A two-story office building project that has caused concern among residents along U.S. 17-92 is headed back to the drawing board.
A proposal off U.S. 17-92 for a two-story office building and a parking lot near residential homes in Winter Park will need some potential tweaks and changes before it can become a reality.
Winter Park city commissioners will have to wait a bit longer to cast a vote on the project, a result of developer V3 Capital Group LLC pulling their request from the agenda at the Monday, March 25, meeting. The item was pulled after nearby residents raised concerns about the size of the building and the project bringing in additional cut-through traffic.
The 30,000-square-foot building would sit along Gay Road on a cluster of four lots — two of which would be rezoned from residential (R-3) to office (O-2) to match the other two lots. Qualms with the project focused primarily on the 104-space parking lot, because it would connect Gay Road and Trovillion Avenue to the south.
Residents said the configuration would create that unwanted route for more cut-through traffic within the residential area as drivers try to avoid the intersection of Lee Road and U.S. 17-92.
A cut-through route already exists along Trovillion going behind the ABC Fine Wine & Spirits — a passage used heavily by drivers to avoid the traffic.
“We’re a quiet, small neighborhood, and I think a lot of you appreciate that already,” resident Anne-Marie Burns said. “If we have this much building going on, I just want to know what we’re getting into, because we’re going to have a lot of problems.”
Commissioners reminded residents that, under the city’s current codes, a residential project of a much larger size could be built on the two residential lots. Winter Park Senior Planner Allison McGillis said the R-3 zoning portion of the site could yield up to 22 residential unites with a maximum building size of more than 60,000 square feet and that the O-2 portion of the site could yield up to 8,000 square feet of office. It all adds up to more than double the square footage of the proposed project, McGillis said.
A traffic analysis submitted by the developer revealed there would be 302 net new daily trips from the project, but that the traffic is not expected to adversely impact the current traffic operations.
The office building project may be a much more appealing use than what could be built there otherwise, Mayor Steve Leary said.
“If this project is not moved forward and what can be allowed to be built is there, it would increase density, and it’s totally legal, and it’s totally legit under the comp plan,” Leary said.
Trey Vick, of V3 Capital Group LLC, decided to pull the item off the agenda and said his team will continue to communicate with residents to find a compromise, adding that the connection between Gay Road and Trovillion Avenue through the parking lot could possibly be removed.
FRDAP GRANT ISSUE RESOLVED
City Manager Randy Knight told the commission that an issue between the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection — regarding violating the terms of a FRDAP grant — has been resolved.
The resolution was agreed upon following FDEP warning the city of violating the terms of a $100,000 FRDAP grant acquired in 1994 to improve Martin Luther King Jr. Park — the green space that soon will contain the city’s new $30 million Winter Park Canopy project.
That grant — which helped pay for dredging the lake at the center of the park, adding playing fields and establishing walking trails — was under the condition that the park would remain outdoor recreational space, according to a letter sent by FDEP to the city Wednesday, Jan. 16.
That letter from the FDEP states that building a project that expands beyond the footprint of the existing Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center — a building that was grandfathered in with the 1994 grant and set be demolished to make way for the Winter Park Canopy — would encroach into the park land that falls under the grant and violate the terms.
According to a new letter from FDEP dated March 15, the city and the department have agreed on new boundaries within the park that define that northwest corner of the park as “non-outdoor recreational” and the rest of the park as “outdoor recreational.”
In exchange for this change, the city has agreed to dedicate a recently acquired piece of property at 2917 Temple Trail — next to the acquired Howell Branch Preserve — as “outdoor recreational.”
Other conditions include that the city will use pervious parking wherever possible with the Winter Park Canopy project. The city may also proceed with its plan to add parking south of the existing parking lot, according to the letter.