A state law and charter conflict in Orange County is freezing up numerous non-commercial developments, including one affordable housing project.
For nearly a year, only a limited amount of residential projects in the county have been able to move forward due to a dispute about how Orange County’s school district must credit developers who pay fees to help add classrooms in areas where schools are at or near capacity.
Nearly a dozen developers and real-estate related association reps said they want to resolve a nearly year-long impasse that indefinitely halts multifamily and residential developments from moving forward in Orange County.
A state law that passed last year essentially reduced the amount of fees received by the school district from developers.
After the law went into effect, Orange County Public Schools said that without the capital contribution, it could no longer certify additional school capacity for particular projects because it conflicts with Orange County code and other established agreements.
The goal of certifying capacity is to ensure overcrowded schools should not be aggravated by the implied number of students a development imposes.
Receiving the school district’s determination is a common avenue developers use to move their projects along. An alternative joint approval process in the charter requires the approval of all significantly affected local governments, though it hasn’t been used by developers yet.
There are at least 18 projects on hold, while 25 have passed capacity determinations as of May 8. The projects include affordable housing, multifamily, townhome and single-family home developments.
Below is a list of the projects affected, and the corresponding development plans obtained by GrowthSpotter:
Park View Preserve is a proposed 282-lot single-family subdivision at 3845 and 4011 Golden Gem Road. Developer Jose Cantero of Winter Garden-based Cantero Holdings LLC, previously told GrowthSpotter he no longer anticipates the construction of his proposed 282-lot single-family subdivision in Apopka to begin on time due to the conflict.
Homebuilder K. Hovnanian Homes was under contract to purchase about 31 acres at 810 S. Binion Road. Plans included building a 67-lot single-family home subdivision. It is unclear if the homebuilder is still under contract.
Flournoy Partners was working with property owner Binion Road LLC to try to redevelop 19.7 acres of land at 1505 and 1821 S. Binion Rd. into a multifamily, mixed-use community. Only a rezoning application has been submitted to the city of Apopka for the Binion Road project. No site plans or development plans have been submitted to the city yet.
Orlando-based developer Khaled Hussein was working with homebuilder Toll Brothers to develop 46 single-family homes on about 14.5 acres just north of Holden Avenue, on the eastern side of S. Orange Blossom Trail. Several Toll Brother principals sent Orange County commissioners a letter asking to resolve the issue at an earlier meeting this month.
Orlando-based MMI Development was eyeing land next to Eatonville’s Lake Weston for a proposed $80 million multifamily community. Plans call for up to 437 apartments. The land spans about 50 acres at 2454 W. Kennedy Boulevard. Records show the developer has not yet bought the property.
Winter Park’s Ravaudage developer Dan Bellows is trying to develop a mixed-use district in Maitland. His company, Sydgan Corp. was seeking allowances to rezone 17.8 acres of land on the eastern shore of Lake Gem. Plans include a 247-unit multifamily development that’s under contract with Raleigh, North Carolina-based Aventon Companies.
Last year, property owner Deborah Postell was proposing to build 147 affordable multifamily units at 7856 Forest City Road. The 4.2-acre project was called Artisan at Forest Summit. Several attempts to reach Postell and broker Mario Golden were unsuccessful. It is unclear if the project is still moving forward.
Miami-based Related Group was seeking to covert 20 acres north of International Drive and West of Daryl Carter Parkway into a new apartment community. Plans call for up to 420 apartment units. The property lies about five minutes away from the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets.
AdventHealth System/Sunbelt Inc., is seeking to sell about 114 acres of access land it owns near Lake Nona for a new mixed-use development. Proposed entitlements allow for 150,000 square feet of retail commercial uses, 150,000 square feet of office uses, 900 multi-family residential units, 200 townhome units, 200 single-family dwelling units, and a 200-bed assisted living facility, all at 14314 Boggy Creek Road. It is unclear what exactly is on hold due to the conflict.
Multifamily developer Wood Partners is pursuing about 12.5 acres at 2630 Amazonas Circle for what could become its third apartment development surrounding Darden Corporation’s headquarters (Taft-Vineland Apartments). Plans show the developer is seeking allowances to build up to 346 apartment units.
Developer Columnar Investments was master-planning a large residential development on former ranch lands east of the Econlockhatchee River. The 1,435-acre neighborhood, called Sustany, was proposed to feature nearly 2,000 new homes.
Kings Landing was originally proposed as a 70-lot residential development that is being marketed for sale by the Kingdom Church Inc. The property lies southwest of where Clarcona Ocoee Road and N. Powers Road intersect, in northwest Orange County. Recently submitted plans show the sellers are seeking entitlements to allow for 70 affordable age-restricted townhomes. Typically age-restricted projects, won’t impact overcrowded schools, but a spokesperson for school district told GrowthSpotter the application is still active with OCPS, so it’s still included in the list.
Jose Hernandez is working with property owners Jose and Belkis Guzman to rezone 8.9 acres from Farmland Rural District to Residential District to develop a detached single-family or townhome subdivision at 1975 4th Street. The project is called Hoenstein Landing.
Orlando-based J And S Industrial Holdings LLC, led by Steve Pece, owns about 18 acres of industrial land at 6730 Hanging Moss Rd. and 2308 Mercator Drive. It is unclear what the owner intends to develop, but the project name, J&S Apartments, indicates it will be multifamily. Previously filed plans on about 7.5 acres of the land show that Pece wanted to build a 30,000 square foot waste processing facility. Some site work began last year.
Winter Park-based Greer Contracting Company is looking to convert about 240 acres of land south of Sadler Road and north of the Seaboard Air Line Railway into a 141-lot residential development. The company is doing business as Lake Bessie Investments Partnership Limited.
Orlando-based MMI Development wants to rezone 58 acres by Lake Underhill for a new mixed-use community that will have about 600 apartments, two hotel projects, several restaurants and community green space with a soccer field and track field. A majority of the property is owned by Bent Tree Holdings LLC and is located at 10601 Lake Underhill Road.
Developer Richard Wohlfarth is trying to complete his 75-acre mixed-use project in Ocoee, known as Ocoee Village Center. The development is slated to bring more than 300 apartments, 230 townhomes and 150,000 square feet of commercial space. He filed an application with Ocoee last year but he has been held up, unable to get a capacity enhancement agreement.
Miami-based Westside Capital Group is in the midst of planning a $1 billion mixed-use development in Orlando’s Rosemont neighborhood. The company’s founder and president, Jakub Hejl, recently made his plans to develop “high-end residences and retail” on a shuttered 128-acre golf course public at a community meeting covered by GrowthSpotter.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include an alternative avenue developers have a right to exercise to move projects along. A previous version of this story incorrectly implied without the school board’s determination a project cannot move forward.