Lake Mary is laying the groundwork for the area around its SunRail station to become a transit-oriented-development, complete with a compliment of residential housing and retail shops.
The city is in the midst of spending $958,000, largely to lay a 2,900-foot sewer line in an area east of the SunRail terminal so that development can occur there. The line is expected to be fully in by February. The outlay also includes funding for a waste water pump station and a turn lane and some sidewalk at Palmetto Street, which is just to the east of the station.
The steps are being taken to make more habitable an area that is on the east side of the station and contains roughly 25 acres of land. Some of the property is owned by Lake Mary, but most is in private hands, either vacant or with a single family home.
Lake Mary's goal is to create a transit-oriented development, a suburban style that promotes mixed-use development within a five- to 10-minute walk of a transit station. The idea is for people to choose the location as a place to live, play and travel from. The area Lake Mary has targeted surrounds the downtown SunRail station that is off Lake Mary Boulevard, between South Country Club and North Palmetto streets.
Lake Mary has already shown its commitment to the area, selling roughly three acres across the way for construction of the four-story, 200-unit Station House luxury apartment complex, which opened last year. Epoch Properties of Lake Mary was the builder.
To get the ball rolling on a new round of development, the city would try to facilitate things "through flexible regulation and design," said Tom Tomerlin, the city's economic development manager.
While nothing is on the table, there is already interest. "We've already gotten a lot of calls from developers and we tell them to go negotiate with the property owners," Tomerlin said.
The goal is for developers to assemble the parcels, and then work with the city.
As for retail joining the mix, Tomerlin sees the potential as residential building begins, something that frequently happens as homes crop up. "We hope they will be attracted," he said.