Now may be the time to shed a tear for the old Skycraft Surplus building in Winter Park, perhaps best known for its cartoonish facade featuring protruding red rockets and a flying saucer hovering above.
Preliminary plans to replace the old 6,000-square-foot retail store at 2245 W. Fairbanks Ave. with a new 32,000-square-foot medical office building for the Magruder Eye Institute medical group were unanimously approved by the Winter Park’s planning and zoning commission, Tuesday night.
“Unfortunately we are not going to have the Skycraft building anymore,” city planner Jeffrey Briggs told board members. “It has been quietly for sale for the last couple of years … and I can tell you being part of the city we have only gotten two kinds of phone calls: We got a client call from Wawa and the only other phone calls are about fast food.”
Fiedler’s Skycraft Parts And Surplus Inc. assembled four residential properties just north of the old retail store and the eye institute has another two under contract for a total of about 2.5 acres of land, across seven parcels, for the new medical office development.
Becky Wilson, shareholder at Lowndes and chair of the firm’s Land Use, Zoning & Environmental Group, represented the applicant, Magruder Eye Institute, at the meeting. She said the medical group plans to own and fully occupy the medical office building and will be relocating from its Mills Avenue office location.
The applicant also plans to remove all the curb cuts along Fairbanks Avenue and create access points on Orange Terrace Drive and Cambridge Boulevard, as well as a cross walk connecting the development to an employee parking lot.
“We’re buying additional property to provide additional parking so there’s not a problem with overflow parking in the neighborhood,” she said. “We can be a catalyst for what happens up and down Fairbanks … We’re working with staff to decide what that landscape looks like.”
Plans show an increased landscape buffer between the building, sidewalk and Fairbanks Avenue. There will also be a wall to screen the adjacent single-family neighborhood from the proposed commercial development.
Winter Park’s Planning and Zoning committee approved a request by the applicant to annex the residential properties into the City of Winter Park; amend its Comprehensive Plan and Official Zoning Map to establish a land use that allows for parking on those annexed properties; and for Conditional Use approval to construct a two-story medical office building on the combined properties.
“This use is heavy on parking needs, low on traffic generation,” Briggs told board members.
The City of Winter Park has spent at least $8 million installing a sanitary sewer line system and new traffic and streetlights in the corridor. In addition, a $12 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation helped bury electric transmission lines. That project is near completion.
Updates to the infrastructure along Fairbanks Avenue is drawing interest from more developers who may help revitalize the area.
Tech and health care entrepreneur Christopher Tracy is looking build a new two-story, 10,000-square-foot office development along Fairbanks Avenue, where Paco’s Mexican Restaurant closed in 2016 after 35 years in business. The site also contains a closed electronic cigarette store and cell tower.
Property owner Jim Veigle is also rounding up about three acres of land north of Kentucky Avenue and east of I-4 for redevelopment. No plans for the property have been submitted to the city yet. The owner is looking to annex about two acres of the property into the city of Winter Park.