$1B 'Agrihood' Development Gets Green Light

It’s a go: Plans for The Grow, an “agrihood” development proposed in east Orlando, have been approved.

Orange County commissioners during a Sept. 20 meeting approved The Grow’s development, rezoning and regulatory plan, meaning the estimated $1 billion project can move into its design and permitting phase and prepare for a construction start next summer.

The Plans for The Grow development includes 2,078 homes, a community garden, a 20-acre community park, 12 miles of biking trails, an elementary school and 172,000 square feet of commercial development, including retail and a restaurant that uses ingredients from the community garden, among other elements. Dwight Saathoff, president of Orlando-based Project Finance & Development LLC, is the developer of the project that spans 1,189 acres behind the University of Central Florida near Lake Pickett Road and the Econlockhatchee River.

“Being from a small Midwestern farming town, I’ve always had an affinity for farmers and I enjoy cooking with fresh ingredients. A few years ago, we had a serious family illness that made me much more concerned with knowing how and where food in our supermarket was grown. I began to really understand the health benefits of locally grown food and the environmental need for sustainable food production practices. I thought it would really be cool to create a community where agriculture is the focal point,” Saathoff previously told Orlando Business Journal.

The project was approved in a 4-2 vote. Supporters of the project cite the growth of east Orlando, including UCF, Research Park and State Road 50, as a need for this project. The sustainable characteristics of the project were a plus, too. County commissioners in favor of the project said the thoughtfulness and quality of The Grow were big reasons why it was approved, plus they wanted to bring certainty to that area of town that’s been rumored to see big development for years now.

However, many opponents of the project call it “urban sprawl” and disagree with a major development like The Grow happening near the Econlockhatchee River and the Lake Pickett area that have remained rural while surrounding land has been developed. A development this large will require new road work, and The Grow proposes a roundabout on South Tanner Road to help with the flow of traffic. Project Finance & Development LLC will pay for the roundabout.

Construction of The Grow’s first phase may begin next summer, and is expected to include a 9-acre working farm and community barn, some community gardens, the 20-acre community park and some residential development. The goal of the first phase is to establish the sustainable theme, Saathoff previously told OBJ. Plans for The Grow first emerged in April 2015.

Source:  OBJ


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