Casselberry leaders are hailing a proposed luxury apartment complex as a first step toward boosting the local tax base and attracting residents with more disposable income to the small Seminole County city.
The complex, Azul at Lake Howell, will consist of 384 units on 29.6 acres south of Red Bug Lake Road, east of State Road 436, along the northern shore of Lake Howell. The developers, Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG), are under contract to buy the land from Mayflower Retirement Center Inc. of Winter Park, said JAG associate Erik Halverson.
"Seminole County has a great story to tell," Halverson told GrowthSpotter. "It's got a great school district. It's an in-fill location without a ton of (multifamily) supply in that area, and the Orlando area is experiencing tremendous growth. We really like Seminole County."
This will be JAG's third Orlando-area community under the Azul brand. The company developed Azul at Baldwin Park, which sold on Nov. 8 for $43 million. JAG is also developing Azul Sand Lake Vista in Dr. Phillips.
Halverson said work on the project will likely start in the second quarter 2019. The first units will be ready about a year later, and construction should be finished in 16 to 18 months. He declined to discuss the project in more detail because it is still early in the approval process. He did say JAG will be hiring a general contractor for the project.
Casselberry officials worked with JAG on annexing the then-unincorporated land and on navigating the development approval process. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission gave initial approval to the site plan on Nov. 14. The project is headed toward likely City Commission approval Dec. 10.
Emily Hanna, Casselberry's development services director, said the city is excited about the project's potential to diversify the housing stock and boost disposable income to bring in more urban-style commercial development.
"We're primarily single-family residential and mobile homes," she said. "What we wanted with the multifamily market was to get more rooftops."
Hanna said without more first-class housing, Casselberry won't be able to attract destination restaurants like Outback, and top-flight commercial development. Long ago, the city's commercial growth developed as mostly strip centers with what Hanna called "fly-by-night" or non-traditional users. Much of that type development is still there.
"We knew that in order to get (traditional) type uses in Casselberry we had to get higher disposable income," she said. "By building these luxury multifamily units, we want our average disposable income to increase."
The complex's 16 apartment buildings will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom units in a variety of sizes, from 718 square feet to 1,413 square feet, according to a site plan submitted to the city. Amenities will include two pool/clubhouses, 12 garage buildings, a playground, a central park, a dog park and passive access to Lake Howell. Halverson said the apartments are designed to have high-level aesthetics and finishing.
The development team for Azul at Lake Howell consists of architect, Charlan Brock Associates of Maitland; civil engineer, LandDesign of Orlando; mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer, Migre Engineers LLC of Longwood; geotechnical engineer, Terracon of Winter Park; and landscape architect, Dix.Hite+Partners of Longwood.