Residents in the Lake Buena Vista area could have a shopping center coming their way in the near future, should a proposed project pass two rounds of county review.
That project, known as Lake Buena Vista Springs, would front Winter Garden-Vineland Road and span 6.23 acres. The entire property comprises 84.77 acres and is located west of South Apopka Vineland Road, north of Winter Garden-Vineland Road.
Neighbors gathered with Orange County staff and the project applicant at Windermere High Monday, June 3, to discuss a future land-use map amendment. The applicant wants to change the FLUM designation of 6.23 of the total acreage from rural/agricultural to commercial. This also would require expansion of the county’s Urban Services Area boundary.
The change would allow for the development of up to 25,000 square feet of commercial uses. However, the applicant is also requesting to change the FLUM designations of the site’s remaining 78.54 acres from rural/agricultural and medium density residential to conservation. This would result in a conservation overlay for that portion of the property.
Because the property comprises more than 10 acres, the request is considered a large-scale amendment and requires two rounds of county review, which includes transmittal public hearings followed by adoption hearings.
Attorney Jonathan Huels, who represented the project applicant at the meeting, explained to attendees it is early in the process and there is much more detail to come as the project moves forward.
“(The applicant wants to) take a large bulk acreage and develop what’s on the frontage and for the remainder to go into conservation, in our mind in perpetuity,” he said. “At the end of the day, if it goes as proposed, (more than) 92% of the site would actually be preserved in its current condition with the county holding a conservation easement that would essentially take out all of the development rights.”
The proposal comes on the heels of the closing Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista shopping plaza, located along Palm Parkway. It was announced early last year the Crossroads soon would be demolished as part of an Interstate 4 improvement project.
“One of the drivers to this proposed change, quite frankly, is what’s occurring down here in this corner at the Crossroads shopping center,” Huels said. “There’s going to be additional pressures on this area for relocation of those retail uses. (The Crossroads) is 155,000 square feet of commercial and retail, and once those properties begin to shutter, we think we’re going to see additional development applications to relocate those properties.”
No one in attendance outright opposed the project, but some questioned the traffic impact, asking whether there were plans to widen Winter Garden-Vineland Road from two lanes to handle the extra traffic.
Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said although there are no plans currently to widen that road, developers always are required to work with the county to mitigate any impacts they have on traffic and schools.
“Anytime any development comes through the county, the developer has to work with our traffic engineering to determine what impacts they would make and make the necessary improvements that are required by them,” VanderLey said. “When they get to the point where they have a firm plan and we understand what the traffic impacts will be, they’ll be required to improve that road appropriately.”
Some attendees asked whether the Lake Buena Vista Springs project included plans for a hotel. Huels said it was his understanding the applicant has no plans for a hotel, just 25,000 square feet of retail uses.
“We think it’s appropriate and compatible with the surrounding area,” Huels said. “It’s right across the street from the Grand Cypress project. … It is private property, so we’re trying to strike the balance between getting reasonable use out of it and also not trying to bulldoze acres (of wetlands).”
The Lake Buena Vista Springs project must go through the Local Planning Agency and Board of County Commissioners transmittal hearings July 18 and Aug. 6, respectively. It would then go to the LPA for adoption Oct. 17 and to the BCC Nov. 12.