The wooded 12 acres of land on the corner of East Mitchell Hammock Road and Clara Lee Evans Way, across from Oviedo on the Park, is transforming into The Ellington at Oviedo Park, a mix of 296-unit luxury apartments, businesses and restaurants.
The Atlanta-based developer, Brand Properties, will implement a car share program, which loans a car to Ellington residents for two hours at a time to hopefully reduce the number of cars in the parking lot. Of Brand Properties’ more than 50 development projects, this is the first time they’re offering that feature.
“It tends to be a program used in denser areas,” said Brand Properties President Michael Hoath, noting that he’s seen similar programs in Chicago, Boston and Manhattan. “We’re excited because it allows us to attract residents who don’t have a car or maybe a couple who shares a car.”
The developer has secured one retail tenant: “an established, very successful coffee shop,” said Hoath. He could not release their name yet.
He said they have a few leads on a restaurant tenant. “We’re fairly flexible,” he said about what they’re looking for. “We have the ability to be somewhat selective.”
Besides a coffee shop and a restaurant, Hoath said other retail tenants will be those that do not generate traffic in the evening hours so they don’t compete for parking with the residents. He said he’s had high interest from a dentist and a gym, but nothing final.
This week, Oviedo City Council approved the project’s architectural plans, which include an art walk along Clara Lee Evans Way. There will be 8-foot sidewalks (5 feet is standard), a linear park for additional green space, and three sculptures by Atlanta-based artist Adam Pinsley — a painted aluminum and steel steamship paddle wheel, acorn and celery stalk, inspired by the City of Oviedo’s symbol.
“Clara Lee Evans Way has a lot of pedestrian traffic from Oviedo on the Park to the Publix,” Hoath said. “We’re trying to make it as pleasant a pedestrian experience as possible.”
There will also be a dog park and a pool for residents.
Construction has begun on the project with an expected completion date of August 2022.
That property had been zoned to only allow commercial use, which means only businesses would move in there. When the project was approved in June 2020, it required changes to the city’s zoning map and comprehensive plan to include residential. Reducing the square footage for business use decreased the proposed traffic from 12,400 daily trips to 2,084. The changes also increased the required open space within the project‒such as land for park space‒from 25 percent to 30 percent.
“Everyone was on board with less traffic and less pavement,” Mayor Megan Sladek said.
The developer will build a two-lane roadway behind the project called Nellie Woods Lane, which will connect Clara Lee Evans Way to Alafaya Trail.
A Facebook post about this project in May on the “My Oviedo, FL 32765 32766” page prompted 268 responses and was a mix of support and opposition. Katrina Shadix, executive director of Bear Warriors United, a local environmental conservation organization, said she was the only citizen to comment during a public hearing in February 2020. She had inquired about a land buying program where the city would purchase the 12-acre property as passive park space.
“That way the owner could still get a fair price without destroying the ecosystem,” she said. “People don’t know these development decisions are made in City Hall in City Council meetings. They don’t know the process. I think it’s just a lack of knowledge.”
Sladek said she likes land buying programs but said she did not consider this property to be suitable for preservation because of the surrounding development.
“That is not a good place for a deer forest,” she said.