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Lake Pickett North developer resubmits plans for massive community east of the Econ River

The concept plans outlines where about 2,400 single-family residences and some mixed-use buildings will be planted.
The concept plans outlines where about 2,400 single-family residences and some mixed-use buildings will be planted. (Orange County)

After a hiatus, the developer behind Lake Pickett North, also known as Sustany, is resurrecting plans for the large-scale residential development east of the Econlockhatchee River.

Developer Columnar Investments is preparing to submit an official Planned Development in Orange County outlining where about 2,400 single-family residences and some mixed-use buildings will be planted.

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Sean Froelich, Columnar’s Florida division partner, told GrowthSpotter the development team has come a long way since Orange County commissioners narrowly rejected initial plans in 2016.

Dwight Saathoff says the fierce opposition his project, The Grow, faced may discourage other developers in Lake Pickett.

Froelich said, at the time, they were seeking certain text amendments that will allow the team to set up key Transect Zones on the property.

The zones help set up development standards so the community may swiftly transition from low-intensity development to higher-density development, he said, and would need to be approved before submitting a rezoning application or land use amendment.

Entities tied to Columnar and its directors filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the commission’s decision in 2016 and finally won clearance to move forward several years later.

“Once it came close to the time to resubmit, we went ahead and paused for a second and then finalized plans to come back,” Froelich said.

A conceptual plan shows the Sustany project would consist of several small neighborhood centers, and a larger community center at its core. Other plans include a K-8 school, fire station and areas that feature one of two tiers of residential development allowing for either two dwelling units per acre or five dwelling units per acre.

The large-scale residential community features a tiered system for building residences, as well as a fire station, a K-8 school, several small neighborhood centers and a larger community center at its core.
The large-scale residential community features a tiered system for building residences, as well as a fire station, a K-8 school, several small neighborhood centers and a larger community center at its core. (Orange County/GrowthSpotter)

Orlando-based Canin Associates Inc. is the urban planner behind the project. The company also worked on the urban design of the Avalon Park Orlando community in east Orange County.

The 1,436-acre proposed Sustany project sits just north of another mega-development called The Grow, which will shape more than 1,185 acres of pasture land between Lake Pickett Road and State Road 50, into a so-called “agrihood” with 2,078 homes and 172,000 square feet of commercial space.

Its developer, Dwight Saathoff with Project Finance & Development, is finalizing plans for the first phase of the project. The community will consist of 21 acres of community gardens, a 20-acre community park, 12 miles of recreational trails, edible landscaping, a street for farmers markets and a farm-to-table restaurant, once complete.

The Grow and Sustany were proposed around the same time in 2015 and are also known, respectively, as Lake Pickett South and Lake Pickett North.

The approved preliminary subdivision plan calls for a maximum of 253 single-family homes. Prices range from $400,000 to over $1 million.

At a Florida Cabinet meeting in 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet reversed a judge’s decision that ruled Orange County broke its own growth rules in approving The Grow. An appellate panel in Daytona Beach affirmed the decision about a year later.

The ruling was seen as a victory for supporters of the project, which was met with much criticism from its residents concerned about development encroaching on environmentally sensitive areas and preserving their rural way of life.

State Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, sponsored a bill to create the town of Preservation in east Orange County, in an effort to take control over the area’s future and curtail dense, urban development. But Plasencia’s bill failed to gain traction.

At the 2018 Florida Cabinet meeting, Bob Carrigan, whose family owned an 840-acre ranch, now part of The Grow, said he supported the development because the area is growing and in need of new housing.

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Both projects are near the University of Central Florida, and big defense-related employment sectors including the offices of The Martin Company, Siemens, and Essential Florida Research.

“Orange County didn’t want a piecemeal development,” he said. “There are over 40,000 employees within this quadrant. This economic growth needs homes for their employees.”

Sustany developer Froelich says he’s confident plans for the large scale community will come to fruition.

“There’s still a very huge supply problem,” he said about the area’s housing needs. “I feel really good this time around.”

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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