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With Seidel Road at the bottom of this photo, the 304-unit mult-family development by RockHarbor will occupy about 14 acres, while the white portion in the lower right is reserved for future commercial.
With Seidel Road at the bottom of this photo, the 304-unit mult-family development by RockHarbor will occupy about 14 acres, while the white portion in the lower right is reserved for future commercial. (Orange County Planning Staff)

Celebration-based RockHarbor Investments can push forward with plans for a 340-unit multi-family development on about 14 acres in Horizon West, after earning initial approval Wednesday to build to a height that encourages dense development and walkability, despite rules in Orange County code that stood in the way.

RockHarbor's three-story development includes 340 apartment units planned for about 14 acres at the northwest corner of Seidel Road and Seton Creek Boulevard, part of a 35-acre parcel the group bought Aug. 31 for $4.25 million from a Walt Disney World affiliate.

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Less than 100 feet across the street are lots for future single-family residential. RockHarbor's project was caught up, temporarily, between conflicting code for Orange County and Horizon West regarding the maximum height of buildings that lie within a short distance of single-family homes.

Orange County code would limit buildings within 100 feet of single-family homes to also be one story tall. The Village F Specific Area Plan promotes compact and pedestrian-oriented development, and Horizon West code would support the project's three-story height within 45 feet of the housing across the street.

Horizon West's code should emphasize walkability and dense development for mixed-use environments, something RockHarbor's apartments and future commercial project will do, director Kevin Walsh told GrowthSpotter.

The apartments will have a tree-lined street between them and the single-family subdivision, he added. The project will be nearly identical to RockHarbor's Emerson at Celebration apartments, which finished construction this past July.

The developer earned a recommendation for approval Wednesday from the county's Development Review Committee for a substantial change to the PD/LUP of Village F, with requests for five waivers from county code.

That substantial change goes next to the Board of County Commissioners, possibly in mid-December. RockHarbor's Development Plan (DP) is already under review by planning staff, but has yet to be scheduled for DRC.

Of the 35 acres affiliate RockHarbor Residential II acquired in late August, the new development will occupy about 14 acres, which includes 7.6 acres for storm water retention and public park space. About 20 remaining acres fronting Seidel Road are earmarked for future commercial use.

Richard Jones Architecture is architect on the project, while VHB, Inc., is civil engineer.

Editor's Note: This story and headline were updated on Dec. 16 to correct the number of apartment units sought.

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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