November 23, 2015

Green Light for Princeton Development in College Park, But No Start Date Yet

By Michael Freeman, Orlando Sentinel

Although the developer of a proposed apartment complex in College Park is no longer facing legal action to block the project from moving forward, it could take as long as eight months before the actual construction work begins.

Pollack Shores Real Estate of Atlanta wants to build a residential apartment complex called The Princeton at College Park on Princeton Street near Edgewater Drive. But while the City Commission approved the development in December 2014, it has been held up for nearly a year because a group of residents filed legal action to challenge the council’s vote.

The group, known as Rethink the Princeton, had argued that it violated the city’s growth management plan and the terms of the Edgewater Drive Vision Plan, which established growth standards around the Drive.

But last week, Rethink dropped the lawsuit, and now Pollack Shores is estimating that the project is unlikely to get underway until next summer at the earliest.

“It will likely take six to eight months to restart the project,” said Anthony Everett, the director of Central Florida for Pollack Shores.

Everett added that Pollack Shores does not have a date set for when the first shovels will hit the ground.

“The construction start date is undetermined at this time,” he said.

Everett praised the decision by Rethink to drop their lawsuit, and said Pollack Shores is still committed to making this apartment complex a part of the College Park neighborhood.

Everett noted in a release that Pollack Shores had “worked collaboratively with hundreds of residents of the College Park neighborhood throughout the development process by hosting four public meetings and more than 50 private meetings with residents, business owners, the city architect and staff, the municipal planning board and the City Commission.”

Those meetings had an impact on the original design plans for the Princeton, he added, since resident input “resulted in a reduction of the project density by 25 percent.”

Everett also noted that, once constructed, The Princeton would be bound by Smith and Princeton streets and Edgewater Drive, and would offer 206 luxury units and a parking garage.

This project, he added, would create 300 new construction jobs and 10 full-time management positions at the complex, while contributing $38 million to the Orlando economy.

Other benefits from this project, Everett said, include Pollack Shores’ commitment to spending $1.2 million in transportation improvements, public parking, undergrounding of overhead power lines, sewer upgrades, and a pocket park accessible by the public.

The lawsuit was dropped after the city and Pollack Shores informed Rethink the Princeton that they would ask a judge to award them legal fees in the event that the lawsuit lost in court. Aaron Powell, one of the founders of Rethink, said they were concerned that would add up to millions in legal fees that they simply couldn’t afford.

“While the city states they have ‘an obligation to the taxpayers to seek reimbursement,’ we believe that in fact the city has made the willful choice to spend taxpayer money to fight its own local taxpayers in behalf of an out-of-state developer from Atlanta, Georgia, and a development that few people in our community want,” Powell said, while adding that Rethink is not going away, and will now work with other neighborhoods concerned about rapid growth.

“We absolutely plan to share our experience and knowledge with other groups,” Powell said. “We are not against new development. We’re against dumb density. We want to support smart growth. We want to be a proactive organization.”

Read the full article here.