Winter Garden forgives impact fees for downtown project

City commissioners voted to approve deferring and forgiving more than $30,000 in impact fees for the 30 N. Park Ave. townhouse project.

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  • | 2:33 p.m. June 2, 2021
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Winter Garden city commissioners voted to approve an impact fee deferral and forgiveness agreement for a downtown property.

During their May 27 City Commission meeting, city leaders briefly discussed the agreement between the city and 30 North Park LLC, for 30 N. Park Ave.

The impact fee deferral and forgiveness agreement forgives $31,653 in traffic impact fees for nine townhouse units currently under construction at Park and Plant streets — or $3,517 per unit.

According to city documents, staff recommended approval of the agreement because they determined “the project enhances the aesthetics, function, developability and character of downtown Winter Garden” and has also done so in accordance with specific design standards. 

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer told commissioners the city has granted impact fee deferrals and forgiveness in the past, and he believes granting it for this project is the right thing to do. 

“What we do is when people build downtown, we have really strict architecture requirements,” Bollhoefer said. “Our thinking is in the long term to have really good quality architecture, good buildings and good design, it actually drives up the property values of the buildings downtown. It drives up your tax revenues, but it also increases the property values of all at the adjacent properties. We do this because the fact is with our demands and what we require in architecture, it requires those builders to spend significantly more money.”

Bollhoefer said he believes two of the townhouse units have sold for about $1 million already, adding that it’s an encouraging sign of economic development.

“For these units — this is with the nine units on an average cost for what was estimated at $800,000 — the amount of money you’re waiving, you would make back in one year,” he said. “It’s going to generate $30,000 a year in property taxes, which is a significant amount of property tax for nine units. We think it’s —  going forward — encouraging and actually requiring a higher quality of architecture, which makes a big different for downtown.”

Commissioner Ron Mueller asked why the incentive wasn’t in place when the project was going through its approval process.

“I know we’ve done some really cool incentive things in the past,” he said. “But in this case, this is something that’s already under construction and already going forward. Where I’m struggling is, why would we go ahead and give back an incentive opportunity for something that’s already been approved and moved forward?”

Bollhoefer reiterated that because the city has done the same for other downtown development projects in the past, city staff believes it’s only fair to do so for this project.

“We talked about this, and it wasn’t done when it was required, but they did do what we did asked of them, and just in fairness as we’ve done it for everybody else, I think it’s just the right thing to do,” Bollhoefer said. 

Commissioners approved the agreement 4-1, with Mueller dissenting.


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