Developer w/Reagan Center land under contract seeks more mixed-use entitlements for evolving master plan

A Canadian developer holding the former Flea World property in Sanford under contract is bringing a new conceptual plan before county staff for review, one that's ever-evolving but requires a significant increase in commercial and housing entitlements.

Palmeira Holdings brought the property under contract in late February, with co-founder Karim H. Ismail saying at the time his team envisioned mixed-use for the remaining 110 acres that would feature nature throughout a live/work/play destination.


Located on U.S. 17-92 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard at County Home Road, the "Reagan Center" property lies directly across from the Seminole County Courthouse and Sheriff's Office headquarters, and has been eyed for redevelopment by public officials for years.

Since March, Ismail has worked with local architecture firm HHCP on massing and conceptual plans. They've arrived at a maximum density outline that's prompting Palmeira to ask Seminole County to increase the intensity of entitlements on the property.


"We sat down with HHCP to see how to maximize the density, given that we could do various commercial uses and multifamily but also had to preserve 34 acres of conservation land, build a road through the property from Ronald Reagan Boulevard to U.S. 17-92 that county staff were keen on, as well as water retention and parking requirements," Ismail told GrowthSpotter.

"That allowed us to come up with this maximum density outline, which helps us determine where to place taller buildings and shorter ones by establishing some zones. We'll now be going forward with a submission that has even less density than what is on the conceptual master plan, because we have always wanted a lot of green space there."

Palmeira will have a pre-app meeting on Wednesday with Seminole's Development Review Committee, to discuss a potential Land Use amendment and PD zoning major amendment to increase density and intensity on the site.

The property features about 76.8 upland acres. Established entitlements are flexible, but forecast more than 1.9 million square feet of retail/commercial (43.8 acres) and up to 825 multifamily units (33 acres). The former flea market closed in August 2015 with demolition completed last year.

Palmeira's conceptual master plan, with a working title of "The Reserve: One With Nature," on paper calls for 4 million square feet of commercial and 5,100 varied types of multifamily units.

But those estimates are already outdated, Ismail said Tuesday.

He now anticipates asking for 2.25 million square feet of commercial density, of which 1.4 million would be earmarked for office towers and the balance divvied up for retail, senior living, hotel or similar uses that would be assigned later as market demand surfaces.

The multifamily entitlements sought are also being scaled back to 4,800, he added. Part of those could be student housing to serve the nearby Seminole State College, but Ismail said his team has yet to even consult with college administrators and determine their need.


"We don't know exactly what that breakdown of uses may be," Ismail said. "We have estimates, and have reduced the office space substantially from the 4 million listed on that concept master plan to free up more internal green space."

For now, the conceptual master plan is just an outline. Prospective layout and height of buildings is likely to change based on county staff feedback, and demand from prospective lot buyers.

Maximum height sought for apartment buildings could be 12 stories, but multifamily developers are likely to go shorter in this suburban market. On the commercial side, Ismail said he may seek an 18-story maximum for office buildings, but future massing will determine if a tower of that height is needed, or even includes structured parking.

Looking forward, if a density increase is approved Palmeira is more than likely to sell off many of the property's pads for third-party development, and hold others for a role as master developer, Ismail said.

Paul Partyka of The Partyka Group has served as listing agent for land owner 17-92 Five Points LLC, an affiliate of former Orlando businessman Sydney Levy, who died in January at age 88. Closing on the land by Palmeira is anticipated for late this year, pending permitting requests.

Lebanon-based Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture has contributed since March to designing the property's relationship between wetland and development. SK Corsortium is civil engineer on the density planning request.


Ismail is the founder of BlueprintPAL, a business planning and leadership consultancy, and a former vice president of facilities development at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital where he played a role in master planning.

He co-founded Palmeira Holdings in Orlando last year with a Florida-based broker and partner Seema Kara to begin developing commercial real estate. While new to Florida CRE, Palmeira's seven-person executive team claims more than 90 years of experience in real estate, engineering, hotels and related financing.

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