College Park residents should tune in to a newly proposed development that could reshape the neighborhood. On board from the Pollack Shores Real Estate Group is a 228-unit development of apartments for the College Park neighborhood in the area between Smith and Princeton, east of Edgewater. But for many residents who attended the community meeting on May 20th or who have learned about the plans, concerns are clouding the proposal and questioning the impact it may have on College Park.
Sure, the Pollack Shores RE Group, based out of Atlanta, has nice renderings to look at (who doesn’t in this town these days), but there are some serious issues that demand more scrutiny. The first question that comes to mind may be, more condos and apartments in College Park? The more multi-story buildings and high-end apartments that come into the area, the more changes will hit the residential character of the single-family home neighborhood. Leases for the new “Princeton at College Park” will be 7 month and 12 month leases, so it is not a promotion of long-term neighborhood residents. So who is this development really for?
According to the Pollack Shores RE Group, the developers are seeking “young professionals” who will make at least $70,000 per year. Developers expect the new “young professional” tenants to pay rents starting at $1600-$1700 a month! Now, first of all, Orlando ranks as the lowest paying job market in the country and Orlando also has the largest share of jobs — 37 percent — paying less than $25,000 a year. Second, it is very rare to non-existent to find young professionals making $70,000 in this area, although Mayor Dyer’s cronyism hire of an unqualified campaign staffer would meet the salary requirements. Meanwhile, current residents who continue to be forced out of their homes by foreclosure or those who are struggling to keep up with already climbing rents could not touch these properties with a stick.
It seems like the “Princeton at College Park” development by the out-of-town Pollack Shores RE Group is really all about redevelopment and reshaping the image of College Park. But it’s also a big opportunity for the developers to make a lot of money, and looking at the track record of the out-of-state firm, that’s likely what’s at play here as well.
For instance, the most recent Orlando project by the group was the Steelhouse development. But they sold the development before the first tenant ever signed up. Basically the Pollack Shores RE Group seems to be a pump and dump scheme to build an apartment complex and then sell it to the next buyer and cash in, with no regard to long-term planning and quality of the development. Just think about it, Pollack Shores RE Group builds it for $40 million, only to immediately sell it for $60 million and they have no risk, no accountability but huge profit. At the same time, rents just keep on climbing and more character of the existing neighborhood is impacted. And the developers do not deny they may sell it after construction.
There’s also a big question surrounding the need and supposed demand for all these high-end apartment developments. Just in the area, new developments have been built on Mills by Fresh Market, as well as near Florida Hospital, and not to forget the many new housing options built in the latest Baldwin Park development phase.
This new development would also spill over more traffic onto Edgewater and surrounding neighborhood streets that already demand more attention and infrastructure repairs by the city.
In College Park, it sounds like the over-development advocates are at it again. As the plans are sparking concerns from residents, the Orlando Municipal Planning Board (MPB) is scheduled to discuss the proposal at their meeting on June 17th at 8:30am. This is the best place to make your voice heard on the matter.
However, can’t make the meeting? Don’t worry, you can submit your comments in writing to the Municipal Planning Board by emailing Secretary, Lourdes Diaz, at firstname.lastname@example.org and the planner on the project, Jason Burton, at jason.burton@cityoforlando by June 16th. You should also directly contact Commissioner Robert Stuart by calling him at 407-246-2003 or emailing him at Robert.Stuart@cityoforlando.net. You can get all the Orlando City Council information here.
When it comes to over-development, Orlando has definitely seen its share of shenanigans and this proposal sure looks like another one. And one that’s just not needed in College Park.