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A rendering of the front view for the house being constructed at 181 Virginia Dr.
A rendering of the front view for the house being constructed at 181 Virginia Dr. (Winter Park/ Phil Kean Design Group)

Out with the old, in with the new.

Two long-time standing homes on extensive waterfront estates in Winter Park are set to be replaced by mansions considerably larger than what was there before.

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On Tuesday, plans submitted by Charles Clayton Construction to replace a 30-year-old, 9,838-square-foot house with a two-story, 16,000-square-foot single-family manse were approved by the city’s planning and zoning board.

The house at 115 Palmer Ave. was recently purchased by husband and wife, Jim and Carole Henderson, for $4.375 million. It was previously owned by Orlando developer Adil Elias and his wife Aida Elias.

An aerial view of the house Palmer Avenue
An aerial view of the house Palmer Avenue (Unique Photography/ Regal Real Estate Professionals)

The property once also belonged to local philanthropists Peggy Crosby and her late husband, Philip, who was an author and businessman.

One may recognize their names on the recently opened Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center within the Center for Health & Wellbeing facility on Crosby Way in Winter Park.

Elias and his wife Aida Elias paid $1.5 million to acquire the property from the Crosbys in 1994.

One of the first noticeable features of the house are some neoclassical statues that stand at its entrance, though it’s safe to say the structures will no longer be staged on the property.

The 9,838-square-foot house along Palmer Avenue sits on about 1.2 acres of land by the shores of Lake Maitland.
The 9,838-square-foot house along Palmer Avenue sits on about 1.2 acres of land by the shores of Lake Maitland. (Unique Photography/Regal Real Estate Professionals)

Plans for the new 16,000-square-foot mansion include a large master bedroom on its first floor and a proposed gym and a separate master bedroom featuring a large porch on the second floor.

Representatives at Charles Clayton Construction were not immediately available to comment.

Demolition activity for single-family homes in Winter Park has gradually increased since 2014, despite the cost for land and construction inching up, as industry insiders have expressed.

In 2018, the city issued 110 demolition permits for main residential structures in Winter Park. The year prior, builders scored permits for 94 tear-downs. In 2016, 89 permits were pulled.

Permits for smaller structures like detached garages were not counted in the data collected by Orlando Sentinel staff.

Winter Park Demolition Permits 2008 to Spring 2019

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Steady spikes in residential demolition activity also took place in 2014 and 2015, around the same time the city’s historic preservation board recommended an ordinance making it easier for property owners to form a historic district in their neighborhood.

The ordinance was narrowly passed in 2016 after several contentious meetings, but within a few months provisions making it easier to declare a neighborhood historic were once again amended.

Winter Park commissioners voted to reverse the changes they made less than six months after the ordinance passed, thanks primarily to a campaign led by then-newly elected commissioner Pete Weldon.

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As of May 2019, builders have scored demolition permits for 42 residential structures so far this year.

Already underway is a new two-story, 9,455-square-foot single-family home on Lake Virginia that will replace the former 4,900-square-foot house at 181 Virginia Drive.

In August, new owners Giovanni Fernandez and Elise Sabatino filed a Notice of Commencement in Orange County for the construction of their Phil Kean-designed house.

Features include a grand foyer entry, library, kids studio, summer kitchen, pool, bar and wine cellar and two separate garages.

An aerial view of the former 4,900-square-foot house at 181 Virginia Drive.
An aerial view of the former 4,900-square-foot house at 181 Virginia Drive. (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate)

Fernandez and Sabatino paid $2.75 million for the property last year. In a previous interview with GrowthSpotter, listing agent Mick Night of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate said the sellers had lived in the home for nearly 50 years.

According to online marketing material, the property was once asking for as high as $3.495 million in 2017.

It was constructed in the late 1920s on less than an acre. The sellers were John A. and Constance Cox, who previously paid $56,700 in 1970 for the house and property.

Giovanni Fernandez and Elise Sabatino are real estate investors known for creating the Hourglass District, where they purchased more than a dozen commercial buildings near the intersection of Curry Ford Road and Bumby Avenue, with the intention to revitalize the neighborhood.

Orlando Sentinel data journalist Adelaide Chen contributed to this article.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the amendments made to the historic preservation ordinance in Winter Park.

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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