De­vel­op­ers plan­ning fu­tur­is­tic com­mu­nity

Old Flea World plans in­clude apart­ments and com­mer­cial space

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Martin E. Co­mas Or­lando Sentinel

A Fort Laud­erdale com­pany plans to build a fu­tur­is­tic com­mu­nity on the old Flea World prop­erty in Semi­nole County that promises high-rise apart­ment build­ings with rooftop food gar­dens, land­ing pads for drone de­liv­er­ies and ma­chines that cap­ture drink­ing wa­ter from the air.

It also has so many miles of path­ways that the de­vel­oper thinks res­i­dents will want to ditch their cars for bi­cy­cles or self-driv­ing shut­tle buses.

“This is very starry-eyed, fu­ture ex­cit­ing stuff,” Semi­nole Com­mis­sioner Lee Con­stan­tine said at a re­cent county meet­ing. “It seems at some point we’re go­ing to have the Jet­sons run­ning around here.”

Known as Park­side Place, the new de­vel­op­ment is slated for the now lev­eled, weed-filled 110 acres that re­cently was the site of what was long billed as “Amer­ica’s Largest Flea Mar­ket” on U.S. High­way 17-92, west of Ron­ald Reagan Boule­vard.

The pro­posed de­vel­op­ment would fea­ture 4,828 apart­ments in 10-story high struc­tures, 1.4 mil­lion square feet for shops, of­fices and restau­rants, a 250-room ho­tel, an in­de­pen­dent liv­ing fa­cil­ity along with parks and recre­ational trails, ac­cord­ing to plans sub­mit­ted to the county by Palmeira Hold­ings LLC.

Palmeira of­fi­cials also are con­sid­er­ing build­ing a pedes­trian bridge span­ning busy U.S. 17-92 that would give res­i­dents ac­cess to the nearby Semi­nole State Col­lege and county gov­ern­ment com­plex – that in­cludes the crim­i­nal court­house and Sher­iff ’s Of­fice.

“We want to cre­ate a new life­style,” said Karim Is­mail, Palmeira’s co-founder and co-CEO. “Think of it as a pop-up town. We saw the abil­ity to have life, work, play, shop­ping all to­gether in one lo­ca­tion.”

If de­vel­op­ment plans are ap­proved by state and county of­fi­cials, Is­mail ex­pects shov­els will go into the ground in 2020 and the en­tire de­vel­op­ment com­pleted in phases by 2032, “give or take.”

At­tor­ney Hal Kan­tor of Or­lando, who rep­re­sents Palmeira told com­mis­sion­ers Park­side Place will be one of the largest de­vel­op­ment projects in the county’s his­tory and gen­er­ate an­nual prop­erty tax rev­enues of as much as $29 mil­lion. The con­struc­tion alone could draw as many as 5,700

jobs, he said.

“This is some­thing,” Kan­tor said. “This is some­thing.”

Palmeira of­fi­cials said the de­vel­op­ment will be con­structed with as much as $2 bil­lion of pri­vate eq­uity from in­vestors.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to see that some­one wants to plop that much money in Semi­nole County,” com­mis­sion Chair­man John Ho­ran said.

Ho­ran and other county of­fi­cials pointed out that the old Flea World site was long ear­marked by Semi­nole as a “cat­a­lyst de­vel­op­ment site” or an area for high-den­sity de­vel­op­ment that would at­tract ad­di­tional com­mer­cial growth to the cor­ri­dor.

In fact, Semi­nole in Feb­ru­ary 2017 gave then Flea World prop­erty owner Syd Levy and his com­pany 17-92 Five Points LLC $740,000 to help pay for bull­doz­ing Flea World’s old ven­dor booths, go-cart track and ticket coun­ters. County of­fi­cials said it was a way to elim­i­nate the old eye­sore and en­cour­age new de­vel­op­ment.

“It’s right at the cen­ter of our county,” Ho­ran said. “We’ve been pretty re­li­gious about de­vel­op­ing in ar­eas where we have ser­vices, rather than in our ru­ral area. It’s a plan that Semi­nole County has had since the early 1990s.”

County se­nior plan­ner Danalee Pe­tyk said Park­side Place is part of a larger trend among de­vel­op­ers to cre­ate “walk­a­ble, city-like places” rather than the more com­mon “car-de­pen­dent neigh­bor­hoods” in sub­ur­ban ar­eas.

Be­fore it closed in 2015 and the rick­ety go-cart track was bull­dozed, Flea World was one of Semi­nole’s main at­trac­tions.

Hun­dreds of booths of­fered bar­gains on just about ev­ery­thing — in­clud­ing $5 watches, cam­ou­flage pants, Fred Flint­stone bob­ble heads, shock ab­sorbers, kitschy por­traits of Je­sus painted on black vel­vet, and plates of greasy food as big as car tires.

There was an Elvis im­per­son­ator, a den­tist to clean your teeth, a lawyer to give you le­gal ad­vice and even an un­der­taker on hand.

Levy died Jan. 29 and the prop­erty was placed in a trust.

Rizwan Jessa, whose of­fice is ad­ja­cent to the prop­erty, said he looks for­ward to the new de­vel­op­ment.

“It’s been an eye­sore,” Jessa said of the site. “But I see a lot of pos­i­tives [with Park­side Place]. It would re­ju­ve­nate the area. This would re­ally bring in a wow to the whole area.”

SENTINEL FILE

Flea World, which evolved into a col­or­ful land­mark, closed in 2015 to make way for a mas­sive mixed-use de­vel­op­ment.

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