By Dustin Bowersett
The City of Orlando recently hosted a Duplex Workshop on September 21. The event was well attended with a mixture of homeowners, renters and developers present. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the new City-suggested design standards for Duplex development. There are several new standards, but the most notable are:
- “Anti-monotony” standards to avoid mirror image duplexes and promote architecturally interesting buildings.
- Reduce the mass and scale by limiting the FAR to 0.50
- Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) is a factor used to measure the intensity of development on a given project. F.A.R. is calculated by dividing gross floor area (of all levels of a multi-story building) by the gross lot area. For example, a 3,000 square foot building on a 6,000 square foot lot has an F.A.R. of 0.50. A typical lot in Downtown Orlando is around 6,000 SF.
- Increase the number of canopy trees planted and require at least one of the trees to be located in the front yard.
- Allow a duplex to be split into two separate units that can be bought and sold independent of each other.
- Currently the only way to do this is to “condominium-ize” the duplex, a cumbersome process that significantly reduces the value of the units.
About a dozen residents and developers spoke publicly, voicing their support or opposition of the new standards. The largest point of contention for those opposed was the FAR requirements. It’s currently 0.60 for Duplexes and there is no current maximum for single family homes. Several developers and builders pointed out that they believed the proposed 0.50 FAR for both duplexes and single family homes would reduce the value of lots in the City and strip property rights from property owners. There was little to no opposition to the design and landscaping standards.
The city plans to take the comments from the meeting and revise the current proposed standards accordingly. Elizabeth Holler-Dang is leading the effort for the City, she is planning to submit the updated standards at the Municipal Planning Board’s December 20, 2016 meeting.