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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 7 months ago

Commission approves amendment to Ocoee Town Shops PUD

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Changes include revising the location for stormwater and changing the size and use of one of the buildings.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

City leaders at the Feb. 19 commission meeting approved some changes to the Ocoee Town Shops Planned Unit Development.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an amendment that changes the design of one of the buildings of the development and moves the location of where stormwater will be stored.

The  a 3.39-acre  Ocoee Town Shops development located at the northwest corner of Clarke Road and West Colonial Drive. Plans for the development calls for a mix of uses such as retail, commercial , restaurant, drive-thru restaurants, medical offices and financial services. The plans propose three commercial lots with three, one-story structures with a gross floor area totaling 30,443 square feet. The square footage is allocates for 16,358 square feet of commercial,  9,585 feet of restaurant and 4,500 square feet of financial services/commercial/drive-thru restaurant.

“This (development) goes back to 2009 when planning and developing approved (what’s going) on this property,” City Planner Mike Rumer said, adding that one of the buildings of the development was required to be a standalone restaurant space. “We had brokers working on this (property). … Then it did get under contract by a developer, he had a groundbreaking, he cleared it and then walked away. The same property-owner — (who’s been there) the whole time — he is now wanting to develop. He’s had some success developing some other properties.”

The amendment makes some changes the PUD land-use plan and proposes a reduction to the overall building square footage from 30,443 to 27,750. The reduction accommodates a revision to lot one of the development, which was approved for the 9,585 square feet of restaurant space. The revision made to this space changes the use from a restaurant building to 15,750 square-feet of strip retail/restaurant building. Additionally, the amendment also moves the stormwater from under the parking lot to a retention pond.

Rumer commented at the meeting on a need for more sit-down restaurants in the city of Ocoee. The 9,585 square-foot restaurant building — which originally was divided into two separate suites — was meant to attract sit-down restaurants to the city.

Although the new plans designate the building as restaurant and retail, the two end caps of the buildings will include patio spaces for outdoor dining. The reserved patio spaces are included in the new plans in an effort to attract restaurants to come to the city, Rumer said.

“The owner being involved all the way through the process understands how dearly important it is to us to try and get a restaurant (in Ocoee),” Rumer said. “We’ve seen how the restaurant trends have changed. … In his (owner’s) plan for this building, he’s put wrap-around porches on the end caps to try to entice restaurants to use those (spaces).”

Bill Hockensmith is a senior project manager for Florida Engineering Group and has been involved with the project for about six years. He said the property was cleared in 2017 when a developer showed interest in developing the property, but it never moved forward after the property was cleared.

“We had contract in 2017 to sell it,” Hockensmith said. “That’s when it (was) cleared and the sale fell through.”

Hockensmith added that multiple attempts were made to market the restaurant space to try and attract a quality restaurant to Ocoee, however, the attempts have been unsuccessful. Although a change is being requested, they owner is still interested in attracting restaurants to the development.

“We tried to get you a 9,000-square foot restaurant and it just hasn’t happened,” Hockensmith said. “We’re still committed to putting a quality restaurant on this corner, if that’s possible.”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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