Tavistock's Sunbridge passes first step of Orange Comp Plan amendment

Tavistock Development Company took its first step Thursday to amend Orange County's Future Land Use Map (FLUM) for a 4,787-acre portion of its proposed Sunbridge community, with another four steps of county and state approval that lie ahead over the coming year.  

What passed Thursday was a recommendation by the Local Planning AGency (LPA) to transmit the "out-of-cycle" amendment to the FLUM and Comprehensive Plan for Sunbridge. The LPA (also known as the Planning and Zoning Commission) serves as the county's long-range planning advisory board.

Back in late March, Tavistock filed its Comprehensive Plan amendment, along with a "Conceptual Regulating Plan" (CRP) for 4,787 acres in the county's southeast, where more than a decade of mixed-use development could be rolled out. It would be the northern half of Sunbridge, a phased community to span 37 square miles of Orange and northeast Osceola County, covering 24,000 acres of Mormon Church ranch land. 

Thursday's LPA hearing will be followed by a Board of County Commissioners (BCC) transmittal hearing on June 28. The Comp Plan amendments then go to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), with their review and comments expected by August. 

It then returns to Orange County's LPA for an adoption public hearing tentatively scheduled for Sept. 15, followed by the BCC in October. If no challenges are raised in October, the Comp Plan amendment should become effective by December of this year. 

PHASED BUILDOUT
While the Comprehensive Plan amendment submitted for Sunbridge includes the entire buildout program of entitlements for Tavistock's future 4,787 acres in Orange, the developer will phase in that construction slowly.

Roughly 10-20 percent of the entitlements, primarily residential, will be the focus of Phase 1 when construction starts in 2018, said Robert L. Thompson, vice president of Tavistock.

"With any truly great place you must first have the people to make up the community, and to have jobs in that place you have to have people there to draw companies," he told GrowthSpotter on Thursday. "From Day 1, we're focused on the economic development of Sunbridge to draw in high-value jobs. That starts with residential." 

Tavistock won't begin any work on the Sunbridge land until it receives final approval on its rezoning from Orange County next year, Thompson said. 

The only development Tavistock expects to begin in that area ahead of Sunbridge is construction on the Innovation Way interchange, which will relocate the Innovation Way exit on S.R. 528 one mile to the west, offering a more direct north-south connection. This exit will lie directly north of the bulk of Sunbridge property. 

Construction on that interchange is expected to start by this July, said Richard Levey, a Tavistock consultant who has worked on Sunbridge's entitlements planning. If that happens, he believes the interchange is finished by mid-2018, when Tavistock would start building model homes on the property. 

Tavistock's plan for a north-south road that it would build between its Orange and Osceola portions of Sunbridge will be a two-lane rural highway, which would have at least a half-mile buffer on either side to homes in the Lake Mary Jane rural settlement, Levey said. With a potential name of Sunbridge Parkway, Tavistock hopes to place bike paths alongside the road.

REGULATING PLAN BREAKDOWN
While Tavistock's FLUM/Comp Plan amendment is being transmitted through county and state approval by the end of this year, Tavistock will also be submitting a rezoning application for the property to Orange County. It's called the Innovation Way Planned Development Regulating Plan (IW-PD-RP). 

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 comes via a " Final Regulating Plan" (FRP), which will detail -- at a more granular level than traditional zoning -- rules for how every aspect of development takes shape within a project.

Existing Comprehensive Plan policies don't require a concurrent rezoning application, but Tavistock could submit its PD-RP rezoning this summer to the county, saving time and potentially setting it up to run alongside the Comp Plan amendment for concurrent consideration by BCC in the late Fall. 

Levey said Thursday that the FRP should be submitted shortly. That choice to get the FRP rezoning application in soon is expected, said Olan Hill, chief planner for Orange County Planning Division.

Tavistock has indicated that its contracts for purchase of the Mormon Church affiliate's land require it has zoning and entitlements in place by end of the year, Hill said. The main advantage of running a rezoning application concurrent with Comp Plan amendment is to minimize the number of hearings and exposure to county board review, he added.   

TRANSECT ZONES TAKE SHAPE
A version of Tavistock's CRP updated in April offers further insight into how the 4,787 acres in Orange County may be broken down in its development program. 

The single-family residential (5,720 dwelling units) may occupy 1,688.6 acres, and multi-family residential (1,650 DUs) will take 69.9 acres, together totaling 1,758.5 acres for housing.

Employment/office space (5.47 million square feet) is currently reserved for 459.6 acres, while retail/commercial (880,000 SF) would cover 48.9 acres. 

Industrial space (2.9 million SF) would cover 273 acres, hospitality (490 rooms) is set for 14.8 acres, and civic space has about 103.7 acres reserved. 

At this point, the RP involves four transect zones that vary in housing density and business use. The periphery of the property would remain more rural, and two T5/T4 zones would feature denser development around commerce centers.  

COMPATIBILITY
A key requirement when considering a FLUM amendment is compatibility with existing and expected development on surrounding land. 

The Sunbridge property is currently surrounded by land used for cattle grazing, but much of that has had new development proposals pass through Orange County and City of Orlando recently.

Earlier this year, the city annexed property for the 2,559-acre Starwood project that's planned for 6,400 homes and supporting commercial. And neighboring land pegged for the Camino Royale project received a FLUM amendment approval from the county for up to 3,000 homes. 

Those examples illustrate a transition the area is undergoing from rural to a planned urban character, county planners wrote in their report, which supports the FLUM amendment. 

Orange County Public Schools has requested that two middle school and one elementary school sites be reserved on the Sunbridge property. A Capacity Enhancement Agreement (CEA) will be required between Tavistock and OCPS. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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