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Highlighted in blue are just over 11 acres with access on W. Colonial Drive, west of the Central Florida Fairgrounds, where Banyan Development Group has proposed a slate of 225 new affordable housing units.
Highlighted in blue are just over 11 acres with access on W. Colonial Drive, west of the Central Florida Fairgrounds, where Banyan Development Group has proposed a slate of 225 new affordable housing units. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

Local affordable rental housing group Banyan Development has plans for around 225 units of family- and senior-focused apartments on land west of the Central Florida Fairgrounds, with a civil engineer yet to be hired and an application planned for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation later this year, a principal with the company told GrowthSpotter.

Banyan formed in January, a partnership by affordable housing consultants Jeff and Alex Kiss of Winter Park-based Kiss & Company, Inc., with multifamily owners-operators Lou Vogt and Scott Zimmerman of Orlando's AGPM, LLC.

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Planned for just over 11 acres across three contiguous parcels, the main parcel lies at 817 Swiss Lane, with access provided off the main road at 4849 W. Colonial Dr. The property lies a few hundred yards east of N. Pine Hills Road.

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The land would be developed in two phases, with Barnett Villas the first as a family-focused affordable housing community with one- and two-bedroom options across a dozen or more two-story buildings, and 104 total units.

Barnett Grove would follow as a seniors-only affordable community with one- and two-bedroom options across four stories, and 120 units.

A previous Planned Development approved for the property allows for up to 236 units. Zoning would limit the height to three stories, but a waiver may be requested for four.

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Managing members held a pre-app with Orange County planning staff in mid-June. The developer is now waiting on staff to review the PD history, and confirm what entitlements and unique waivers were previously approved.

They hope to work within this PD, and then have a preliminary Development Plan verified by Orange County as "under review" by mid-November, so Florida Housing Finance Corp. knows they're in the development approval process, said Alex Kiss, managing member.

"The county is still supportive, however until we obtain our funding for the development we will hold at the preliminary planning stage. We still have not settled on an engineer," he said.

Banyan Development will aim to include as many energy-saving features on the property as possible, including solar panels, retaining existing trees and featuring an existing stormwater retention pond in the site plan, Kiss said.

The group will pursue affordable housing tax credits and state loan incentives, which will allow it to rent at 60 percent of Average Monthly Income for all of the apartment units.

In deals like this where the Kiss' development group goes after competitive financing, they get to the preliminary review stage with local government, hit pause, wait for funding confirmation, then return to finalize plan approvals and pull permits.

With that order of operations ahead, construction on the project would only start in Fall 2017 at the earliest, Kiss said.

A conceptual site plan was produced by Forum Architecture. AGPM would be tabbed to manage the property.

The land is owned by Swiss Lane LLC, managed by local attorney Craig S. Pearlman and wife Rhonda Pearlman, who declined to comment for this story.

The need for affordable housing – also referred to as workforce housing – is high in Orlando, with the city tied with Las Vegas as the worst cities in the nation for affordable housing, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. A March report covered by the Orlando Sentinel shows there are 15 affordable rentals for everyone 100 low-income renters in Greater Orlando, and that real estate values in Orlando have increased six times more than wages in the last five years.

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Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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