Dr. Phillips expanding Packing District, revising development plan

Dr. Phillips Charities has filed an formal development plan for the Packing District (yellow). The parcels marked by red stars would be added to the district. The industrial buildings outlined with dotted lines are recommended for adaptive reuse.

Dr. Phillips Charities has filed plans with the City of Orlando to formally change the name of its ambitious mixed-use district west of College Park to "The Packing District" and has identified more than a dozen industrial buildings that could be converted for other uses.

Dr. Phillips President Ken Robinson filed a formal Planned Development amendment that also expands the boundaries of its existing Princeton Commerce Center PD by adding two parcels with a combined 18 acres. He told GrowthSpotter the PD amendment largely codifies the concepts that have been in the planning stages for the last several years.


"We continue to work with city and planners to make certain what we're creating benefits the community long term and is something the city and Dr. Phillips can be proud of," he said.

The amended and restated PD, now formally known as the Packing District PD, is slated to go to the city's Municipal Planning Board in November.


The additions include 4.9 acres of vacant land at 1625 W. Princeton St., along the railroad tracks, and the 13 acres the charity will retain within the Keybank land that is currently in development for a new city park and tennis center.

Robinson said the smaller parcel was the site of the citrus baron's original packing house. It was sold and later reacquired by the organization and is viewed as a primary candidate for a grocery-anchored retail center.

The anchor could front on either Princeton or Orange Blossom Trail, but the idea is that it would have an urban form. "We want to create density directly on the street so you're not looking at a parking lot," he said.

Robinson said the charity is in discussions with the Orlando YMCA to build a community center on the Keybank parcel. The developer wants to complement that with fee-simple townhomes.

"We think townhomes there are really important," he said. "We would like long-term vested ownership because then those residents become the caretakers of the park."

Dr. Phillips announced its plans late last year while also reaching a development agreement with the city for infrastructure improvements and donating 100 acres for the new park/tennis center.

Orange Blossom Trail/ U.S. 441 would be rebuilt within the district as a divided four-lane boulevard with landscaped medians, parallel parking, sidewalks and a bike trail.

The project narrative describes the overall goal: To develop a unique, eclectic, and vibrant mixed-use environment that pays homage to the industrial heritage of the district and the community legacy of Dr. Phillips.

The PD amendment would eliminate the three subdistricts that were created when the property originally was annexed into the city in 1996. It also would allow residential uses in what is now an industrial area - a critical factor for encouraging the adaptive reuse of Dr. Phillips' historic buildings.


"Since the redevelopment will ultimately include residential on land within the Industrial Park Property as well, we propose that the three sub-districts be done away with and replaced with a PD Land Use Framework Map," the application reads.

Residential uses would be allowed throughout the district with no minimum density requirements. The maximum density for the entire district would be 79 dwelling units per acre, which is less than the 100 units/acre required for urban activity center land uses designation. Individual multifamily projects could be permitted with up to 200 units per acre, as long as they don't affect the maximum density for the balance of the district.

"The biggest thing in the amendment is the ability to take multifamily and housing west of Diversified (Way)," Robinson said. "Before, the annexation agreement didn't allow those uses in the industrial park. It doesn't change the number of units entitled for the district, it just spreads them more evenly."

The plan identifies more than a dozen industrial buildings and sites as having potential for adaptive reuse but does not mandate the conversion. Robinson said they picked the buildings that reflected the area's history and "that had the most personality."

They also considered the functionality for adaptive reuse of the industrial buildings, such a converting the 22,000-square-foot "Southern Box" building at the southeast corner of Princeton and Orange Blossom Trail into a food hall.

Dr. Phillips Charities is shortlisting design firms to convert the former "Southern Box" building into a 22,000-square-foot food hall.

The charity is currently shortlisting design firms for the food hall.


"That's going to be one of the focal buildings in the district," Robinson said. "It's going to be built in the early phase. We would ideally like to see it come on board by the end of 2020."

The PD amendment also includes a set of design standards outlining building permitted uses, building form, densities, and buffering requirements to minimize conflicts between existing industrial uses and new residential/mixed-use in the district.

"This is a long-term project, and right now there's very light industrial -- and those are important tenants to Dr. Phillips," Robinson said. "We want to maintain those relationships."

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