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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jun. 7, 2018 10 months ago

Developer nixes plans for memory-care facility in Winter Park

Villa Tuscany Holdings LLC is now proposing to build four single-family homes at 1298 Howell Branch Road.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

A property that was once the potential site of a controversial proposed memory care facility might be subdivided, making way for four single-family homes.

The Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board approved the changes during its Tuesday, June 5, meeting, although the final vote still needs to go before the City Commission.

Property owner Villa Tuscany Holdings LLC previously proposed a memory care facility for the property at 1298 Howell Branch Road, but residents expressed concerns with incoming traffic from medical care providers and visitors. Locals also believed the facility was incompatible with the nearby neighborhoods.

After several iterations of that project were presented and sent back for adjustments because of  scale and variances, Villa Tuscany Holdings LLC opted to subdivide the property instead to make way for four single-family homes.

“Obviously in terms of traffic generation, even the memory care was significantly less in terms of the use,” Winter Park Planning Manager Jeff Briggs said. “This is even further reduced in terms of the number of trips that will be generated. This, I believe, is a good outcome for the controversy that has involved this property in the past. We’re not getting multi-family R-3 development; we’re getting single-family homes.” 

The subdivision of the lot came as a relief to local residents, who preferred to see the single-family homes to the originally proposed memory-care facility.

“This is the kind of development that Winter Park wants,” Sally Flynn said. “There are no variances asked for and even better than that, they’re upgrading what needs to be upgraded. I applaud you, and I hope we have many more of these come before the city.”

“We’re also very pleased that it’s not going to be a memory-care facility, and we’d be very welcoming to having houses in the neighborhood,” Barry Render said.

But did a memory-care facility provide a service the area needed? Some locals said that was the case back in 2016, when the project was first brought forward.

“It’s an emergency,” Maitland resident Amy O’Rourke, the founder of Cameron Group Aging Life Care Services, told the City Commission in 2016. “I’ve helped 17,000 older people over 17 years, and every single week I’m telling people, ‘No, there is no facility in Winter Park. We’ll have to send you to Lake Nona or Winter Springs.’ I and my staff listen to that week after week after week. It’s a need.”

Fairbanks project comes to fruition

A project for a new medical office building on a formerly city-owned piece of land has taken another step forward.

Winter Park’s Planning and Zoning Board gave approval on the final building elevations for the proposed medical office building set for 1111 W. Fairbanks Ave. 

That piece of land just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Park belonged to the city of Winter Park until City Commissioners voted to sell it at their Monday, March 26, meeting.

The majority of the City Commission believed selling the property made sense.

“We used money out of our reserves to buy this property, so I look at it as an asset that was part of our reserves,” City Commissioner Greg Seidel said in March. “If someone can give me the money to replace it and purchase the property … the money has to come from somewhere. Do I see this being a major part of connectivity of green space in Winter Park? Not at the corner of Fairbanks. Where are you going to tie into?”

Many residents spoke out against the sale, believing the land could be eventually turned into park space.

Verax Investments LLC purchased the property for $3.5 million — higher than the land’s appraised value of $2.96 million.

The property, the former site of the Bowl America, was purchased originally by the city from Rollins College. It was put up for a notice of disposal by the city last year, opening up a process where potential buyers can make offers.



Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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