Florida’s still-new Live Local Act incentivizes developers to build workforce and affordable housing through zoning bypasses and tax benefits.
Newly filed plans reveal a Nashville developer is eyeing a project inspired by Florida’s still-new Live Local Act near Orlando Executive Airport.
Elmington, a commercial real estate investment, development, construction and property management firm, is behind a pre-application request in Orange County to discuss the project to build 200 apartment units at 5640 Santa Rosa Drive. Per Live Local Act guidelines, the developer is proposing that 40% of the units — at least 80 apartments, based on the proposed unit count — qualify as affordable or workforce housing.
The project — tentatively titled ECG Santa Rosa in submitted materials — would include two four-story buildings on the 8.84-acre site, which is near the southwest intersection of East Colonial Drive and North Semoran Boulevard, across Lake Barton from the executive airport.
A unit breakdown on the development summary shows 100 one-bedroom apartments, 60 two-bedroom apartments and 40 three-bedroom apartments.
New developments that cite the Live Local Act as inspiration are significant, as the legislation allows developers to bypass process steps such as rezoning and land-use changes — provided the property is already zoned for commercial, industrial or mixed-use and the developer agrees to make at least 40% of the residential units affordable or workforce housing for 30 years.
That bypass is important, as it will save developers significant time and legal expenses, both of which are valuable in ensuring new projects make financial sense. The act also includes an ad-valorem tax exemption, commonly referred to as the Missing Middle exemption, for the portions of the property that provide affordable or workforce housing.
If early projects brought forward because of the Live Local Act are successful, it could lead to substantial repositioning of and reinvestment in properties in the region with those zoning categories.
Executives for Elmington and Orlando-based Central Florida Real Estate Investments & Developments LLC, which owns the land, were not immediately available for comment. It is unclear whether Elmington has the land under contract for purchase.
Orange County records show Central Florida Real Estate Investments and Developments bought the property for $1.23 million in September 2013.
Meanwhile, state and local experts have told The Business Journals that the Live Local Act will be transformative in how it affects development in Florida.
“The attainable housing law will immediately change the landscape of development in Florida,” previously said Keith Poliakoff, an attorney with Fort Lauderdale-based Government Law Group, which represents many developers. “For the first time I can recall in state history, the state government has overridden home rule and taken away the zoning and land-use powers from local government.”
Other newly planned projects in the region that have cited the legislation include Eastwind Development’s plans for apartments on a vacant 14-acre parcel near UCF.
“I think there is a need for more apartments in this submarket, and there’s an even bigger need for apartment projects with a workforce housing component,” said Stephen Novacki, Eastwind’s vice president of acquisition and development.
Data from CoStar Group shows the Eastside multifamily submarket, which includes the Santa Rosa Drive site, has a $1,774 average monthly apartment rent and a 6.2% average vacancy rate. In comparison, metro Orlando has an $1,800 average monthly apartment rent and an 8.5% average vacancy rate.