Sanford & Coral Gables developer kick off negotiations for downtown land

A rendering of the mixed-use development proposed by a South Florida developer for 5.5 acres of city-owned land in downtown Sanford.
A rendering of the mixed-use development proposed by a South Florida developer for 5.5 acres of city-owned land in downtown Sanford. (Sanford Waterfront Partners)

A South Florida developer wants the City of Sanford to give the company 5.5 acres of city-owned land in its historic downtown, in exchange for building a mixed-use development that would add an estimated $50 million to the tax rolls and hundreds of new jobs.

Sanford commissioners and Torre Companies of Coral Gables entered a Memorandum of Understanding in February to develop the waterfront land in downtown, after choosing the developer in mid-December. Torre, which is operating as Sanford Waterfront Partners LLC for this project, has spent the last seven months performing market research and creating a master plan.

The proposed plan now calls for 22 buildings that would provide 234 residential units, restaurants, retail and office space.


Sanford city leaders hedged their bets when they picked Torre Construction and Development to lead a $50 million revitalization project for their downtown, readying two backup developers in case the lead choice fails to impress.

Before construction can move forward, city commissioners must approve the plan and a development agreement, as well as negotiate a sale price for the three-block area (5 semi-contiguous acres) that is bounded by First Street and Seminole Boulevard on the south and north, and Sanford and Hood avenues on the east and west.

The land has been appraised at $1.7 million. Sanford Waterfront Partners is proposing to pay a pro-rated cost for the property based on completion of the development within five years. If all 234 residential units are built, the company is asking the city to waive all purchase costs for the land.

The developer is also asking the city to:

Learn who's behind the project, what land parcel they're repurposing, and what led to the design choices for this plan, yet to be filed with the city.

-- Pay to remove and replace soil on the site that environmental studies show contains muck and peat. That cost could be as much as $4 million.

-- Fund infrastructure costs related to utilities and transportation.

-- Waive impact and development fees on the project, which could run as high as $2 million.

Details on the Invitation for Bids, scope of work for contractors, and what it will bring to downtown Sanford.

If Sanford Waterfront Partners fails to begin construction in a timely manner, the land would revert back to the city.

Sanford's city staff is evaluating the proposal and will make a recommendation to city commissioners, who are expected to vote on the proposal at their Oct. 10 meeting.

Deputy City Manager Tom George told GrowthSpotter on Monday that negotiations are still fluid, and that the city has yet to counter.

A Lake Mary developer has an interesting proposition for the City of Sanford – he wants to buy the city's northern waste water treatment facility.

"As designed, the project will have a far reaching impact on the city of Sanford," City Commissioner Art Woodruff wrote in an email. Woodruff represents the downtown district where the development would be located.

The commissioner added that the project would add more than "$50 million to the city's tax base, bring more people (and customers) to downtown and provide over 200 permanent jobs."

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