Winter Park may get affordable workforce housing after the City Commission approved a three-year economic development plan at Monday’s meeting.
And another McDonald’s restaurant is slated to come to Winter Park after the Commission approved a zoning change that would allow an office property to turn commercial fronting Fairbanks Avenue.
More affordable housing could find its way near the downtown area if an economic development plan pans out. Economic Development Director Dori DeBord presented a three-year plan at the Commission meeting Monday that saw the Commission struggling to reach consensus on multiple amendments.
An amendment that would look into adding more workforce housing to the city was approved by a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Steven Leary and Sarah Sprinkel dissenting.
DeBord said that more workforce housing would help city employees afford to live in the city.
“Workforce housing applies to folks like me and you, firefighters, police officers, people we rely on every day,” she said.
Mayor Ken Bradley said it’s important for more employees to be able to live in the city in which they work.
“The last time I checked, I think only two or three firefighters and two or three police (officers) live in the city,” Bradley. “I think that’s a concern of affordability and being able to find housing in our city. I think we should be a place where they can not only work but also live.”
Leary said he’s in favor of having more city employees living within the city, but didn’t approve of the wording of an amendment made by Cooper.
“I like that, having the staff members live in town,” Leary said. “I want them to live close.
With some people on the Commission in previous years, staff may not have been considered when they talk about people who contribute to the character of Winter Park. I think they do. If I could have more staff living downtown, I think that’s a bonus.”
Where commissioners most disagreed was on the location of where workforce housing would be built. Part of an amendment that stipulated it be built downtown was shot down.
DeBord said that in the first year of the three-year economic development plan, city staff would study whether the city needed more workforce housing and then look into partnering with companies to get it built.
An army of lawyers filled Winter Park’s Commission Chamber on Monday to try to convince the Commission to allow a zoning change to two properties at 1289 and 1301 Gene St., which span the block between Gene and Fairbanks Avenue. That could set the stage for a McDonald’s restaurant moving in.
Attorney Rebecca Wilson, representing Bank First, said they are already two-thirds zoned commercial.
“We’re not trying to introduce a new use to this property,” she said. “We’re just trying to make the property consistent.”
The Commission voted 4-1 to allow the change on first reading. It will come back to the Commission for second reading at the Aug. 8 meeting. If approved, it will precipitate a two- to three-month process of vetting the building plans and getting final approval from the Planning and Zoning Board and City Commission.
Leary said he’s hoping that the process works out quickly for the restaurant.
“It made complete sense,” he said. “It’s just surrounded by commercial. Four of the six parcels that were assembled were commercial. It’s like what happened with the Ravenous Pig. You see one successful opportunity and hope it’s a domino effect.”