Winter Park to list 1.5 acres on busy Fairbanks Ave for sale, redevelopment

Winter Park commissioners voted Monday to market a city-owned parcel for sale along busy W. Fairbanks Avenue, a primary east-west arterial that appears primed for commercial redevelopment. 

City commissioners directed staff on April 24 to prepare a Notice of Disposal (NOD) for sale of the surplus property at 1111 W. Fairbanks Ave, formerly the Bowl America site, which lies just east of the intersection with U.S. 17-92 (Orlando Avenue), and south of Comstock Avenue.

The property has 250 feet of frontage along busy Fairbanks Avenue, which boasts more than 33,000 annual average daily traffic trips, according to Orange County. 

It lies directly south of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, within two blocks of the Hannibal Square shopping area, and less than a half mile from the downtown SunRail station and Park Avenue. 

Winter Park's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and general funds were used to buy the property in 2016 for $2.9 million, in order to improve traffic flow on Fairbanks by carving frontage off the parcel for right-of-way. 

Florida law requires a NOD process for surplus property within a CRA boundary that was bought with CRA funds.

Advertising for the NOD should begin on Tuesday, with marketing conducted by the city's contracted commercial real estate broker CBRE. Advertising and marketing efforts will run for 45 days instead of a standard 30.

Any bids would be presented to the city commission in the months to come, and commissioners aren't obligated to accept an offer. 

A growing group of city residents have been rallying support in the past month in favor of not selling the property, and keeping it for expanded parking or a new beautified entrance to MLK Park.

The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board chair wrote a letter on May 30 to the city's mayor and commissioners, asking on behalf of the board not to sell the land and save it for park expansion.

If sold, the city will retain 20 feet of right-of-way along Fairbanks Avenue and 3 feet along Harper Street, which leaves 1.51 acres of property available for sale. 

Future Land Use designation on the parcel is Commercial and the zoning is C-3, with a three-story maximum height established by the Comprehensive Plan. The appraised "as is" market value of the property is $2.96 million. 

Buyer proposals will have to include their purchase price, type of use envisioned, square footage and height of the potential building, and development schedule, among other factors. 

The city's draft NOD states it wants "quality development that will enhance the redevelopment of the Fairbanks Avenue corridor, at a value in the public interest for uses in accordance with the Community Redevelopment Plan." 

The city has said it prefers to not see retail proposals with bank branches, fast food establishments, or automobile repair and service, and may require a deed restriction upon closing to prohibit any future development of these types of uses. 

Additional consideration will be given to proposals that provide public benefit, such as increased green space and connectivity with the MLK Park, the NOD stated. 

Sealed proposals are due to the city's purchasing manager by July 13 at 2 p.m. 

One comp bidders may reference is the Walgreens pharmacy directly west of the Fairbanks site, a 1.34-acre parcel currently being marketed for sale at $10.95 million.

Southwest of that intersection, Leon Capital Group spent $2.95 million last September for a 1.52-acre funeral home property it will redevelop for office and retail. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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