Seminole County Developments

Amount of residential development in Sanford employment district causes concerns, code change

Miami-based developer Royal Palm Companies is planning a 420-unit apartment community with two commercial outparcels in Sanford's Westside Innovation & Commerce District. This project, shown here in a rendering, is among several residential projects in the pipeline for an area designated as an employment center.

A large area of Sanford east of I-4 that’s long been designated as an employment district is seeing so much residential growth lately that there’s concern it could be preventing job-generating distribution and manufacturing centers from moving in.

At a recent planning commission meeting, Tom Tomerlin, the city’s economic development director, said he’d spoken with an industrial developer who expressed reluctance about bringing their product to this area known as the Westside Industry and Commerce (WIC) district due to all of the apartments and townhomes popping up.

The Westside Industry and Commerce District covers a 1,325-acre swath of land between the SunRail commuter line, to the north, and S.R. 417, to the south.

“I was speaking with someone who was interested in expanding their industrial business and looking for space, and one of the reasons they held back is because they want to see if residential development was going to show up in the area they were looking at,” Tomerlin said at the Jan. 5 meeting, not naming the developer. “They want to make sure they are as far away from residential.”

In late December, Tomerlin sent a memo to city planning staff requesting a reduction to the percentage of residential space allowed within the WIC district. The city commission approved the minor change to its code during its Feb. 27 meeting. As a result, developers looking to bring housing units to this district must now dedicate more than a third of their project to nonresidential uses.


“The city’s overarching Economic Development goal remains focused on growing the commercial tax base, through attraction/ retention of quality jobs that pay family-sustaining wages,” Tomerlin wrote in the memo. “Sanford’s growing manufacturing base is beginning to abut residential uses within the WIC.”

Rising Star Properties has approval for a 146-bed, 24,816-square-foot assisted living facility called Legacy Manor within the WIC.

That’s a problem, he said.

“Any prospective firm looking to locate or expand in Sanford is keenly aware of what is happening on adjacent land,” he continued. “Residential advancement is beginning to cause concerns for the WIC business community. Both manufacturers and residents are becoming concerned with negative spillover effects associated (with) this adjacent development pattern.”

The Westside Industry and Commerce District covers a 1,325-acre swath of land between the SunRail commuter line, to the north, and S.R. 417, to the south. It extends to the east of Rinehart Road and to the west of Airport Boulevard.

When the comprehensive plan governing growth in this district was approved by the city and county in 2015, residential space was allowed to consume between 10% and 40% of the total land area. The bulk of the space was intended to be for commercial (15% to 50%) and industrial (30% to 75%).

Scannell Properties is working on its Northport Industrial complex within Sanford's WIC district. It will include more than 822,000 square feet of warehouse space upon completion.

Today, industrial development consumes 613 acres of the WIC district, or 46.3%, while commercial development has absorbed 273 acres, or 20.7%.

Residential development has risen on 325 acres, meaning it accounts for 24% of the overall WIC district.

In his memo, Tomerlin said that allowing the residential uses to reach the 40% cap will “significantly impede the ability to achieve the employment center objectives” spelled out in the code.


He told GrowthSpotter that while he understands the demand for attainable and more affordable housing, there’s also a need for industrial development that will create jobs and add to the city’s tax base.

“What we are trying to do is find that balance,” he said in a phone call. “What we are trying to do is say — yes, we need residential, but let’s try to concentrate it toward the SunRail station.”

In response to Tomerlin’s request, city planning staff brought a recommendation to the city commission to reduce the allowed residential uses within the WIC to 30%.

“We want to make sure that we have opportunities for economic development, not just residential development,” City Planner Eileen Hinson told commissioners on Feb. 27, adding that the change would still allow space for housing.

“Dropping it to 30% still leaves ample acreage for potential residential growth, but allows for a greater blend of nonresidential and residential,” she said.

One way of achieving this goal is to require multifamily developers looking to build in the WIC district to allocate at least 35% of the project for nonresidential uses.

Pulte Homes will be building 120 fee-simple townhomes (red) and Davis Development will be building a 529-unit multifamily community.

According to a GrowthSpotter analysis, there are at least 1,986 housing units on the way for this area. The code change will not impact these projects.

Along the south side of S.R. 46, Ohio-based MI Homes is completing the build-out of its 155-unit townhome community Towns at White Cedar. The homebuilder recently received approval for a 48-lot subdivision of detached single-family homes on adjacent land called Traditions at White Cedar.

A short drive to the east, Rising Star Properties has approval for a 146-bed, 24,816-square-foot assisted living facility called Legacy Manor.

Three apartment projects totaling 1,134 units are in the works off Rhinehart Road within the WIC. Ohio-based NRP Group is moving forward on a 352-unit community on 21 acres just west of Upsala Road while Carter USA is set to build a 320-unit complex next door.

To the south, Miami-based Royal Palm Companies is seeking final approval for a mixed-use concept called Tuscany Village that’ll include a luxury 462-bed apartment community and future commercial space.

Near the SunRail station, Winter Park developer Condev has enlisted Atlanta-based real estate firm Davis Development and Pulte Homes to build residential units as part of a planned mixed-use community.


Davis Development will be taking over the multifamily portion of plans, which include building a large transit-oriented apartment community consisting of 529 market-rate rental units.

Meanwhile, Pulte will be developing 120 fee-simple townhomes on the topmost end of the community, located on roughly 40 acres north of S.R. 46 (West 1st. St.), between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and West Airport Boulevard.

This is located directly next to where Indianapolis-based Scannell Properties is adding to its Northport Industrial complex, which will include more than 822,000 square feet of warehouse space upon completion.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.