By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
Residents who came out to speak or hear the latest on “Camino Square” left a five-hour-plus Community Redevelopment Agency meeting without an outcome.
The vote on the proposed redevelopment project has been postponed until April 8.
Between now and then, the developer will work with the city to come up with solutions to traffic concerns.
The site is the old Winn Dixie Plaza at 171 W. Camino Real, just east of SW 3rd Ave. and about a block west of Fresh Market.
The proposal is a two-phase project involving a residential and retail component on 9 acres. The project has been in the works for about two and a half years.
“This is the one [land] parcel in the Downtown that is still blighted today, with a
sober house to the west and railroad tracks to the east,” said attorney for the project Ele Zachariades. “The project meets code and asks for no technical deviations or variances. It asks for no favors.”
The development arm of Florida Crystals Inc., FCI Residential, wants to build two, 8-story apartment buildings. There would be 350 residential units with 271,493-square-feet in structured parking. Building 1 would contain 199 units and 345 parking spaces. Building 2 would have 151 units and 286 parking spaces – for a total 631 parking spaces provided, surpassing the 619 required.
The $80 million rental complex is expected to generate $880,000 in net annual tax increment revenue.
Peter Flint, Senior Director of Development for Kimco Realty Corporation, which owns the plaza and is partnering with FCI Residential on Camino Square, said the retail component will consist of two, one-story retail buildings with 167 parking spaces.
Even though staff recommended approval on the project, council members acting as the CRA board and residents voiced concerns over traffic to the area, especially with the addition of the Brightline train to the area.
Traffic expert John Donaldson said the project is expected to generate 565 new daily
trips; 151 at morning peak hour, and 17 at evening peak hour. The study was done over two years ago before the Camino Bridge closed and before the train began operating.
Many of the residents who spoke against the project cited the bottleneck traffic they are already experiencing while driving east on Camino Real.
“This particular project is very dangerous,” said Al Johnson, President of Camino Gardens HOA. “It’s an invitation to disaster regarding the traffic.”
The developer has taken some measures to deal with traffic including adding both a separate left-hand and right-hand turn lane exiting SW 3rd Ave.