Orlando-based Green Slate Land & Development will scrap plans for a new apartment complex and instead focus on a lower-density Build-for-Rent community in the restrictive Narcoossee Overlay District.
GSL is the latest developer to enter a contract for 27.5 acres on Narcoossee Road at the intersection with Jack Brack Road. But the strict design guidelines governed by the Narcoossee Overlay District have thwarted previous projects as potential purchasers tried to find the right balance and mix of uses.
GSL President and CEO Isaiah “Ike” Cottle had initially submitted a conceptual plan for a mixed-use development with 49,000 square feet of retail uses — including a pharmacy and grocery store — along with 64 townhomes and 316 apartments.
While all of the property fronting on Narcoossee is zoned Commercial General, the overlay district caps the size of any commercial building at 15,000 square feet. That will make it difficult to attract a grocery store user, Cottle said.
“It limits our options,” he said. “However, there are a handful of specialty grocers that can fit those requirements, so we’ll be reaching out to gauge their interest.”
In a pre-application meeting earlier this week with Osceola County’s Development Review Committee, planner Corinne Carpenter told Cottle there is no flexibility on the size limits for commercial buildings unless the county updates the Narcoossee Overlay. Residents in the area made it clear they wanted small businesses with a main street ambiance.
“They didn’t want big box. They didn’t want large parking lots full of the cars with one store,” she said. “They really wanted more of, you know, you think of the old historic downtown area.”
Carpenter also told Cottle the Narcoossee community would oppose any plan to build apartments at that location.
“Yeah, so this is a special area, it has a lot of different backgrounds and different lands, within the area,” she said. " It was about a two-to-three-year process when we first did the overlay, and of course anytime you do anything for the first time it does take longer. But it involved probably about 20 different community meetings, going out to the community, working through what they wanted to see where. One of the big things that came out of that was they really did not want apartments. Most residents there just do not want to have apartment building or apartment complexes, as part of their corridor and their overlay.”
GSL received approval for a Planned Unit Development with townhomes and apartments on Narcoossee Road, but that site is in the City of St. Cloud.
With apartments off the table, Cottle said he is exploring a Build-for-Rent product instead. He first mentioned the idea during the pre-app meeting as a compromise solution that might draw more community support. He likes the idea of a horizontal apartment or cottage-style community, similar to what Capstone Communities is building now in Daytona Beach.
“I’ll tell you I’ve had 60 phone calls about that in the last two months, and so there’s definitely a strong interest in it,” he said.
Cottle told GrowthSpotter he’s already pulling together a new conceptual plan that keeps the commercial uses but replaces the townhomes and apartments with a BFR product. The neighborhood would be designed with higher density on the areas with CG zoning. He has a follow up meeting with county planners next week.
“The main positive about doing a BFR product is we think we could do it without having to go through a comprehensive plan amendment or rezoning,” he said. “We could go straight to the Site Development Plan.”