City Center West Orange developer preps CDD to govern Ocoee project, issue bonds

City Center West Orange developer preps CDD to govern Ocoee project, issue bonds
An April 2018 aerial photo showing progress with mass grading, new roads and other infrastructure work at the City Center West Orange project. In this photo, east is at the bottom of the image, with Maine Street running vertically through the center, and the focal Lake Bennett in the middle. (Aerial Innovations)

Park Development Corp. wants to establish a Community Development District (CDD) for the master-planned City Center West Orange project in Ocoee, which would provide the autonomy of a local government and a low-cost route to raise funds.

CDDs can issue tax-free municipal bonds to finance the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. The cost of water, electrical and telecom lines, roadways, stormwater management, landscaping, signalization, water features, public parking, related builder fees and soft costs for City Center West Orange (CCWO) were estimated at more than $118.89 million in a recent application to the city.


That money would be paid back to bondholders over time by property owners within the boundary, via future annual tax bills.

Lead developer David Townsend has an ordinance going before Ocoee's City Commission on Tuesday to establish the Florida Real Estate Regional Center (FRERC) CDD. The name is a nod to Park Development's affiliate EB5 Florida Real Estate Regional Center, which is USCIS-approved for EB-5 foreign investments and can raise $100 million for the Ocoee project.

Boca Raton-based Wrathell, Hunt and Associates provided a report of estimated regulatory costs to the city to support the CDD request.

The CDD would cover approximately 97.4 acres in Ocoee that make up planned phases of CCWO, generally bounded by S. Bluford Avenue to the west, W. Colonial Drive and Lake Bennett to the south, and land north and south of Maine Street.

The master-planned CCWO community is projected to contain 823,000 square feet of commercial space, 2,600 residential units and 244 hotel rooms, per the filing.

After being built, the city would maintain and own most of the utility infrastructure, except for water features and structured parking which the CDD would retain.

A CDD can only be established when 100 percent of land owners within the boundary consent, which in this case was easy because Townsend controls nearly all the affiliate land owners that make up the development.

CCWO's first phase of 15 acres, originally projected to open in 2019 but now likely delayed, has been marketed to include two buildings of up to eight stories each with structured parking, a combined 500 condo units, more than 200,000 square feet of retail space and a 122-room hotel.

Phase 1 roads and top-coat asphalt were finished earlier this year, dewatering activity was underway on the lake and construction of a prefabricated Con/Span boardwalk along the waterfront was supposed to follow over the past six months.

"Site work is moving along. The CDD discussion and approval process will slow things down some until that gets resolved, and then the contractor will be on site in full capacity," said city planner Michael Rumer.

Townsend and his Park Development team did not respond to multiple requests for comment over the past week.

CDDs are governed by a five-member board of supervisors, which then employs a district manager and adopts an annual budget. While in the beginning the board is made up of appointees by the main landowner, over time as more people buy homes in CCWO they will take over and run the CDD.

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