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Australian developer wants to expand in Oviedo, but proposal raises questions

An Australian developer is looking to extend its Florida presence into Greater Orlando, but the company's first public go-round with Seminole County planners has left it with questions over which use may pass muster with county commissioners.

The Vantage Group International has under contract a 2.13-acre parcel on the north side of the University of Central Florida at 210 Park Road in Oviedo, where it wants to develop two multi-family buildings with 27 apartments.

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As initially proposed to Seminole County planners at a pre-app meeting on Feb. 10, a two-story building at the site would be remodeled as student housing. The other building currently on the parcel would be demolished and rebuilt also as student housing.

Tina Williamson, director of development services for Seminole County, cautioned that off-campus student housing on the property may draw push-back from the homeowner's association of a neighboring single-family subdivision.

Williamson said the only off-campus student housing project county commissioners have approved in the past decade has been one that's owned and managed by UCF's Housing and Residence Life Department, the NorthView apartments.

Williamson offered to give the county's conditions of approval placed on that Northview project to Rob Keeler of The Vantage Group, who was representing the company at the meeting, as a potential model for his own student housing development plan.

That operation agreement ensured the impact on neighborhoods around NorthView would be minimal, said Mark Schlueb, spokesman for UCF.

Keeler switched gears at the Development Review Committee meeting, following Williamson's comments about student housing. He asked planners if there were any communities in the area that cater to older residents, trying for a potential change of use.

Keeler was told there was one nearby, Palm Valley, a 55-and-older community about two miles north of UCF. He then offered to make both buildings a regular multi-family development. Even that potential use drew some words of caution from planners.

They said since the apartments would have many single-family homes around them there could be discord over structure height, which Keeler has yet to determine, parking, noise and a growth in crime.

It was suggested The Vantage Group hold a community meeting to address any concerns area residents might have.

In a conversation on Feb. 16, Williamson said either multi-family or assisted living residential could easily be seen as compatible uses for the property, with appropriate conditions of approval. She added that off-campus student housing still had the potential to earn commissioners' support.

The Vantage Group is a developer and property investor that started in Australia and is expanding in the U.S. The company has done three projects in Florida, including a school in Miami-Dade.

The property in question was last sold in late 1993 for $291,800 to a trust in the name of Agnes Trung Cowley, property records show.

Keeler declined to say what Vantage was prepared to pay for the property.

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Feb. 17 to clarify comments made by Tina Williamson during the Feb. 10 pre-app meeting.

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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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