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cwetteland

High-rise apartment proposed near UCF

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cwetteland    89

High-rise apartment proposed near UCF

By David Damron | Sentinel Staff Writer

Posted February 28, 2005

A student housing tower could rise just outside the main entrance of the University of Central Florida if an Orlando landowner goes forward with ideas being circulated to transform an off-campus shopping plaza.

The most recent proposal -- a 10-story high-rise that would combine housing and retail space -- would dwarf other buildings in the area and might be opposed by residents near the fast-growing university.

"There's nothing else out there that tall," said Chris Testerman, manager of Orange County's planning division.

Representatives of Hank Katzen, owner of the 14-acre plaza at University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail, have quietly talked up possible projects for the site during the past two years, Orange County officials said.

Ideas have included a 20- to-30-floor high-rise or up to four multi-story towers.

"Based on some of the neighbors' concerns, they scaled it back," said Orange County planner John Smogor.

Area resident Linda Dorian, who met with a developer attorney to gauge potential resident reaction to four, 20-story towers, said it's clear "they are sensitive to the fact that there would be opposition to this from the community."

Katzen could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Paul Chipok, gave no specifics this week but said student housing and retail development are being considered for the property.

He noted that zoning regulations limit building heights in the area to 10 stories.

The taller buildings in the UCF vicinity are four stories, and one is six, although new campus housing coming this fall will go up to seven floors.

Katzen's property is known as University Shoppes, a collection of small restaurants, nightclubs and retail outlets. It's home to Shamrock Beverage, a liquor store within walking distance of campus that is popular with students.

UCF officials have talked with the developer about potential projects there, including high-rises, but nothing final, said Bill Merck, vice president of Administration and Finance. "It's been a whole range of blue-sky ideas."

Merck said he's not sure what need there would be for it, especially as UCF increases its own on-campus retail and housing: 2,000 new beds by fall 2007, for a total of 6,100.

Commercial neighbors say a 20- to 30-story tower would be "way too aggressive," and any project should adhere to the 10-story height rule, said Bob Bredahl, an official with the Quadrangle Office Park, which is next door.

Bredahl said Katzen representatives spoke to him this fall about the idea of four towers, each 10 stories high.

Apartment-market watcher Bob Miller said the area needs more housing as UCF grows beyond its 42,000-students.

"I'm surprised the university hasn't done more on campus. They've got the land," said Miller, an apartment specialist with CB Richard Ellis Inc., in Orlando. "They're bursting at the seams."

Off-campus student housing has long been a sore spot with UCF neighbors. Dorian, a nearby River's Bend resident, successfully opposed expansion of the Knight's Krossing complex, now named Pegasus Landing.

Dorian and other critics say UCF needs to build more on-campus housing, and rely less on off-campus apartments that amplify traffic and crime.

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GRS328    19

I don't know... I really don't know enough to comment on whether this is a good or bad idea. I'm biased with respect to height, so I'd like to see towers go up.

But what really bothers me about this article is the emphasis on opposition. It just seems to me there is so much opposition against progress in this area, it is really frustrating. If it isn't this, it's light-rail or high-speed-rail or Mobility 2020, or something like that. I'm getting off track... but don't residents here realize things need to change in order to provide a more thriving economy for the greater good of the area!??? geez... i guess they're happy in their little subdivisions knowing the Magic Kingdom is at their backdoor... along with 600 strip clubs and tattoo shops up & down 17-92.

:wacko: i need some coffee.

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firemick    1

I hate the way Orange County does land planning. Orlando has by far better comprehensive land use planning. These people out in the suburbs i guess would rather have more sprawl than nicely done 20 story residential buildings. I rather see them build up than build out. This a growing university and they should be allowed to build up in that area. I hate all those cookie cutter apartment complexes!!!

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FLClarkKent    146

When I hear the words "university" and "apartment tower" in the same story, I always think back to my university, which had two apartment towers that had the warmth, charm and architectual spirit of a public housing project - in the former Soviet Union.

I'm sure this project would be different, probably quite nice for the kids at ol' UCF.

As for getting tired of hearing about opposition to stuff, I don't think NIMBY-ism is any more prevalent here than anywhere else. Although I think the folks who live near UCF are very vocal, and don't particularly like having UCF as a neighbor.

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demon    6

I shake my head on this one too. They complain about the enviornment if they want to add sprawled out buildings, Then they complain about a land efficient tower.....go figure.

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Dale    589

My wife and I were just discussing the other day how scruffy that shopping plaza has become, given the prime location.

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Dale    589

Actually, I don't care if we get one tall tower, or four ten-story towers, as long as they have those visor things on top.

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GreenHills    0

My wife and I were just discussing the other day how scruffy that shopping plaza has become, given the prime location.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah, ever since Waterford Lakes was built, UC7 (or whatever it's called these days) really went down hill. I hope whatever they do decide to do, it's ambitious.

By the way, in case anyone is interested, I found a site with some pictures of the new housing that is going to have seven floors.

http://khs78.scapehost.com/UCF_Pics.htm

The most recent pictures are at the bottom. I think there are going to be four buildings, although I'm not sure if they'll all be done in time for the beginning of the fall semester. What do you all think? I think it's an improvement. UCF is often fairly criticized for the sprawling nature of its campus. I think these housing units are a step in the right direction. I like how they are located right next to the arena and softball fields.

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cwetteland    89

Actually, I don't care if we get one tall tower, or four ten-story towers, as long as they have those visor things on top.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yesserreee! Gotta have visors.

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retorsky    0

Central Florida Future - News

Issue: 3/7/05

Landmarks to tumble?

By Kate Howell

Word that off-campus shopping plaza University Shoppes may be cleared and remade with 10-story high-rise housing has been met with caution and alarm by many UCF-area businesses and residents.Representatives for Hank Katzen, owner of the 14-acre plaza at University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail, have been investigating the possibility of various development projects for the site, Chris Testerman, manager of Orange County's planning division, said. The latest proposal - a 10-story high-rise that would combine housing and retail space - would present both challenges and opportunities to the businesses in the plaza.

The possibility of adding taller buildings to the plaza is being considered, but zoning regulations limit buildings to 10-stories. The tallest building in the area now is six stories, but the on-campus housing development near the Arena currently being built will include a seventh level.

Richard Koller, co-owner of Broadway Pizza in the University Shoppes, said these rumors have circulated off and on for "two or three years." Koller is supportive of the idea, saying UCF needs more housing to make it a "real campus area." He added that the changes could be good for business. "More people, more kids, eat more pizza, more business," he said.

Koller said more off-campus housing is inevitable. "If you're going to put that many students out here, you have to put them somewhere," he said. "I'll never understand why they don't have more student housing on campus."

If the idea becomes a reality, Koller said he would like to own space in the new building. "This is a good location," he said. "If they had more students right here, I think it would be a good business opportunity. This plaza here, we have no walk-in traffic."

Koller said that although lunch business is good, Broadway Pizza depends on delivery. "We get walk-in business from Siemen's Westinghouse but not from UCF, which is just across the street," he said.

However, the change would also complicate things.

"We would have to consider build-out, how much it would cost to maintain our status here and how much rent would increase," Koller said. "It could be a good thing if it is done with consideration to the local businesses."

Ellen Griswold, co-owner of Greeks and More, said she is fairly certain the change will happen. The embroidery store is one of the newest businesses in the plaza, and Griswold said she plans to stay even if things change.

"When we signed the lease, they told us they were doing this high rise," she said.

"That college is doing nothing but growing," Griswold added. "By being over here we will be able to secure those services."

"My main fear is what's going to happen to my rent," she said. Griswold was only allowed to sign a two-year lease with the option to sign a new lease in the future, but she was told her rent may triple.

With $60,000 worth of equipment and merchandise invested, Griswold is determined to keep her business. "We'll manage," she said. "My investment is serious."

Karen Sgambati, Web site manager for the off-campus bookstore Knight's Corner, is more skeptical. Sgambati said rumors like these have been making rounds for the six years she's worked at Knight's Corner. "They've been talking about it for years," she said. "When I see something get done, I'll believe it."

Sgambati said the new project is potentially a good change, describing the plaza as "kind of run down." If the high-rise is built, Knight's Corner will probably stay, she said. "We'll probably just move," she added. "I don't see our company wanting to back out."

Many employees of the Liquid Cellar, a college sports bar, are against the idea entirely. "I hope it doesn't happen," Liquid Cellar server Patti Titecomb said. "It won't have the same traditional, college atmosphere if it does."

Miguel Carbonetti, a cook at the Liquid Cellar, said rumors of this sort circulate all the time. "We heard condominiums last time," he said. "Then they said no, they weren't going to do it. We hear stories all the time."

Neither Titecomb nor Carbonetti were in a position to comment on whether the Liquid Cellar would move to a new building.

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