Winter Garden commission approves DQ, hotel projects

New developments are coming soon to West Colonial Drive.

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  • | 3:37 p.m. February 19, 2020
From Winter Garden city documents
From Winter Garden city documents
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Two different development projects recently approved by city leaders are bringing hotels, retail and a DQ Grill & Chill to Winter Garden.

During the Feb. 13 Winter Garden commission meeting, commissioners unanimously gave the green light to an ordinance that rezones roughly 8.25 acres on the northeast corner of Carter Road and West Colonial Drive from one Planned Commercial Development to a new one.

The ordinance, which concerns the parcel of land located at 12301 W. Colonial Drive, originally was brought to the table for commissioners to consider during the Jan. 9 commission meeting. 

Dubbed the Peoples Plaza PCD, this new project will entail demolishing all existing buildings on the site and putting in their place two hotels, a 7-Eleven gas station and one or two commercial lots. 

One hotel will be a Hampton Inn, and the other has not yet been named. Between the two hotels, there is a maximum of 220 total rooms allowed. The project also will allow for one drive-thru restaurant.

Plans show the two hotels on the north side of the site and 7-Eleven station with attached car wash at the corner of West Colonial Drive and Carter Road. The southeast portion of the site is designated for commercial space.

Winter Garden resident Ron Mueller questioned the developer as to why he planned to include a gas station when the city has had a handful of failed ones.

“My one question was just about — and I very (much) welcome your hotel and I think it’s great and I’m looking forward to them — just the gas station,” Mueller said. “We have some, and I think you probably heard some conversation during the first reading that … we’ve already had a couple that have gone under and so on and so forth, so I was just trying to get a better understanding of the need to have a service station along with the hotels.” 

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said staff did not necessarily want to have a gas station on the site, but in order to bring in such a project, sometimes it requires compromise between the city and developers.

“As you find with redevelopment, when you’re doing large tracts, developers have to make numbers work,” Bollhoefer said. “To get the entire site developed, without the gas station (it) would kill the whole deal and would not make it financially feasible. That’s why the staff approved the gas station, because it was an essential component to get the entire project done. … Those gas stations seem to be important financial components of those deals.”

Mueller reiterated that there were a couple of failed service stations in the area and did not know about the feasibility of what the station’s income structure would look like.

“I will tell you some of the feasibility — (with) the traffic light and a brand-new gas station on a corner, I have no doubt that that one will do well, because it’s a great location,” Bollhoefer said.



Another project a few miles west includes a brand-new DQ Grill & Chill restaurant.

The West Market site project — an 18.25-acre property at 14120 W. Colonial Drive, near South Park Avenue and Sand Lime Road — has been in the works for a couple of years now, with land cleared for it in mid-2018.

Part of the project, a 2,612-square-foot DQ Grill & Chill drive-thru restaurant on a 0.99-acre lot, officially was approved by commissioners during the meeting. Plans for the one-story building also include an additional 464-square-foot space to be used for a freezer, cooler and dry storage. There will be 33 total parking spaces, as well as six spaces to park bicycles.

Commissioner Bob Buchanan asked when the restaurant would be built. Community Development Director Steve Pash said he believes the developer will break ground shortly. The commission voted to approve the site plan, with Commissioner Mark Maciel recusing.

Dairy Queen first announced the DQ Grill & Chill concept in 2002. Today, there are more than 2,000 restaurants.  

“The welcoming atmosphere of our DQ Grill & Chill restaurants sets us apart from everyday fast-food establishments,” Dairy Queen’s website states. “It also helps us create that one-of-a-kind experience for our customers.”

DQ Grill & Chill locations serve hot food, treats and self-serve soft drinks. They also offer table delivery, and are larger than the older Dairy Queen restaurants. Features include a modern open-air grill design, booths, warm lighting, separate “grill” and “chill” kitchens, large gathering tables and a modern outdoor patio.


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