A proposed construction project that includes 25 townhomes atop office space in Oviedo on the Park got a thumbs down from the City of Oviedo’s Local Planning Agency board on Nov. 7.
The board voted 5-1 to deny recommending the project to the Oviedo City Council due to concerns that the lot isn’t big enough, parking would be problematic and the city wouldn’t have enough control over the business component. The LPA serves as an advisory board to the Council, which is expected to consider the project at a Jan. 18 meeting.
- 3 acre lot at the corner of Center Lake Lane and City Walk Lane
- 25 three-story live/work units
- The top two stories of each unit would be three-bedroom townhomes with a small courtyard and an attached two-car garage with a one-bedroom guest apartment above the garage.
- The ground floor of each townhome could either be built as 700 square feet of office/retail space or be built as a third story within the townhome, adding a fourth bedroom and home workspace.
- Each unit buyer would have the flexibility of building living or office/retail space on the ground floor
- A small .11 acre corner lot, located at City Walk Lane and Center Lake Lane, would be retail/restaurant space. The project’s owner proposed a possible coffee shop
- 182 parking spaces
Property owner Michael Collard said he already has several interested buyers. One buyer is a person working for Google Analytics in Palo Alto, California, who’s opting for the ground floor bedroom/workspace plan. Another, Collard said, wants to buy two units to convert both ground floors into a music school.
“We believe [this project] is central to the plan the city put together when they envisioned Oviedo on the Park,” Collard said. “It’s a really interesting mixed bag of uses on the ground floor.”
Oviedo on the Park is the city’s new downtown development that includes a splash pad, an amphitheater and cultural center, dog park and restaurants, apartments and businesses, all surrounding Center Lake. Some approved projects coming to Oviedo on the Park include The Food Factory, a 14,500 square-foot food hall and bar that’s been in the works since 2019 and Ford’s Garage restaurant, which is planned for the northwest corner of E. Mitchell Hammock Road and Oviedo Boulevard.
Here are the concerns raised by the LPA:
LPA Chairman Darrell Lopez said that this type of project works well in very urban settings, such as New York City, but because most people use their cars to move about Oviedo, this type of density could cause problems.
“On paper it’s an excellent project. It’s too big for the area it’s going in,” he said. “Here, we don’t have the walking space.”
LPA member Emma Reichert agreed, saying there is no way to walk or bike to Oviedo on the Park from the surrounding areas.
“Oviedo is a suburban community and now they want to switch it up and change the rules but we’re not Orlando, we’re not Winter Garden,” she said.
LPA member Steven Rich said the project should either be scaled back or be built on a larger lot. “This is too much in too small of a place,” he said.
Number of parking spaces:
Oviedo’s Development Services Director Teresa Correa said the project’s plans include 182 parking spots, 14 more than the city minimum for this project of 168. But several LPA members said people already struggle to find parking at Oviedo on the Park.
“Three years from now, when this is all done, we’re going to go, ‘Why did we let this happen?’ Because people are going to be circling the streets looking for a place to park,” LPA member Bruce Kavenagh said. “Oviedo’s not to the point yet where it’s a walkable city, where people are going to walk there. I think people, after a while, are going to go, ‘I’m not going there. There’s nowhere to park.’”
Reichert said Collard had discussed building a parking garage on this lot in the past, which she said is needed.
“I don’t know what happened but the No. 1 gripe of every single person who goes to an event at Oviedo on the Park is there is no parking,” she said.
Lopez worried that the city would not have the manpower to police what the individual buyers were doing with their ground floor office/retail space.
“If they don’t want to disclose to the city that they’re renting it out for business, they don’t have to and we won’t know. That’s my problem,” Lopez said.
Correa said they would have to follow the rules, just like any other business owner in the city. Collard added that the project would have a homeowners association that would supervise activity there as well.
Reichert said she thought all of the ground floor property should have to be boutique commercial space without the flexibility to build a three-story townhome.
The City Council will consider LPA’s recommendations but has the final say as to whether the project moves forward.
“I hate to say it to the Council, but it’s on your lap,” Lopez said.
About the LPA
The LPA board “considers applications for comprehensive plan amendments, land development code amendments, zoning map amendments, deviations to land development code standards associated with the building permit applications, special exception use orders, preliminary subdivision plans, planned unit developments, master land use plans and development agreements”, according to the City of Oviedo website. Many of the items that are considered by the Oviedo City Council are first reviewed by the LPA.