City leaders approved the first reading of ordinance 19-17 regarding the rezone request for a proposed apartment project known as the Alta Winter Garden Character Area Planned Unit Development.
The project developer, WP South Acquisitions LLC, aims to rezone the 14.87-acre property on the northeast corner of West Crown Point Road and East Plant Street from Arterial Commercial District to Character Area Planned Unit Development.
The rezoning would allow the developer’s plan to construct five three-story buildings hosting 250 apartment units. WP South Acquisitions also plans to develop two acres of land located west of the train tracks as a park and dedicate it to the city.
With a rezoning approval, the developer technically would be allowed to request up to 30 units per acre, but the development plan only calls for 20 units per acre, said Community Development Director Steve Pash. Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer explained that city staff negotiated with the developer to decrease the project’s density.
“The city of Winter Garden is normally very tough on apartments and multi-family,” Bollhoefer said. “At least 30 or more people have approached us regarding apartments in Winter Garden, especially along highway 50, and we have continuously told people, ‘No, we don’t want too many apartments in Winter Garden,’ but we also realize there is a need and a proper location for the right types of apartments. And when this group first came, they were looking at putting in 350 units, and we thought that was too high, so we negotiated and went to 250-plus with the donation of the piece of land on the other side of the tracks to create some green space. We thought it was a good negotiation.
“And we also looked at alternatives for what could be done to that site, and if it wasn’t multi-family, it’d probably be retail on that site, because it’s not really designed for much more,” he said. “So after looking at all those things, we thought that the apartments are a good idea. But we’ll still continue to be very strict and very hard on anyone bringing in multi-family. We don’t believe we should have a lot of multi-family because some communities way overbuild multi-family (developments), which brings down the price. And we’re also comfortable that these are very high-end and high-quality apartments.”
The property also will be developed with eight garage buildings, 400 parking spaces, recreation areas, sidewalks and landscaping, according to city documents. Transportation improvements are also planned for the area, which will be constructed at the same time as the project, Bollhoefer said.
“We do also have some transportation improvements planned there,” he said. “We’ve got the turn lane going right off (State Road) 429, and we’re in the process now of looking at several other options because we have the funding from impact fees but we’re just trying to look at all our options to make sure we get it right the first time when we do those roads.”
The second reading and approval hearing for this rezone request is anticipated to take place during the April 25 City Commission meeting.