Winter Park readies for new store | SkyHiNews.com

Winter Park readies for new store

New buildings are beginning to take shape in Winter Park as construction continues on the Sitzmark properties, marking significant progress on a process approved over two years ago.

The two properties, Sitzmark North and South, are located east of U.S. Highway 40 at the north end of Winter Park, and will bring a new grocery store, parking garage, community center, affordable housing options and commercial retail spaces to the area.

The project is meant to revitalize the downtown Winter Park area by providing a market within the town boundaries that would enable residents to have "healthier and more convenient options for shopping and goods," according to the Sitzmark master site plan. The town also expects the project to produce opportunities for economic growth through job creation and attracting new businesses to the area.

"Obviously we have a need in our community for housing; we have a need for event space; we have some economic development opportunities, not only the grocery store, but with other commercial facilities both on the north and south pieces," said Drew Nelson, Winter Park Town Manager. "It's really a kitchen sink approach to looking at developing our town."

The Sitzmark South land, totalling 6.2 acres, was sold to Winter Park Development Company LLC for $1.2 million and will feature 38 attainable housing units along with a 20,000 square foot grocery store.

Providing more attainable housing has been an emphasis for Winter Park in recent years. Currently Winter Park only houses 22 percent of the town's workforce, according to Nelson. The town hopes to raise that number to 30 percent over the next five years.

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Pre-leasing has already begun on the units, and the town hopes to have them filled in time for ski season later this year.

Construction of the units, along with the store and parking garage, will be completed by November, or sooner, said Chip Besse of Winter Park Development Company. The tenant of the grocery store has not yet been announced.

The town also donated three acres of land on Sitzmark North to the Sprout Foundation, a local non-profit organization, which is using the land to build a community center. The center will provide space for public and private events, and will emphasize environmental education.

The Sitzmark Master Plan was designed after a series of public meetings and consulting in 2013 and 2014 wherein Winter park determined the biggest needs of the town.

"They took a loot at everything from business opportunities, to needs of the community and all of that stuff," said Nelson. "It really helped shape what outcomes we wanted to generate. At the end of the day this is really more of the implementation of what that vision was back from 2012 and 2014."

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