Seminole’s largest mixed-use project promises sustainability, transit options

The developers of Parkside Place, a proposed 110-acre mixed-use development near Sanford, say they want to create a community with ample green space for healthy recreation and transit options that will reduce residents' reliance on automobiles.

Palmeira Holdings, the Toronto-based developer, envisions a publicly accessible park in the middle of the Parkside Place, walking and biking trails, and a Lynx shuttle that can take residents to a SunRail station, and perhaps to Seminole State College and to Seminole County offices located across U.S. 17-92 from the community.


Even an on-site farmers market may be part of Parkside's future, said Palmeira co-CEO Karim Ismail.

"We see this as being a neighborhood amenity that people can come to and enjoy," Ismail told GrowthSpotter. "They can shop there, they can picnic there. We're also going to have boardwalks and walking trails, so people have access to conservation lands."


On Tuesday, Palmeira cleared a major hurdle in Seminole County's approval process. By unanimous vote, county commissioners approved a future land use amendment that increases density in Parkside's residential component. The development is now entitled to have 5,012 apartment units, compared to just 827 in the original plan.

The developers wanted the higher density to create more customers for the shops, restaurants and offices planned for the development. The final development order OK'd Tuesday allows up to 1,682,876 square feet of office/commercial space. A 250-room hotel and a 312-bed assisted living facility are also part of the mix.

"You can't really get the new urbanism feel for a project with the standard zoning we had," project manager Jon D. Walls told GrowthSpotter.

"In order to create the type of project the developer envisions, the density needed to be increased to create a larger population in the area that would utilize and create demand in the shops and other businesses," said Walls, who is also development services director with NAI Realvest Consulting.

But the higher density, accomplished by building taller apartment buildings, also allows the developers to set aside more land for green space, Ismail said. The county had wanted a 25 percent green space commitment; Palmeira has now agreed to keep 30 percent of the property undeveloped.

"We're envisioning apartment buildings that will go six, eight or 10 floors high," Ismail said. "Being able to go higher than you would see in the traditional three- or four-story walk-ups, we're able to keep more open space available."

The huge increase in density was worked out in negotiations between the county and Palmeira Holdings. At the county's request, the developers agreed to strategies to reduce parking in the community by providing locations and measures to promote car, ride and bike sharing. They also agreed to designate a transit parking bay for the LYNX shuttle service and to educate residents about the programs LYNX offers including car and van pools, ride share and fixed route bus service.

"What we want to create is a live, work, shop and play community that reduces the need for people to have cars," Ismail said. "We have a commitment to transit built right into the deal. We're very serious about bringing the level of car ownership as low as we can."


The developers also agreed to perform a multi-modal pedestrian traffic study before beginning the second phase of apartment and commercial construction. The study would determine whether there is a need to provide transit between Parkside Place and Seminole State College and the Seminole County Government Five Points Complex. If the need is there, the developer is to provide supplemental shuttle services above those provided by other entities.

"We were able to incorporate some tactics and strategies on the property that county staff would like to see in future developments," Walls, the project manager, said.

The 5,012 apartment units that Parkside is now entitled to will include 752 units for student housing and 184 units for independent living.

The development order also calls for a minimum of 15 percent of the total multifamily residential units be set aside for workforce housing. Up to 5 percent of that 15 percent will be allocated for moderate income   households with incomes at or below 140 percent of the area median income.

Now that the property is fully entitled, the next stage will be to develop and win county approval for the final development plan, which will include a detailed engineering layout of roads and development parcels, as well as a conceptual plan of what the different buildings will be. Walls said planning for the final plan will take six to nine months minimum.

"Construction could be started by the end of next year," Walls said. "But the final development plan could start now and be done by December (2019)."


Ismail said the entire development could take 10 to 12 years to complete. Palmeira has the 110 acres, formally home to the Flea World market, under contract.

The civil engineer consultant on the project is SK Consortium. HHCP Architects are handling conceptual planning. Hal Kantor, attorney for Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed P.A. handled negotiations with the county.

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