For a second time, commissioners have postponed the vote on the city’s sale of the property at 109 S. Boyd St. to Tremaine Boyd LLC.
Tremaine Boyd LLC hopes to develop the downtown Winter Garden property into a three story mixed-use development, with the first floor being commercial space and the second and third floor becoming 22 apartment units. Rent would begin at about $1,000.
Because of the city’s belief that the apartments will ultimately benefit the city of Winter Garden, city staff recommends the sale of the property for $152,000, waiving $174,177 in transportation impact fees and $235,484 in other fees.
At the last meeting, commissioners postponed the meeting over the concern about the amount of taxpayer money that was being waived for the project.
This week, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer gave a presentation reiterating how vital he believes apartments would be to the downtown area.
“As a city, we’ve always been willing to invest in our downtown and invest with the belief that once the public investment goes in, the private investment will follow,” Bollhoefer said.
In the past, Winter Garden invested more than $30 million worth of public funds into the downtown for various projects, Bollhoefer said.
Since 2013, property values downtown have increased significantly. For example, Purple Cow Productions property value increased by 69%, noted Planning Consultant Ed Williams.
Commissioner Bobby Olszewski, who spoke against the sale last meeting out of concern for the taxpayers, announced his support for the project.
“I just look at my role as a commissioner to be a watchdog for the people of Winter Garden…
“After working with the outstanding city staff, I am confident that the people of Winter Garden are going to get a return on their investment with this project. We did all the right things, We noticed this project, got qualified bidders to come in and we did have one that came in, so I definitely will be supporting this project.” Olszewski said.
Commissioner Colin Sharman made the motion to postpone the vote, hoping to address the concerns of some of the residents in his district.
“Since Commissioner Olszewski said what he said so eloquently in the last meeting, being concerned for the taxpayer’s dollar, I’ve gotten several emails and phone calls on this,” Commissioner Colin Sharman said. “I appreciate the presentation tonight. I feel like I need to at least go back to the people who called me, go over the documents and materials, go over that with them and get their feedback.”
Commissioners voted 4-1 to postpone the vote, with Commissioner Bob Buchanan voting against the postponement, not wanting to waste Tremaine Boyd LLC’s time and money.
“Everyday we make the developer wait to start this project, it costs them that much more money,” he said.
IN OTHER NEWS
Commissioners approved the first reading of regarding a moratorium on medical marijuana activities in the city of Winter Garden, excluding activities that have prior approval for the city or where City regulation is preempted by Florida law.
In November, Florida voters will see the “Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative” on their ballots. If voted in, Department of Health will regulate centers that produce medical marijuana.
The passage of the initiative and previous legislation raises “substantial questions regarding the impact of Medical Cannabis Activities…upon the public health, safety, and welfare within the City of Winter Garden,” according to the ordinance. Therefore, Winter Garden plans a moratorium on medical marijuana activities while city staff researches potential impacts of medical marijuana.