Washington, D.C.-based luxury residential developer Brook Rose has reduced the size and scope of his proposed memory care facility in northern Winter Park six months after first going before the city's Planning and Zoning Board, but now faces staff opposition and more vocal opponents from the neighborhood.
Dubbed Villa Tuscany, the Mediterranean-style facility would be located on 3.77 acres (2.09 acres developable) at 1298 Howell Branch Road, between the intersections with Temple Trail and Temple Drive, and just east of the Howell Branch Preserve Park.
The developer is seeking conditional use approval to build a 34,986-square-foot, three-story assisted living facility with 24 rooms (50 beds), a reduction of 14 rooms and 13,664 square feet from his original proposal in late March. The project goes before the city's PZB again on Tuesday.
His affiliate behind the project is Winter Park Elderly Services, which has a contract to buy the land from Islington, Inc., an affiliate of Winter Park-based attorney and engineer Bernard J. Martin III, who previously paid $300,000 in June 2003.
To the north and east are commercial properties, and to the south and west are single-family residential. The project incorporates Mediterranean architecture in order to be residential in style, and help it be compatible with the neighborhood.
The developer has requested two variances, the first being a building height of 39.5 feet, in lieu of a maximum 35 feet permitted in R-3 zoning. The second is a lakefront setback of 75 feet, in lieu of the required 86.25 setback to Lake Temple.
City planning staff have been supportive of the project on most points. They say there's a clear need in Winter Park for memory care facilities, and this project's location along an arterial highway at a signalized intersection is acceptable.
The type of use is appropriate at the location based on zoning and future land use, and the architectural style is well-suited to the surrounding neighborhood, planners wrote in their report.
But their key sticking point is the height waiver, which also triggers the lakefront setback waiver. Staff have steadfastly opposed lakefront lot variances for new development in recent years.
Rose could make one design change that would result in fewer rooms, but an acceptable 35-foot height, staff wrote. Both variance requests are rooted in the design to put living units on the second and third floors above the porte-cochere.
Staff recommended removing the second floor over the porte-cochere, and creating a porte-cochere with a two-story height that has a third floor of living units above. That gives ample clearance for emergency vehicles, and the building height and lakefront setback would then be reduced to within code.
Staff are recommending denial of the project, unless a site plan redesign is made to eliminate the lakefront setback encroachment.
The project's latest PZB application drew 45 letters, a mix of support from registered nurses, senior housing staff and business owners in Winter Park, and opposition from residents near the site who fear traffic generation, the building's height and its location near the lake and a sinkhole.