Developers struggle to find financing, move forward in Winter Park
May 20, 2009
The development game isn’t what it was a year ago in Winter Park. Financing is harder to come by, halting construction of several projects around the town.
The member of the Winter Park Town Council are working to ensure developers take responsibility for their properties during the difficult economic times.
Last November, the council passed an ordinance that gave developers 180 days after the day of approval of a final plat to record that plat with the town planning department.
If a developer misses the deadline, it “results in the Town Council establishing a hearing date and directing the applicant to … show good cause why the Town Council shall not nullify the approval of the Final Plat.”
The ordinance gave the town the ability to grant a one-time extension of 180 days.
On Tuesday, five developers had not filed final plats for subdivisions by the deadline ” 24-unit Creeksedge Condominimums on Lions Gate Drive, 24-unit Fireside Creek condominium project on Forest Trail, 10-unit Hideaway Pines Condominiums at the corner of Forest Trail and Elk Trail, 18-unit Vintage Condominiums at Winter Park Resort and Winter Park Square, a 105-unit condominium project with 25,000 square feet of non-residential space on the corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Miller Road.
Four of the developers asked for six-month extensions.
“The Vintage has not asked for an extension,” said Town Planner James Shockey. “They don’t believe they’ll be in any different situation in six months.”
Each developer cited difficulty getting financing for the delay with assurances that the problems could be resolved.
“We understand (the delay) is not necessarily a lack of effort, but economic conditions,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Rusty Thompson.
Steve Wilklow spoke for the Winter Park Square project, known locally as “The Shed”.
“We have it out there for sale,” he said. “We’re getting interest, but it’s a slow process. Even people with hedge funds are holding their money.
“If we got funding, we would move forward.”
In a letter to the Winter Park Planning Department, Wilklow wrote that construction lending approved for Winter Park Square at the beginning of 2008, “evaporated in June just as we received final plat approval.
“Even though we had 4-5 other lenders as backups, and approached a total of 40 other banks and lending groups, all declined due to the worsening financial market and lack of funding for any residential construction.”
The council approved the extension requests for all four subdivisions on one condition ” the properties be cleaned of construction debris and fallen and standing dead trees.
“I don’t mind waiting six months, but I don’t want it to look like a train wreck,” said Councilor Chris Seemann.
The council was especially concerned about the Winter Park Square project because of its visibility on Highway 40.
If any of the properties are not cleaned up by June 15, the council voted, the extensions will be revoked.
” To reach Autumn Phillips call 887-3334 ext. 19600 or e-mail email@example.com.