Winter Park nonprofit chosen for Orlando Clear Lake redevelopment site

Orlando's economic development and housing staff has unanimously selected Hannibal Square Community Land Trust as the development partner for a nearly-5-acre site near Camping World Stadium.

The Winter Park-based non-profit organization was one of six firms to bid for the site on Orange Center Boulevard, across from LIFT Orlando's Pendana at West Lakes development. The selection committee heard presentations from all of the bidders on Tuesday and agreed to focus on the two proposals that wouldn't rely on Low Income Housing Tax Credits as part of the financing package. 

Those bids came from LIFT and Hannibal Square, and both proposed using the CLT model to offer affordable townhomes for sale along Orange Center Boulevard. 

The committee members were more comfortable with Hannibal Square CLT's extensive experience using land trusts. But what really stood out about their proposal was the decision to build a mid-rise mixed-use building at the corner of Orange Center Boulevard and S. Tampa Avenue. The corner building would have 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, including a plaza with outdoor seating, with 20 affordable rental units on the upper levels.

"I love the commercial. That's so important to the residents of the neighborhood," Brooke Bonnett, director of economic development, said during the deliberations.

The selection committee's recommendation now goes to the city's Chief Financial Officer, who will make the final recommendation to City Council.

Hannibal Square CLT Executive Director Camille Reynolds told GrowthSpotter the organization will aim to secure a food vendor as well as a deli and coffee shop for the multi-tenant space.

"That area is a food desert, so we'd like to bring a small grocer or produce vendor," she said. "We want it to be fresh food. When we looked at that site, there's about 10,000 cars that go by every day, and it's really close to Tinker Field and Camping World Stadium. It seemed like that corner would be a strong focal point for a neighborhood center."

Other committee members gave high marks to the Hannibal Square proposal because of the mix of housing product types, the financing package and the transition it provides between the single family homes to the south and the multifamily across the street.

They also liked the CLT's plan to hold onto the land for the long term because it creates "permanent affordability" in the neighborhood even when the unit is resold.

Hannibal Square Executive Director Camille Reynolds said CLT already has a vested interest in the West Lakes area through its joint venture with the West Lakes Partnership. She said that experience gave her organization strong insight into the concerns and priorities for residents of those neighborhoods. 

"The townhomes will all be owner-occupied," she said. "Some will be sold at market rate and some will be for moderate- and low-income families. The finishes will all be the same."

The land trust offered to fully reimburse the city for the cost of buying the land ($700,000) and demolishing the blighted apartment buildings on the site ($335,000). The estimated budget for both the townhomes and mixed-use building comes to $10 million, according to the bid package.

Bonnett said the committee felt the HSCLT proposal "best met the city’s goal of redeveloping once blighted property into a vibrant new community that complements and enhances the surrounding neighborhoods."

Reynolds said Hannibal Square is eager to get started, pending the city's approval of the agreement. "I called my board members, and they're ecstatic," she said. "It's our baby. We appreciate the faith the city has put in us."                                                                                                                  

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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