A planned 52-unit townhome community near Longwood’s SunRail station is the latest evidence the train stop has become a catalyst for new development just as city leaders hoped it would be.
Orange Crown Companies, led by managing partner Ryan von Weller, is preparing engineering plans for the townhome development that will be divided into two sections. The northern section of 28 units will be located on 1.55 acres in the southeast intersection of John L. Mica Way (formerly Longwood Avenue) and Palmetto Avenue. The southern portion, consisting of 24 townhomes, will be built on roughly 1 acre, also east of Mica Way, between East Church Street to the north, East Warren Avenue on the south and Myrtle Street on the west. The sections will be developed simultaneously.
Orange Crown, established in August 2007 and based in Winter Park, owns the land and will handle horizontal development. The company then will sell the lots to homebuilder Lennar Homes.
“We bought most of (the land) before SunRail was even formalized,” Von Weller told GrowthSpotter. “Once the (Florida Department of Transportation) and the state put the formulation in motion, we started assembling property there, about 10 years ago.”
Von Weller is also director of Florida real estate development for Wendover Housing Partners. Wendover built another transit-oriented development, Weston Park Apartments at Longwood Station, adjacent to the SunRail station.
“We would probably like to start construction sometime in July,” Von Weller said. “Then it will probably take 90 to 100 days (to develop the lots). That’s what the contractors we’re bidding with gave us as preliminary information.”
Fred Miller, Lennar’s vice president for land acquisition, could not be reached for comment.
Tom Krueger, Longwood’s director of economic development, told GrowthSpotter the city has had several pre-development meetings with Orange Crown but has seen no engineering plans.
“We’re going back and forth,” he said.
The townhome project is just latest in a burst of development around the rail station, emanating from both private and public sector. The Weston Park Apartments opened about three years ago. And in March, Elevation Development announced plans for a 59,743-square-foot shopping center, Shoppes at Longwood on State Road 434, about 1,000 feet from Ronald Reagan Boulevard. It is Elevation’s first project in Longwood.
Residents of the apartments and townhomes will be within walking distance of the train station and the recently redeveloped Reiter Park, with its three stages and an amphitheater.
“It affords a lot of venues from weddings to movies in the park to concerts,” Krueger said of the public park. “It’s become a gathering place.”
The city is also busy making Ronald Reagan Boulevard more pedestrian-friendly, adding on-street parking, bike lanes, pedestrian islands and crossovers, while narrowing the traffic lanes. That work should be finished by the end of August, after which the rebuilt thoroughfare will be landscaped.
Krueger said the combination of mass transit, the redeveloped park and a safer, more walkable Ronald Reagan Boulevard are attracting developers and people who want to live in the area.
“We’ve been busier than we’ve been in the history of this city,” Krueger said. “All this development in the area is creating an exciting time for us.”