Clearwater-based Epic Development is almost through a year-long gauntlet of community meetings and Orange County staff critique to rezone 10 acres outside Ocoee in a rural settlement for a new neighborhood retail center.
Located on the southeast corner of Clarcona Ocoee Road and N. Apopka Vineland Road, most of the project's 9.8 acres were successfully led through an Orange County Comprehensive Plan amendment in 2016.
The property lies within the Ocoee Rural Settlement, requiring a developer to abide by more thorough requirements for stormwater retention, and minimum open space of 25 percent.
Epic bought the land through an affiliate in December 2016 for $3.05 million from Pizzuti Companies, and began the process in March 2017 of filing a Land Use Plan to rezone.
In the past year, Epic has held two community meetings, supplied a traffic study to the county and revised its LUP multiple times, ultimately reducing the gross floor area by 6,059 square feet for the project.
The developer earned an approval recommendation last week from Orange County's Development Review Committee to rezone the property from a mix of retail, citrus rural and rural county estate uses to Planned Development, in order to build up to 58,022 square feet of C-1 (Retail Commercial District).
An ongoing concern for the project will be its proposed design compatibility with the rural settlement area, said Alberto Vargas, county planning manager.
Epic took steps to assuage those concerns by including reference photos in its latest LUP to demonstrate the "Florida Vernacular" architectural style, and list the potential building materials, colors and design elements that would be used.
Andrew Hupp, principal with Epic, declined to comment for this story.
About two thirds of the property is marked for retail development on the latest Land Use Plan, with the southern third reserved for stormwater retention.
The developer also provided staff a conceptual street layout and promise of compartmentalizing the retail development into three pods of buildings, to show that all the approved square footage wouldn't be absorbed by one or two big-box retailers.
Epic has yet to submit a Development Plan. When it does it would go to the Board of County Commissioners for approval with a public hearing, which was a new condition set by DRC last week.