and caregivers during a recent hospital stay. “So what I’m getting at is they’re not for me,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of that. But you start to learn a little bit more about the younger generation, and they can’t afford a house right now, especially now … And they all live in Lake Nona, but they work here.”
The 30-acre site was the homestead of Osceola land developer Randy Larson. GSL President Isaiah “Ike” Cottle had initially proposed the project as a Commercial PUD with townhomes, apartments and up to 25,000 square feet of retail space fronting on Narcoossee. But he withdrew the application during a council meeting in the spring when Matheny said she didn’t want to look on the city’s Future Land Use map and see red — the color associated with commercial uses.
GSL redesigned the project to eliminate the commercial buildings, making it eligible for Residential PUD zoning. During the Sept. 9 meeting, Matheny said the developer misunderstood her comments — because what she really wanted was more commercial development. She accused the developer of misleading the county by applying for commercial zoning “because you only had 24,000 square feet of commercial, which is essentially like a Chick-fil-A,” she said.
A prototype Chick-fil-A store is between 4,500 and 5,000 square feet.
M/I Homes extended its contract for the 141 townhouse lots and agreed to redesign the community from a front-entry to a rear-entry product to meet the city’s parking requirements. Each unit would have a two-car garage and two additional spaces in the driveway. The townhouse design is similar to a community M/I completed in downtown Winter Garden.
“They are designing a product which can be used for this site and others like it around Osceola County,” Cottle said.
Cottle also confirmed that the multifamily developer would be Epoch Residential, the Winter Park company that recently completed the Sonceto apartments in Kissimmee that sold in July for over $77 million. He agreed to reduce the unit count from 320 to 300, but the height and density were still troubling to some council members, who asked Cottle to address their concerns before the second public hearing.
He said Epoch and its architects can design a four-story building that’s closer to 60 feet in height, instead of the industry standard of 65 feet. The project also was designed with a 50-foot landscape buffer along Narcoossee Road and setbacks that create about 100 yards of separation between the multifamily building and the backyard of the closest single-family home.
“We’ve had a few of those conversations prior to the City Council meeting, as well. We are working diligently with both of our builders to come back to City Council with a plan that addresses those concerns,” he said.