Mixed-use project on former Orange County dump takes next step toward construction
By Jack Witthaus, Senior Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal A proposed massive redevelopment of a former Orange County dump has taken a step closer to construction, as developers continue to look for sites locally to serve Orlando’s booming population growth. Orlando-based MMI Development’s Fieldstream Village mixed-use project is expected to go before Orange County’s Board of County Commissioners in October. That’s after the county’s planning and zoning board at its Sept. 16 meeting recommended to approve the developer’s request to amend the county’s future land-use map to allow high-density residential as well as an amendment to rezone the property for multifamily and commercial. The $350 million-plus project calls for up to 1,500 market-rate apartments and 100,000 square feet of commercial space at 10601 Lake Underhill Road east of downtown Orlando. The project also calls for improving Lake Underhill Road adjacent the development as a portion of the dump lies beneath it. It was the first public hearing at the planning and zoning board for the project, a necessary first step before developments can get final approvals. After the October meeting, the project is expected to go back to planning and zoning in December, said Angel de la Portilla, founder of Orlando-based government consulting firm Central Florida Strategies Inc., who is working with Orlando-based MMI Development. Then, it’s expected to head to an adoption hearing at the board of county commissioners in January. Meanwhile, MMI Development also is proposing the creation of a new tax increment finance district that will allow new incremental tax revenue to be used for the cleanup of the site. Currently, road construction and cleanup of the site may start in late fall 2022. The best time to clean the site would be from October 2022-May 2023 to avoid Central Florida’s rainy season. The development team includes land planners Charlotte, North Carolina-based Shook Kelley; Orlando-based GrayRobinson law firm partner Jason Searl; Windermere-based environmental consultant American Environmental Consulting Inc.; and Joe Kilsheimer is handling the project’s communication strategy. Orlando’s fast-growing population is has sent developers scurrying to find sites to build new homes and commercial space to support the new residents. That may make harder-to-develop, environmentally contaminated sites more attractive for redevelopment. Still, the complexities involved with remediating and redeveloping sites makes it rare for developers to be interested. “Most developers would be intimidated by that,” said Luke Wickham, senior managing director in the Orlando office of Institutional Property Advisors, who isn’t involved with Fieldstream Village. The east Orlando apartment submarket, which includes the proposed Fieldstream Village project, has an average asking rent of $1,534 per month, which is near the Orlando-area average of $1,587, CoStar Group reported. In addition, the submarket’s average vacancy rate is 3.6%, which is lower than the Orlando-area average of 5.3%. To view a video of the Orange County Planning & Zoning Commission’s consideration of Fieldstream Village, please click here.