Downtown Winter Garden will grow with the sale of another property.
The Winter Garden City Commission approved the sale of the property at 270 W. Plant St. to Crazy Plant Holdings LLC at its July 25 meeting for the price of $423,000.
According to city documents, plans for the .19-acre property include the construction of a 45,000-square-foot, three-story structure, designed to look like three distinct, but connected, buildings. The first floor, which spans just more than 15,000 square feet, will be split — half for retail and half for restaurant use. The second and third floors will provide 30,606 square feet of office space.
“Our goal is always to ensure that the architecture complements the historical architecture and doesn’t copy it,” City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said. “It’s very important not to lose our character and charm.”
The property is located across from the American Legion and next to City Hall in historic downtown Winter Garden. The building will be located diagonally to the property recently sold by the city for the development of a 60-room boutique hotel. Bollhoefer said the contract for this property is very similar and even modeled after the contract for the hotel.
“But the key thing we need for the city of Winter Garden for our long-term viability, we believe… is to have some larger office space so we can target some of the middle-sized corporate headquarters,” Bollhoefer said.
Bollhoefer added that the city has been aiming to get more office space and retail into the downtown area to increase foot traffic for all of the businesses. He also pointed out that the people who work in the office spaces will become customers to other downtown businesses.
“There’s a critical mass you need in a downtown to attract more people,” Bollhoefer said. “Many people think we have a lot of foot traffic — we really still do not have enough foot traffic to support a large retail business.”
The city also set aside an adjacent piece of land to create a green space next to the splash pad, creating a park and a “gateway” to the farmers market pavilion. Bollhoefer said it will not take away from the farmers market, but enhance it, with the restaurant in the building activating the streets in that direction, making it more pedestrian-friendly and adding more green space to the downtown area.
Commissioners approved $48,000 to fix stormwater issues plaguing residents of a subdivision off of Hennis Road.
Bollhoefer said residents are experiencing flooding issues in the subdivision between Hennis Road and Glenview Drive, where the stormwater swales have not been maintained.
“One thing that has happened is people have built swimming pools and they’ve eliminated swales — people have put fences in swale areas,” Bollhoefer said. “There’s some fault on our part — our staff has gone out and actually approved permits for fences, not verifying how they’re affecting the swale system.”
He said city staff will have to go in and adjust fences to repair the infrastructure to help the water travel to the nearby pond.
Bollhoefer said the city will increase inspections moving forward for permits to build pools, fences and other structures.