Town council pushes Orange Park Plaza a step closer to reality

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ORANGE PARK – The Town Council approved amendments to zoning and land-use maps Tuesday night for the developers of the project known as the Orange Park Plaza.

The Orange Park Plaza, which is proposed for Kingsley Avenue, has been a hot topic amongst the town council and town residents. In order for the project to move forward, its land-use and zoning had to be approved and the council voted to make a small-scale amendment to the “future land use map of the 2040 comprehensive plan from low density residential and commercial low intensity to mixed use” and to change the property to a planned unit development. Both amendments received a 4-0 vote in favor of the changes.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work,” Provision Impact Ventures’ Robert Jacobson said. “The feedback of the community is vital to the effort. We’ve had tremendous help from the community...that is helpful...and rational...and we’ve taken it into consideration.”

Jacobson said that site plans have continued to change in order to make the project a better fit for everybody, residents and the developers include. When the mixed-use land status was put into place and approved, there was a stipulation that the project must reach the required 20 points for density. Jacobson said that he and the team have complete confidence that they’ll not only meet the 20 points required, but exceed it and reach 30 points.

That is just to show that we’ve followed what we’ve been instructed to do, Jacobson said. In regards to the PUD request, which is a control of uses on the property, Bhide & Hall Architects’ Brian Sawyer said some of the concerns the development team has heard are parking.

He said, “Parking. Is it adequate? How would it affect traffic? What would the effect of the south property line be? Is there too much project intensity? What about the school district?”

Sawyer said Kingsley Avenue at the Orange Avenue intersection retains a Level of Service B designation from the Florida Department of Transportation during both of its peak hours. The Kingsley Avenue at De Barry Avenue intersection reaches a LOS B during morning peak hours and a LOS C during afternoon peak hours. The FDOT minimum standards for both intersections are LOS D.

“After project traffic is added, both intersections are projected to continue to operate at the same overall LOS as they do currently,” Provision Impact Ventures’ presentation slide reads. “The overall peak parking demand is anticipated to be well below the provided 595 parking spaces as well.”

An “In Summary” slide following the presentation’s slides about the concerns the developers have seen raised reads as follows: “This project meets the intent of the Comprehensive Plan (the Town’s instructions for future growth). There is no evidence that it will have a negative effect on the Town or the surrounding properties. In fact, we have provided a Parking Study which indicates the proposed parking is sufficient for the development and a Traffic Study which indicates the LOS will not be below Town of Orange Park/Department of Transportation Standards.”

The Orange Park Plaza is a 9.8- acre, 196 dwelling unit mixed-use property project that will be developed on Kingsley Avenue. It will consist of 120,000 square feet of commercial use property – 60,000 square feet of office space and 60,000 square feet of retail space – and 20,000 of community center and multi-purpose use property. Approximately 1.3 acres of the property will be for active recreation and 2.6 acres of it will be passive open space consisting of greenery and more.

The information provided came from the developer’s presentation.

"The council is done with it now — the council’s decision is final," Town Manager Sarah Campbell said. "Any future decisions will happen in the site-plan approval process which will go through the Planning and Zoning Board. Once ready to submit the site, the plans will go through a review at different departments before going to the Planning and Zoning Board."

"From the town’s perspective, sure, I think Mr. Jacobson needs to finalize investors and leaseholders. On the business side, we can’t speak to that. The council’s decision was final as far as the project goes though."

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