Orange County Public Schools’ selection committee just turned down two proposals to redevelop its large Wymore Road/Hungerford property in the Town of Eatonville.
On Monday, the committee issued a notice recommending the school board reject proposals from Sovereign Land Company and Boca Raton-based developer The Falcone Group, and re-issue another Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purchase and development of the site.
Without getting into detail, school board attorney Amy Envall said neither proposal met all of the RFP requirements.
“The applicants are welcome to align their proposals with the requirements and submit again with the next RFP, along with any other prospective bidders,” she said in an email to GrowthSpotter.
It’s unclear exactly when a new solicitation will be announced. Envall said OCPS has a “longstanding, sincere desire” to help the Town find the right buyer for the property.
For years, attempts to reel in a developer have failed. Last summer the school board received zero responses from developers for the same RFP.
Before that, in 2017, a purchase offer from UP Development won favorable approval by town members and School Board officials, but the company never made it to the development agreement stage and walked away from plans altogether after placing the highest bid — valued at about $20 million.
The pair of most recent proposals were submitted to OCPS last month.
Sovereign Land Company, which shared a presentation of its proposal with GrowthSpotter, intended to transform the site into a mixed-use community called Hungerford Park. Plans included an arts district next to the Eatonville Branch Library, a lakefront public park on Lake Wilderness, and a three-acre community plaza with dedicated retail and restaurant space.
The presentation outlines an additional 5.2 acres of commercial office space, and up to 350 apartments, 144 townhomes, 38 bungalow homes, and 55 executive homes. The proposal was backed by equity capital commitments from Cobalt Capital and NorthMarq Capital.
Kyle Sanders, president of Sovereign Land Co., said he was disappointed by the rejection but plans to submit an improved proposal when the RFP is re-issued.
“Our proposal was rejected because we added some terms and conditions that the RFP allowed... but the committee felt prevented them from making an apples-to-apples comparison,” he told GrowthSpotter.
Sovereign Land Co. offered to buy the 90-plus-acre property for $12 million.
The Falcone Group did not share its offering bid or details to its proposal.
In an email response to GrowthSpotter, Alfonso Costa Jr., an executive vice president at Falcone Group, said the firm will “be ready, willing, and able to comply with all stipulated requirements,” when an RFP is re-issued.
Costa Jr. is a former Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and has experience developing projects in designated opportunity zones, like the Hungerford site.
The RFP states the Town of Eatonville and OCPS are seeking to select a developer capable of delivering an urban, pedestrian-friendly, infill community that mixes different housing products (rental or owner options) with uses that include retail, restaurant, office and civic.
The land use plan envisioned by the Town will allow up to 400 residential units, 800,000 square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail space.
Design criteria standards specify wanting a designated office development corridor fronting Wymore Road, a retail complex along Kennedy Boulevard and a civic/cultural arts area adjacent to the existing branch library.
The 94-acre site on the east side of I-4 is where the former Robert Hungerford Preparatory School once operated before closing in 2009.
Previously interested parties include Unicorp National Developments, Orlando-based LOMA Land Company and Carter, an Atlanta-based real estate firm that co-developed the CNL II mixed-use project in downtown Orlando.