Unicorp National Developments won initial approval on Wednesday to rezone 117 acres that it plans to buy and develop in southwest Orange County into the Westside Shoppes shopping center, along with a mix of apartments, townhomes, single-family homes and a middle school.
Located at the corner of Winter Garden Vineland Road and Reams Road in the county's Horizons West master-planned community, Westside Shoppes will be a new 70,700-square-foot neighborhood retail complex that will be developed side by side with Venetian Isle Apartments. Venetian Isles will feature 302 apartment units and 44 single-family attached townhomes.
To the west of the apartments and townhomes, Unicorp will dedicate about 30 acres of the property to Orange County for future construction of a middle school.
To the west of that site, national homebuilder Meritage Homes will buy roughly 30 acres that remain to build 151 single-family homes, said Chuck Whittall, Unicorp CEO.
Soloman Cove Drive, currently a dead-end street to the west of the future single-family neighborhood, will be connected to the development.
The 117 total acres, known as North of Albert's, was recommended for approval by the county's Development Review Committee on Wednesday to rezone from A-1 to Planned Development (PD). It is currently owned by Fran Pignone, a former county commissioner.
Her sale of the property to Unicorp won't be finalized until after the Planning and Zoning Commission approves re-zoning, and then the Board of County Commissioners approves that decision, which could take another two to three months.
Whittall expects to close the sale by September and break ground on the Westside retail and residential projects in the Fall.
General contractors for both the shopping center and apartment complex had not been chosen by Unicorp yet. Whittall told GrowthSpotter in April that previous collaborator Roger B. Kennedy, Inc., was being considered for the residential project while Scherer Construction of Central Florida may be favored for the retail portion.
At Westside Shoppes, nearly 100 percent of the retail space has now been reserved for tenants, Whittall said. Unicorp has signed or is talking with 15 or more retailers for the development, including Title Boxing, Tijuana Flats, Keke's Breakfast Café, AT&T, Great Clips and Luxury Nails & Day Spa.
Unicorp is developing the project as a joint venture with local firm Project Finance & Development LLC.