Regulating Plan for Tavistock's Sunbridge in Orange to be four times 'The Grow' area

Orange County planners and approval boards will spend the next seven-and-a-half months reviewing Tavistock Development Company's Comprehensive Plan amendment and a Regulating Plan (RP) for 4,787 gross acres in the county's southeast, where more than a decade of mixed-use development could be rolled out. 

It will be Orange planners' second massive Regulating Plan to review from a private developer after cutting their teeth on "The Grow" RP in recent months -- though Tavistock's property will be more than four times the size. 

Dubbed "Sunbridge," the phased development will span 37 square miles of southeast Orange and northeast Osceola counties, the Orlando Sentinel first reported Monday morning. 

The 3,094 net developable acres in Orange will serve as the first phase of a 24,000-acre development, planned with the Mormon Church for portions of its ranch land in both counties. The property surrounds environmentally sensitive areas like the state-owned Split Oak Forest and Isle of Pine Preserve.

"The key is Tavistock's philosophy of responsible, long-term sustainable development, and in this particular community conservation will play an essential role," Robert L. Thompson, vice president of Tavistock, told GrowthSpotter on Monday. "The integration of nature into the program and the conservation network will really set this project apart."

The Orange County plans will include 5,720 single-family homes, 1,650 multi-family units, 490 hotels rooms and 9 million square feet of non-residential space, broken down as 5.47 million square feet of office, 2.9 million square feet of industrial and about 880,000 square feet of retail, Thompson said.

Once the plan is approved, construction could begin in Orange County in 2018, Tavistock forecasts. About 1,700 acres in Orange will be preserved area. 

"The challenge for everyone on a project this large is figuring a way to manage development over the length of time it will take a project like this to happen," said Blake Drury, director of master planning for the Orlando-based Community Solutions Group at GAI Consultants, which served as master planners for Tavistock on the project. 

"In the planning, we looked at other large-scale communities to see not necessarily what they built, but how the thinking could work for a project that’s this large in scale, and could take a long time to build out."

REVIEW TIMELINE
Lake Nona developer Tavistock and Mormon Church land owner affiliate Suburban Land Reserve signed a Memorandum of Master Development and Purchase Agreement back in May 2015 for the Orange and Osceola properties, according to county records.

After a year of conceptual talks with Orange County staff, Tavistock held a formal pre-app meeting with planners in early February.

On Monday, the company filed for amendments to the county's Comprehensive Plan to establish Sunbridge, along with a rough draft Regulating Plan of more than 400 pages. 

Like the I-Drive Vision Plan, and more recently Dwight Saathoff's "The Grow" at Lake Pickett South, Tavistock's project will be reviewed with a transect-based approach to zoning.

Transect is a key tenet of smart growth movements that blends uses and densities, in contrast to modern Euclidean zoning for suburban development that dedicates large areas to a single use.

This will come via a Regulating Plan, which will detail -- at a more granular level than traditional zoning -- rules for how every aspect of development takes shape within a project. 

Orange staff will spend the next few days conducting a sufficiency review of the package. The plan includes the existing International Corporate Park (ICP) Development of Regional Impact (DRI), which Tavistock is proposing to rescind. 

The 4,787 acres in Orange County flow through areas now known as International Corporate Park and Innovation Way East. The property straddles S.R. 528 (Beachline Expressway), and will include future extensions of Dowden Road and Innovation Way.   

Tavistock should hold its first community meeting for Sunbridge in late April/early May. At the same time, the company will prepare a Planned Development application to file the concurrent zoning.

"To date, we've learned that the need for full community engagement throughout the entire project review period cannot be overstated," said Olan D. Hill, chief planner with Orange County. "Although neither the proposed I-Drive District Overlay Zone or The Grow have yet to be approved, the extent of involvement by area stakeholders and residents on those projects will certainly create a more predictable outcome."

The Sunbridge application will initially include a Conceptual Regulating Plan (CRP) during the Comp Plan transmittal period, and then a final Planned Development Regulating Plan (PD-RP) at the rezoning stage.

Existing Comp Plan policies don't require a concurrent rezoning application, but Tavistock told the county it will submit a PD-RP rezoning later this summer for concurrent consideration by the BCC, said Hill.

Tavistock tentatively expects its Local Planning Agency (LPA) transmittal hearing to be held in mid-May, followed by a Board of County Commissioners (BCC) transmittal hearing in late June.

The LPA, also referred to as the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC), serves as the county's long-range planning advisory board. 

The PD will then be filed on or before the date of the LPA transmittal hearing for the Comp Plan amendment. The hope is for the PD-RP rezoning and adoption of the Comp Plan amendment to come back together for joint review, after a second community meeting is held in August, Thompson said. 

If those steps proceed as expected, Tavistock could get its PD-RP through Orange's Development Review Committee (DRC) by August, and target a September meeting for adoption by the LPA/PZC. Adoption of both the PD-RP zoning and Comp Plan amendment could follow at BCC in October. 

PHASED LAND ACQUISITION
Tavistock will acquire the property in phases from Suburban Land Reserve, affiliate ownership LLC of the Mormon Church, as approvals come in from Orange and Osceola counties, Thompson said.

Development plans for 19,111 acres in Osceola County may be filed in the next six months, he added. Ground could break in 2018 in line with the Orange County portion, depending on the pace of Osceola planning approval. 

"We have a long-term agreement with the (Mormon) church, and will take down the property (through parcel acquisition) as the development progresses," Thompson said. "There's no set timetable for when that will happen, it will be purely market driven." 

COLLABORATION THUS FAR
Meetings with Orange planners over the past six months led to Tavistock having substantial input on the Innovation Way Comprehensive Plan amendments passed the BCC in late January, said Richard Levey, a Tavistock consultant who has worked on Sunbridge's entitlements planning.

"We'll continue meeting with the county to brainstorm with them the details and delivery for the (Regulating Plan) over the next few months," he said. 

Drury of GAI Consultants has been involved in the master planning of top-selling communities in Houston, The Woodlands (28,000 acres) and Bridgeland (11,400 acres). 

"(GAI) created this interdisciplinary team that took a fresh, broad look at design problems from all aspects: economic, social, physical and environmental, and seemed to offer a really fresh look," Levey said. 

Transportation studies were done by Kittelston & Associates, and environmental review by Breedlove, Dennis & Associates

OSCEOLA PHASE
The Osceola County portion of Sunbridge is already in the county’s Urban Growth Boundary. In 2011, the county adopted the Northeast District Element making the ranch’s 19,000-plus acres one of the county’s three mixed-use districts.

The NE District plan entitles the developer for nearly 17,000 single family homes, 12,340 apartments and town homes, and 5,000 hotel rooms. Close to 2 million square feet of “civic space” is reserved throughout the community. That could include parks, community centers, libraries and schools.

The plan includes two major employment centers, with entitlements for 1 million square feet of industrial space and 5.7 million square feet of office space.

An urban center could include up to 790,000 square feet of commercial space, while another million square feet would be spread throughout the various neighborhoods, community centers and office parks.

-- Reporter Karen Talley contributed to this story

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