The proposed Sanford Lofts project would have put a four-story multi-use building at 111 N. Palmetto Ave. that included retail on the first floor and 17 residential units for low-income seniors on the top three floors.
Commissioners approved the project in December despite much of the community’s opposition to the development. Currently the lot is used as a public parking lot.
During that period city staff began working with Sanford Lofts developer Florida SPECS to discuss a possible land-swap between the lot and the former police department at 815 French Ave.
Florida SPECS was slated to receive federal funding for the project that would be distributed through Seminole County. Because of this, Seminole County currently has a lien on the Palmetto property – making a simple land switch impossible for the city.
However after discussions with county staff, a tri-party agreement between the three entities will allow for Florida SPECS to take ownership of the Palmetto property and eventually make the switch for the former police department site.
In the agreement, Florida SPECS will pay the county $350,000 to Seminole County for the property on Palmetto, which would then be switched for the property on French Avenue.
One the switch is complete, Seminole County will release the funding back to Florida SPECS for the development of the project.
While commissioners approved the agreement Monday, more paperwork will be needed before the switch is complete. In that additional paperwork, said City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr., the city may require the project to be completed within a specific timeframe.
This requirement would also keep Florida SPECS from turning around and selling the property that fronts U.S. 17-92 – a concern commissioners expressed on Monday.
Bonaparte said during previous discussions with Florida SPECS, there was a consensus that 24 months would be enough time for them to complete the project.
During Monday’s meeting Florida SPECS Executive Director R.T. Hillery said he would continue to work with the city manager and city attorney to move the project along.
The switch would make many downtown residents and business owners happy as they opposed the project at the time of its approval.
In December many from the community came out to commission meetings to speak out against the project, which they believed did not belong in the entertainment district of Sanford.
A lawsuit was also filed against the city during that time claiming the city violated the comprehensive plan by approving the project.