Winter Park-based Pennington Development Group is working through value engineering and design revisions for a new student housing complex near Seminole State College in Sanford, in order to accommodate a site that is 70 percent wetlands.
The project has been floating on the edge of developer Chuck Hollis' consciousness for a long time.
Company principal Hollis attended what was known then as Seminole Community College. After getting his associates degree in 2001, he transferred to the University of Central Florida, where he earned a finance degree with a minor real estate, then moved to Illinois for 11 years.
Hollis' fond memories of the community college were clouded by the hardships students had finding housing anywhere near the campus. The growing institution changed its name in 2009 to Seminole State College, but the need for student housing remained.
"I moved back in the summer of 2016," Hollis told GrowthSpotter. "I was studying the market and noticed there was still nothing built at Seminole State, neither on campus or off campus, and I knew how much the college had grown. They had just opened a new $30 million student center, and yet there was lack of housing."
Pennington & Associates hopes to alleviate that shortcoming with a projected opening in Fall 2019 of The Preserve at Sanford.
The Sanford City Commission unanimously approved the concept and site plan in February. Construction plans are now under review by city staff.
Pennington still anticipates breaking ground on the project early this summer, Hollis said. A general contractor has been chosen, he added, but declined to name the firm.
"It's a fairly complex site with the wetland component, so we've been working through some of the structural design and related construction costs," he said. "About 70 percent of the property is wetlands. We're working with our team on how to best address that component of the site for constructability purposes."
The complex will have 236 units across a triangular four-story building, with a selection of one-, two- and three-bedroom models available furnished and unfurnished. Amenities include a clubhouse and a pool. Hollis said the apartments will be suitable not just for students but staff and faculty who like the location.
Pennington purchased the 10-acre site for $500,000 in mid-December. Georgia-based developer RISE is a joint venture partner on the project.
"We've been willing to work through the challenges because it was so strategic to Seminole State, so we've worked closely with their executive team to deliver this project," Hollis said.
Pennington will likely invest more than $30 million in the project, he added.
"We wanted this to be a model project," Hollis said. "It's a legacy project for myself and my firm and that's how we approached it throughout the process."
Sanford City Commissioner Patrick Austin, who also attended Seminole Community College and received professional certifications there, recalled the lack of student housing during his days there. Now, with two children attending the college, Austin hails The Preserve as a "unique project" that will benefit the city as well as the college.
"Any time we can take an undeveloped piece of property that just sat dormant for years, if we can put a quality development on that property, it's a win-win for the city, and this is a quality development," Austin said. "It will not just create jobs while it's being built, but it will create jobs when it opens."