Update October 17, 2014: The developers have asked for an extension of the second reading. This will push the second reading to November 3.
At yesterdays City Council meeting the commissioners voted to amend the current ordinance that would have allowed the project to move forward and require the developer to shift some of the density away from the middle of the project. This would reduce the height from five stories to four stories and four stories to three stories in the middle of the project.
This change would put the project into strict compliance with the Edgewater Drive Vision Plan. A plan that the community worked to put together five years ago.
The building, as currently designed, starts as a five-story building and then goes to four and then three. The plan allows for the building to go from a seven story building down to four and then three.
The current building at five stories is less than the seven the plan calls for, but the five-story and four-story area goes too far into the neighborhood into the are that the plan only allows for three stories.
This is really the only exception the developer was asking for.
Despite what other media outlets are reporting, the City Council did not actually vote to scale back the project. The developer could actually keep the number of units the same by removing the top one or two floors where it’s over the height maximums and move those units to the part of the building that is closest to Edgewater Drive and make the building seven stories in that portion.
Here’s a rending from the City of Orlando Staff that shows the potential change:
We spoke with the project developer Anthony Everett who told Bungalower there’s a good chance they won’t be going any higher than the five stories.
“We don’t think going seven stories is the right decision,” he said. “We think that would only aggravate our neighbors and we are trying to reach a resolution that works for us and as many of our neighbors as possible.”
The issue now is that the project may not be financially feasible for them.
“We will do our best to comply with the plan, but we have tried many different scenarios to try to comply with the plan. We didn’t ask for a slight modifications of the transect requirements because we wanted to; we asked for them because we thought we needed them to make the project viable,” he told Bungalower.
Commissioner Robert Stuart, whose district includes College Park, proposed the amendment to put the project into strict compliance with the plan.
“Our call is to look at where the community needs to go,” Stuart said at the meeting. “If they can’t make any money doing that then that is their choice,” he added.
The two commissioners who spoke out with concerns on the project were Commissioners Patty Sheehan and Tony Oritz.
Sheehan was the only one to express concerns with the project and process itself. Her concerns centered around the developer getting a bonus for being a mixed-use project when they are not redeveloping the commercial area along Edgewater Drive. Some of the other commissioners sounded as if they had just heard about the project and seemed to not be OK with voting on a project that people from the community were against.
The amendment also puts a limit on the future commercial development on that site and requires any changes made to the plan to come to City Council for approval.
The amendment passed six to one, but the ordinance, with the amendment attached to it, passed four to three.
The next City Council meeting is in three weeks. At that point the developer could be presenting a plan that puts the project into strict compliance with the vision plan.