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Mid America Apartment Communities plans to start construction late this year on its 327-unit apartment tower at 335 N. Orange Ave. The project may qualify for a 95-percent reduction in school impact fees.
Mid America Apartment Communities plans to start construction late this year on its 327-unit apartment tower at 335 N. Orange Ave. The project may qualify for a 95-percent reduction in school impact fees. (FINFROCK)

Amid an ongoing deliberation to significantly raise transportation fees in Orange County, officials are also in the midst of ruling on another class of increases.

According to a draft technical study obtained by GrowthSpotter, school impact fees in Orange County are slated to rise for every residential category, including single-family, townhouse, multifamily and mobile home, with the exception of a new category being proposed — multifamily high-rises.

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Raleigh Steinhaugher, government affairs director for Greater Orlando Builders Association, said stakeholders and the city of Orlando introduced a separate high-rise category prior to the last update, which took place about two years ago. The reason being that the type of product doesn’t often attract families.

“Less [families] are coming for those product types,” Steinhaugher said. “Those apartments typically have less bedrooms and smaller living spaces, they’re not necessarily intended for families with higher amounts of children."

A draft technical study study conducted by consultant Tindale Oliver suggests increase across all categories of residential development, except multifamily high-rise towers.
A draft technical study study conducted by consultant Tindale Oliver suggests increase across all categories of residential development, except multifamily high-rise towers. (Tindale Oliver)

The study, conducted by consultant Tindale Oliver, classifies high-rises as buildings with a parking structure, a minimum of seven stories and a density of 70 dwelling units per acre.

According to the study, a significantly lower amount of students occupy high-rise developments. Specifically, the study shows only 54 of the 182,678 students enrolled in Orange County schools live in existing high-rise towers.

The consultants also recommends increase across all categories of residential development, citing data that found that the net cost per student increased by 12 percent since 2016.

Without a separate category for high-rise buildings, developers looking to build a single-family detached home would have to pay 9 percent more than the current $8,784 fee, which translates to $9,560.

But the biggest fee increase could be tied to the housing product that appeals to first-time homebuyers and young families: townhomes.

School impact fees for townhouses would rise 27 percent, from $6,930 to $8,805. Multifamily would jump 12 percent from $5,919 to $6,610, and mobile homes would rise 71 percent from $6,088 to $10,387 — reflecting a more accurate representation of children in mobile homes than the previous adopted study.

With a separate category in place for high-rises, multifamily school impacts fees for high-rise developments would significantly decrease 95 percent to $307. If the Orange County Board of Commissioners were to adopt a separate categorization, multifamily developments that do not fall under the high-rise category would have to pay an increase of 14 percent, instead of 12 percent, which amounts to $6,751.

High-rises are exactly the kind of buildings that have sprung up throughout Orlando in the last decade. One proposed development in the pipeline that fits the criteria includes Mid America Apartment Communities planned 327-unit apartment building on the northwest corner of North Orange Avenue and West Robinson Street.

The developer previously told GrowthSpotter, it intends to start construction by the fourth quarter of 2019.

Other projects include Tavistock Development Co.'s proposed 11-story, 450-unit apartment building in the Lake Nona mixed-use district, and MEC Development Associates’ 41-story Zoi House project on North Orange Avenue and East Livingston Street.

This past year the Orlando submarket has made strides in job and population growth. In an effort to sustain it all, county officials are also in the thick of updating transportation fees at a much higher rate. The county also recently raised impact fees for parks, fire stations and deputy gear.

The Orange County school impact fee was last updated in 2016, but given a rise in construction prices, the School Board of Orange County requested an update to the technical study in two years instead of four years.

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“Looking at them they’re modest [increases],” Steinhaugher said. “but put in perspective, they go up every two years.”

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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