With groundbreaking nearly set for the Fern Grove affordable senior housing community, the developer is now beginning to plan follow-up phases for the project near Orlando’s Packing District.
Banyan Development Group has approved building permits for the 138-unit Fern Grove community at 3750 W.D. Judge Rd. and recently filed a rezoning request with the City of Orlando to change the zoning to a Planned Development to allow for a second, even larger, apartment building.
The 22-acre property is divided into three zones: two developable lots of about six acres each separated by a large wetland area. Fern Grove phase 1 will be built on Lot 1, which is closest to W.D. Judge Road, and the U-shaped building will be oriented toward the conservation area. When the project went through the initial approval process, Banyan co-founder Alex Kiss had Lot 2 labeled as future development.
The future land use for Lot 2 is R2-A/Wekiva Overlay with a residential low-intensity future land use that allows for one- and two-family homes. Now the developer is seeking to rezone the property to PD with medium intensity, so the entitlements on the southern lot would mirror those in Phase 1. The proposed development would consist of 258 certified affordable housing units for seniors in a 5-story, U-shaped building with a standalone 3-level parking garage. The building would be green certified with rooftop solar panels powering all common electric needs and drought-resistant landscaping.
A 2-story clubhouse oriented toward the wetland conservation area would be incorporated into the center of the residential building, underneath residential units. The development plan calls for 132 two-bedroom units and 126 one-story units, and it would likely be divided into two subphases. That gives the developer to flexibility to apply for SAIL financing over two cycles since the program caps the number of affordable senior units at 160.
By requesting a five-story building and utilizing structured parking, the developer reduces the building footprint, minimizing the wetland impact to less than one-tenth of an acre and allowing for a larger conservation area. Banyan submitted a tree survey with the zoning request and provided a project narrative outlining its plan to preserve as much of the tree canopy as possible.
“In addition to the wetland preserve, several acres of land containing the greatest concentrations of Historic and Specimen old-growth oak tree groves on site would be preserved in their natural environmental state, mainly along the eastern property line bordering the single-family residential neighborhood,” the document reads. “The height of the residential building and the standalone parking structure together allow for the preservation of valuable tree canopy which functions as a lush natural buffer to the neighbors on the east.”
Banyan also recently closed on a 9.6-acre parcel near the Central Florida Fairgrounds where it has building permits for Barnett Villas, a 156-unit affordable workforce housing community. Orange County awarded the project $5 million from its affordable housing trust fund.
The company also is eying a site in Osceola County’s Shingle Creek area where it hopes to secure Low Income Housing Tax Credits to finance the construction of 192 unions of workforce housing.
Banyan’s highest profile project would be Mariposa Groves, a 13-story tower in downtown Orlando that will reserve more than 75 percent of its 138 units for low-income and very low-income seniors.