New commercial buildings in St. Cloud will have to adhere to strict architectural standards as part of a land development code (LDC) update the City Council unanimously approved on Thursday.

Similar guidelines could be extended to unincorporated Osceola County later this year.

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The ordinance requires that new buildings have a variety of architectural elements based on the the square footage. Some of those features could include a peaked or arched roof, canopies or awnings, a clock or bell tower, columns, ornamental moldings or windows over 30 percent of the wall.

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The color palette also would be subject to city staff approval and would restrict the use of bright paint colors.

The rules apply to all non-residential buildings in the city, as well as Planned Unit Developments.

A new building that's less than 10,000 square feet would be required to have at least three of the 17 design elements. As the gross floor area increases, the number of mandated design elements increases. Any building larger than 50,000 square feet would have to include at least five design elements.

"We're trying to avoid having blank walls," Planning Director Andre Anderson told council members.

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The ordinance was one of several LDC updates on the council agenda this week. Another would define the downtown area as an entertainment district, which allows for festivals and events and also allows for consumption of alcohol on public streets and sidewalks.

Sidewalk cafes would be allowed to set up tables in the public right-of-way in the entertainment district, and they're encouraged city-wide. The final vote on this ordinance will be in May.

Osceola County Planning Director Kerry Godwin told GrowthSpotter the county's planning staff might bring a similar ordinance forward in the summer.

For now, the staff is refining its own guidelines for commercial development using a "Centers-based" approach that increases in scale and intensity starting with "neighborhood centers" and growing, ultimately to regional and super-regional centers with multiple department store anchors (ie. The Loop).

"The Centers approach allows for a change of uses and increases in intensity, so there can be a mixture of retail and then office and then residential in close proximity to each other," Godwin said. "And it creates a more walkable environment which can be supported by transit service."

Godwin said county staff wants to tackle the big-picture planning items before it moves on to establishing architectural guidelines for commercial development.

"We will be looking to implement that with the LDC and plan to have it adopted at the same time the board adopts the final Comp Plan."

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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