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Photo by: Tim Freed - The tractors are moving again at Ravaudage, Winter Park's largest active development, after a period of slow growth.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 1 year ago

Massive Winter Park Ravaudage project moving again

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After slowdown
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

It’s been years in the making, but Ravaudage is picking up steam – and finally showing visible signs of progress.

Winter Park residents who drive past the 73-acre property at the northwest corner of Lee Road and U.S. Highway 17-92 might wonder what’s the holdup. Up until a year and a half ago the only completed projects on what was promised to be a mixed-use village was the Miller’s Winter Park Ale House and a fountain bearing the Ravaudage name.

But the long-awaited development finally saw additional growth in 2015 with a two-story building that now holds a TR Fire Grill, a Zona Fresca Fresh Mexican Grill and medical offices.

And there’s more coming very soon.

Last week Alliance Residential Company and design build services firm Finfrock broke ground on a project for a seven-story, 268-unit apartment complex with a 480-space parking garage. The project came about after 2.3 acres of land was sold to Alliance Residential Company by Ravaudage landowner and developer Dan Bellows. It will sit at the southwest corner of Glendon Parkway and Lewis Drive in the center of the Ravaudage property.

“I think this project is really going to be a catalyst for the rest of that Ravaudage development to develop more quickly,” Finfrock President William Finfrock said. “You have 268 apartments there with permanent residents – it’s just going to spur that much more retail and restaurant and other things that the master developer’s looking to build there.”

“I happen to live less than a mile from [Ravaudage]. I’ve always wondered why that corner couldn’t be something better…I’m very much excited to be a part of it.”

It’s been a long time coming for developer Dan Bellows. The main reason why more buildings haven’t sprung up sooner, Bellows said, is there haven’t been any utilities to hook up to. What exists underground today at the Ravaudage site is a water system that is 50 years old and must be replaced, he said.

Four years ago Bellows came before the Winter Park City Commission looking to make a deal for who’d pay off the new utilities. Already agreeing to pay a significant portion of the utility costs, Bellows proposed an interlocal agreement between the city of Winter Park and a community development district formed by Bellows. That agreement would have created an additional funding source where a percentage of the city’s utility tax revenue would go back to funding the construction of new sewer and storm water.

But the Winter Park mayor at the time, Ken Bradley, had one stipulation: that Bellows donate six acres of land from the Ravaudage property for a new baseball stadium.

Bellows proposed that he would donate an acre and a half and sell the other four and a half acres, but a deal couldn’t be reached.

“That whole deal got torpedoed because of baseball,” Bellows said. “It just brought everything to a screeching halt.”

A year ago Bellows and the current City Commission reached an agreement where Winter Park would pay for the bulk of the water and sewer costs on the condition that they would be reimbursed by impact fees from the incoming projects. So far 25 percent of the Ravaudage property has received new sewer and water utilities.

That’s going to mean even more development in the near future. A six-story, 507-space parking garage is planned for a spot just south of the Alliance Residential Company apartments in the existing Ale House parking lot. The structure will include 10,000 feet of retail on the ground floor and 80 office suites wrapped around the garage. Bellows said he’s considering converting the 80 office suites into 110 hotel rooms.

Bellows has also gotten approval from the city to construct a four-story, mixed-use self-storage facility at the northwest corner of Glendon Parkway and Lewis Drive. Bellows said they hope to break ground in March, adding that the building will have 12,000 square feet of retail, 503 climate-controlled storage units and 11 apartments on the top floor.

A development is also moving forward for a five-story, 278-unit apartment complex along Lee Road at the far southwest corner of Ravaudage.

It’s been at least 17 years since Bellows began assembling parcels of land that would become Ravaudage. It still has a long way to go until it’s the mixed-use village residents have been waiting for, but Bellows knows its all a process, he said.

“Rome was not built overnight,” Bellows said.

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