Orlando-based MMI Developmentjust submitted plans in Orange County seeking to restore a contaminated landfill site near the Waterford Lakes Town Center.
The developer is eyeing about 38 acres of land around 10601 Lake Underhill Rd. with the hopes to develop a mixed-use community called Fieldstream Village.
Plans for the multi-phase project include building up to 1,500 apartments, four parking structures and up to 100,000 square feet of walkable retail, restaurant and office space.
For years, the property along Lake Underhill Road has remained vacant, despite its proximity to State Road 408 and Lockheed Martin’s east Orlando campus. It was the site of a former Orange County dump that operated from the early 1960s to 1980s.
In a public release, Joe Kilsheimer, a consultant on the project with the eponymous firm Kilsheimer & Associates, said the dump’s existence has long prevented the property from being developed or placed on the county’s tax rolls.
The extent of the cleanup and infrastructure work put forward will be extensive, in that a portion of the land beneath the pavement of Lake Underhill Road would be required to be excavated due to its contamination.
The developer is looking to enter into an agreement with the state to rehabilitate the property prior to any development. If successful, MMI could be eligible for several state and federal incentives.
One commonly sought agreement is a Brownfield Site Rehabilitation Agreement, which can qualify a developer or property owner to receive a tax credit on cleanup costs and a sales tax credit on building materials for redevelopment projects. The Environmental Protection Agency also offers brownfield grants for site assessment and cleanup.
In addition to remediating the land, MMI is offering to upgrade to a stretch of Lake Underhill Road, from Dean Road to Rouse Road.
Plans call for widening Lake Underhill Road into four lanes, adding bike lanes, broadening pedestrian walkways and constructing three roundabouts to help improve traffic flow.
“The property used to be out in the middle of nowhere, but now it is in the middle of a thriving residential area,” MMI president Mike Wright said in the release.
“Our plan will not only apply a long-needed and complete clean up, but will also make the stretch of Lake Underhill Road... the most improved section [of the road.]”
According to the release, MMI intends to build temporary alternative lanes on Lake Underhill Road to allow for excavation of the waste underneath, prior to its reconstruction.
In order to do all this, the developer is seeking approvals from Orange County to allow the area be designated as a Tax Increment Financing district, which will admit MMI to issue bonds to pay for the new infrastructure improvements.
If the designation is achieved, then the future tax revenues derived from increases in the property’s value (as it is developed) are dedicated toward repaying the loans.
“Without the TIF, or Orange County simply coming up with around $40-plus million, no developer is going to be able to do anything with this site,” Wright said. “Conventional financing for a project like this doesn’t exist in today’s environment. Banks just won’t lend on this type of project due to its complexity.”
MMI has used TIF financing before in Apopka. In 2016, the developer partnered with the city to create a TIF district that enabled the construction of a half-diamond interchange at Marden Road and State Road 414.
The infrastructure work gave way for MMI to help develop more than 150 acres in the area.
So far, the 272-unit first phase of Marden Ridge Apartments project has been completed and a new K-12 private academy is underway. Plans also include a track and field facility, as well as additional potential commercial and residential projects.
According Wright, the Apopka TIF district’s 10-year term to repay the financing will be retired in less than five years.
The developer is also 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.