Windermere leaders approve downtown development plan

The final development plan for the Windermere Downtown Property Development Agreement passed the Town Council last week.


The Windermere Downtown Property Planned Unit Development sits on 2.17 acres within the Town Center District Overlay at the northeast corner of Main Street and East Sixth Avenue.
The Windermere Downtown Property Planned Unit Development sits on 2.17 acres within the Town Center District Overlay at the northeast corner of Main Street and East Sixth Avenue.
Courtesy rendering
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The second reading of an ordinance regarding the Windermere Downtown Property Development Agreement for the final development plan was approved unanimously, with Mayor Jim O’Brien absent, at the Windermere Town Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 8.

The Windermere Downtown Property Planned Unit Development sits on 2.17 acres within the Town Center District Overlay at the northeast corner of Main Street and East Sixth Avenue.

The property owner is Downtown Windermere Properties, and the applicant is V3 Capital Group.

The pre-application process for the project dates back to 2019.

Town Planner Brad Cornelius said because the property is located within the overlay as adopted in the town’s comprehensive plan, development requires zoning to PUD with a preliminary development plan, which the Town Council approved June 2021.

Prior to the final development plan submission, four public workshops were held. Residents voiced concerns regarding topics such as parking, trees, building design and buffering.

The final plan was approved by the Development Review Board June 20.

PROJECT PROPOSAL

According to the final project plans, the 19,750-square-foot retail, restaurant and office space rests within two one-story buildings with a courtyard included between. 

The proposed new buildings are less than the maximum allowed height of 35 feet and are located consistent with the requirements of the Town Center design guidelines.

The buildings are located along Main Street with the back half of the property along Oakdale Street containing the parking and landscape buffer.

At the time of the presentation, the only announced use for the project was a boutique Ace Hardware store proposed for the building on the north end.

Any businesses entering into the space will be limited to hours of operation between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. unless otherwise approved by the Town Council. Any businesses selling or serving alcohol will be subject to the town’s rules in the code of ordinances, which includes the requirement for the approval of a conditional use for onsite consumption.

There will be about six to seven businesses filling the suites.

The project will connect to potable water services from Orange County Utilities and be served by an on-site septic system to be permitted by the Orange County Health Department. Cornelius said the town has no financial obligation for the extension of or connection to any utility services to the project. 

As far as stormwater management, the project will meet the requirements of the South Florida Water Management District to assure post-development impacts do not exceed pre-development impacts of the project. Cornelius said the project is qualified for self-certification permitting by the district.

STUDYING SOLUTIONS

There are 79 on-site parking spaces in the plan. Cornelius said this is consistent with the required parking standard guidelines of four parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building area.

The Ocoee Fire Department reviewed the project and approved the fire truck routing plan and the use of the loading area for shared parking.

As also required in the guidelines, the access to the project is from a right-in, right-out driveway connection to East Sixth Avenue with a right-turn lane into the project from East Sixth Avenue. There will be access on the north side of the project to East Fifth Avenue. 

Cornelius said the applicant is required to provide a transportation mitigation payment of $47,000. This includes $20,000 for the applicant’s share of the estimated cost of an improvement to the Main Street and East Sixth Avenue roundabout, and $27,000 for the installation of a signalized pedestrian crossing on East Sixth Avenue at Oakdale Street. 

“Everybody accepts and understands there is significant traffic, but under code, under state law, we can’t hold a developer responsible for an existing problem,” Cornelius said. “We can have a developer provide an improvement or money to mitigate to help that, which is what’s happening here, but we can’t reject them based on just too much traffic.”

Regarding tree concerns, the applicant provided a tree impact, mitigation and protection plan. The applicant is required to mitigate 151 inches of trees being removed and not being replaced. The applicant has agreed to donate trees to the town for planting to replace the 151 inches in lieu of paying a mitigation fee.

The proposed building design has changed and developed over the past year to reflect public input. Following the June DRB meeting, the applicant revised its building elevations. 

“Your land development code expressly states what you can and cannot look at specifically for approval, and the elevations can be looked at but it’s not something you can base your denial of the project on,” Town Attorney Heather Ramos said.

As required by guidelines, there is a 20-foot landscape buffer at the perimeter of the property along Oakdale Street and East Sixth Avenue. There also is a 6-foot screen wall along the Oakdale Street frontage with landscaping on the exterior of the screen wall. 

Cornelius said the screen wall maintains a 6-foot height along the portion of the East Sixth Avenue frontage that is across from the homes on Oakdale Street on the south of East Sixth Avenue. As the screen wall approaches the right-in, right-out driveway connection for the project to East Sixth Avenue, the screen wall is reduced in height to 3 feet to provide for visual clearance at the driveway intersection. 

The agreement provides requirements for construction management to minimize the impacts to surrounding residential neighborhoods. The requirements include no off-site storage or staging of equipment and materials, the property must be screened from view at all times, no signage allowed except safety signs during construction, and management of debris and dust. In addition, construction hours are limited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Cornelius noted the development agreement as part of the project.

“This will (ensure) that what gets approved is what gets built,” he said. “A comment we’ve heard from residents is what happens in the future if this gets sold or somebody else is going to do it. Well, with this development agreement these requirements, these plans run with the land. Anybody that buys this or takes control of this after the folks sitting here today, they still have to do this. Otherwise, they have to come back through the process all over again.”

Resident Stephen Withers believes the applicant has done what the residents have asked them to do but thinks it is prudent the town see the actual materials reflected in the plans.

Council Member Tony Davit suggested the applicant meet with Tom Price, the architect leading the improvements for Town Hall, to pull some of the architectural cues over to the downtown project.

The Town Council approved unanimously the plans. Council Member Andy Williams recused himself from the vote because he has interest in adjacent properties.

The agreement places a time limit of 18 months for the start of construction after approval. Cornelius said the Town Council may extend the timeline if needed. 

The applicant said the estimated demolition date currently is October or November.

Town staff now will complete any remaining technical reviews and then issue the site development and building permits.

 

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Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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