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UP to develop new Walmart in Altamonte, city holding project to high standard

Walmart is going with a more neutral color scheme for its new Superstore to appease Altamonte Springs.
Walmart is going with a more neutral color scheme for its new Superstore to appease Altamonte Springs. (Walmart)

UP Development will serve as developer of the new Super Walmart in Altamonte Springs while also keeping ownership of the 23-acre property, but Walmart will choose the general contractor, principal Scott Fish told GrowthSpotter on Thursday.

UP, re-developer of Fashion Square Mall, The Shoppes at Alafaya Trail and a number of other local projects with a specialty in retail, has owned the land through an affiliate since Fall 2013, purchasing it for $3.5 million, property records show. Walmart made its first overtures to Altamonte Springs in 2014.

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Walmart this week began seeking a general contractor for the store, but the retail juggernaut is running into some push back from the municipality.

While it's usually residents who oppose these stores of more than 150,000 square feet because of traffic and other concerns, this time Altamonte Springs city planners are placing demands, despite all the tax dollars the project would bring in.

Plans are for a 34-foot-high, nearly 200,000-square-foot store at 200 South S.R. 434, to sit on the former home to The Links at 434, nine-hole golf course fronting West Town Parkway.

The developer may be looking at mixed-use for the property on S.R. 50, and was drawn to the city's recent growth.

The new supercenter would replace a roughly 30-year-old standard Walmart (110,000 SF) across the street, on 8.5 acres. The cost of a new supercenter runs several million dollars.

The city has received no overtures about subsequent development at the existing store site.

The property is owned by UP Fieldgate US Investments-Bradshaw LLC, affiliate of UP Development.

Six general contractors, including one local and two from outside the state, are in the running for the contract to build the Walmart Supercenter in Horizon West's Hamlin Town Center.

Walmart is serving, as it generally does, as its own project manager, according to city documents.

The main problem the city had with Walmart was the color scheme of the store's exterior, with the retailer usually doing its supercenters in bright blue with concrete sides, accompanied by red trim to be visible from distances.

UP Development sold its partnership stake this week for roughly $25 million in The Shoppes at Alafaya Trail in Waterford Lakes, paying off debt it had shouldered to develop the property, and now has another 23 acres under contract.

Altamonte Springs, which has been dealing with the project for one-and-a-half years, wanted a more neutral set of colors.

The city let Walmart know "something complementary to our community would be needed," City Manager Franklin Martz said Wednesday. "They complied and deviated from their typical approach."

The store will be tan and brown, which is not unprecedented, but not common.

After paying $7.3 million last month for 29 acres on U.S. 192 W for a planned Walmart Supercenter, the company has applied to rezone an adjoining nine-acre parcel, and a revised site plan shows the future store located largely on the new property.

Still not settled for the store are Altamonte Springs' desire for Walmart to add longer turn lanes on West Town Parkway.

The city also wants an additional street light on West Town Parkway and for the project area to be more "pedestrian friendly," meaning wider sidewalks and more defined walking areas for shoppers coming from their cars to the store, or pedestrians from outside the parking lot.

"The City of Altamonte Springs feels strongly that any project should be done correctly and meet community standards, and a (building) permit will not be issued until then," Martz said.

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Last month Osceola county approved the retailer's building permit to build a 189,067-square-foot Supercenter.

Altamonte Springs planners hold their next formal meeting with developers on April 20, which would be Walmart's next opportunity to provide feedback, or rebuttal, to the city's conditions.

A Walmart spokesman declined to discuss specifics of what was going on with the city, but did acknowledge that steps were being taken to get the project ready for construction, with the submissions for a general contractor due in early May.

The company is working with architectural and engineering firm CPH, while Lochrane Engineering is serving as civil engineer.

Unlike regular Walmarts, which just carry general merchandise, superstores also have groceries and most are open 24 hours a day.

Walmart has about 3,500 superstores across the country and Central Florida has a fair share, with almost 20 supercenters and regular ones in Orlando city limits alone. Several more are being built or are planned in the Greater Orlando area.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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