Two separate developers are in early-stage planning for combined live-work spaces on opposite ends of Osceola County.
Broker Mark Allen with Commercial Real Estate Professionals met with county planning staff on Wednesday to discuss site plan issues for a three-parcel assemblage at the northeast corner of Narcoossee and Thompkins roads.
Orlando gastroenterologist Muhammed Asif Mohiuddin, who has offices in Kissimmee, Poinciana and St. Cloud, has the 9.5 acres under contract and plans to develop a three-story live-work building along Narcoossee Road, and a 50-unit townhouse complex behind it. A shared drainage pond would separate the two projects, and the townhouse community would have its own pool and clubhouse facility.
Broker Arnold Austria is eyeing a smaller site on the west side of the county, just off Osceola Parkway and adjacent to The Images condominiums. Austria met with county planners Wednesday to discuss his project, which would include 8,800 square feet of office or retail space with residential condos on the second and third floor.
"I'm from Chicago," he said. "We have these type of units all over the place. It's still a new concept to Florida."
Craig Zetwo, an engineer with Hanson, Walter & Associates, represented both projects in pre-application meetings on Wednesday. While county staff endorsed the Narcoossee project, the Osceola Parkway site presented several challenges, ranging from access issues to compliance with the county's Land Development Code.
Austria told GrowthSpotter he has the 1.9-acre parcel under contract. It's currently owned by the adjacent condo association, and Austria said he has negotiated terms to allow residents of his project access through the gated community and access to Images amenities.
But county staff said his project, as it was designed, fails to meet density requirements in the LDC. That density was increased in an LDC update commissioners approved on Monday. Under the new code, he would need at least two more residential units.
Austria was proposing 16 residential units over the eight office/retail spaces. "So we could do it a week ago, but we can't do it now?" he asked.
Staff members suggested he convert some of the two-bedroom condos to one-bedroom units to meet the code requirement. "The density is a big issue," he said afterward. "The whole idea is that the business owner would live upstairs, but I don't know how many business owners are going to want one-bedroom condos."
To make matters worse, the county's legal staff told Austria his project wouldn't meet the definition of a live-work building because the design called for exterior stairs leading to the second- and third-floor units. They told him it would be considered a mixed-use project.
"We were going to market it as live-work," Austria said.