Winter Garden commission considers hotels, gas station

A developer is proposing two hotels, a gas station and commercial space on the northeast corner of Carter Road and West Colonial Drive.

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  • | 4:05 p.m. January 17, 2020
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Hampton Inn and 7-Eleven are among new businesses that could be coming to the corner of Carter Road and West Colonial Drive in Winter Garden.

Winter Garden commissioners unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance during their Jan. 9 meeting that would rezone 8.25 acres of property at 12301 W. Colonial Drive — the northeast corner of West Colonial Drive and Carter Road.

Ordinance 20-04 serves to rezone the property from the existing Planned Commercial Development designation to a new PCD described as the Peoples Plaza PCD. 

Steve Pash, community development director for Winter Garden, said the proposed development would include demolishing all existing buildings on the site and redeveloping it with two hotels, a gas station and one or two commercial lots. Pash said that between both hotels there is a maximum of 220 total rooms allowed.

City documents show the proposed development splitting the parcel into four lots, with the two hotels on the north side of the site and the gas station at the corner of West Colonial Drive and Carter Road. The southeast portion of the site is yet to be determined, but could include one drive-thru restaurant and a second commercial building for retail, a sit-down restaurant, professional or medical offices, or another commercial use. 

The proposed Hampton Inn would be located on the second lot at the northeast corner of the property. It would be a five-story building containing 102 rooms, with a pool on the north side of the building.

The 7-Eleven would be located on the third lot at the southwest corner of the property and would have an attached car wash.

Mayor John Rees said he hoped the plans would include a sit-down restaurant and added that there already are numerous gas stations in the area.

“First of all, another gas station — there’s about eight of them up and down two miles,” Rees said. “I guess I was hoping for not a drive-thru restaurant but a sit-down restaurant, a little nicer restaurant. I saw that that was being proposed.”

Winter Garden resident Sarah Wolfe objected to the gas station, echoing Rees’ statement of an abundance of gas stations.

“We have a failed gas station on the corner, what used to be Dodge’s and now Mobil is failed, closed,” Wolfe said. “There’s another gas station that’s closed close to the nursing home on (State Road) 50, so another gas station — I highly object. I don’t think it’s the type of entrance we want to Winter Garden coming down from the Turnpike.”

City documents show this proposed site plan as split into four lots.
City documents show this proposed site plan as split into four lots.

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said that when working with developers, the city always opts for the best use or plan and sometimes it requires trade-offs. He added that the developers are currently in discussion with a “high-end” restaurant for the site.

“In this situation on this property, a developer — when they’re doing a project — they have to make their numbers work,” Bollhoefer said. “As you know, we were not looking for a gas station (and) we don’t ever go out looking for a gas station. We had several meetings, several debates, we even met with the executives of the 7-Eleven, but it was a package deal.

“When you look at … overall what you have there now and what you’re getting there, it’s significantly improving what was there,” Bollhoefer said. “Sometimes in development you don’t get 100% of what you want, but you make those trade-offs because it’s still the best thing you can do for the city with the trade-offs.”

The ordinance’s second reading and public hearing is scheduled for the Jan. 23 commission meeting, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. at Winter Garden City Hall. 


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