During the Ocoee City Commission’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 4, the commission heard from city staff regarding the possible sale of two parcels of land owned by the city.
For the last few years Ocoee has received numerous, unsolicited proposals to purchase land owned by the city. The first is a 16.19-acre parcel near Ocoee High School — east of Ocoee Crown Point Parkway, west of Ocoee-Apopka Road and north of the 429 — which was possibly to be developed as a residential townhouse project. The second is a 17.96-acre parcel on the northeast corner of Ocoee-Apopka Road and Fullers Cross Road — south of 429 — that would be for commercial use.
The city of Ocoee had each appraised. The residential property came in at just more than $2.9 million, and the community property at just more than $3.5 million.
The city then sent Request for Letters of Intent for both properties and received seven responses for the residential property and three for the commercial property. The offers for the residential property ranged from a low of $1 million to a high of $2 million, while the commercial property fetched offers from $2.7 million to $3.5 million.
Given those offers, city staff recommended not to sell the residential property for the time being.
“City staff does not feel that apartments would be a good use for the property,” staff stated. “City staff believes that the timing of the response coinciding with the height of the current pandemic and the corresponding uncertainty of the housing market played a role in the lower than expected offer. Given the low offers, a lack of urgency to sell the residential property and additional development coming over the next few years, which may increase the value of the land, city staff is recommending that the city not pursue the sale of the residential property at this time.”
“In that area, I don’t see the interest in having apartments, and second of all I think we just sit on that property — wait for the value to go up and wait for interest,” Commissioner Rosemary Wilson said. “It’s not costing us anything to keep at this point, correct? And I don't think the city should be taking a million-dollar hit … and I just don't like when I read this about apartments.”
“I know exactly how they feel, because they've shared it with me,” Commissioner Larry Brinson said.
Ultimately, the commission voted unanimously to reject all offers.
However, the city will move forward with the sales process of the commercial property. The highest bidder — GPK OET LLC — is a developer that has worked with the city previously. GPK’s proposal includes a gas station, a tractor dealership and an office.
Although there is no urgency, city staff’s suggestion for the commission is to allow the staff to continue to engage GPK with further discussions to see about the potential for differing uses for the commercial property.
Commissioners asked for more clarification on the developer’s involvement in addressing problems at the intersection of Ocoee-Apopka Road and Fullers Cross Road.
“The overall planned unit development had a traffic study and has road layout, extension of Crown Point Parkway, widening and has all the committed uses within the planned unit development of which this tract is of commercial use,” Director of Development Services Michael Rumer said. “Part of the Fullers Cross/Ocoee-Apopka Road work was a result of that; we know the turn lanes were needed, we know the width of right-of-way — that project is funded, committed and will start.
“When they come in with their development, we’ll look at the development as proposed to the amount of square footage allotted in the transportation study when the PUD was approved, to see if it’s going to generate more trips (or) less trips and we’ll see what type of trip it is,” he said.
The commission approved unanimously that staff move forward in negotiations with GPK.