Sanford city commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a South Florida developer that is expected to jumpstart development in downtown.

The MOU, which city manager Norton Bonaparte described as a prenup agreement, spells out how the city and Coral Gables-based Torre Companies will move forward with developing a 5.5-acre, 3-city block area along Sanford’s waterfront.

Torre has agreed to an aggressive schedule that includes detailed real estate market and financial research as well as at least two all-day public meetings to gather input from the community. In addition, Torre must:

  • Design a master plan
  • Formulate, in conjunction with city staff, a preliminary development agreement for consideration by the city commission.
  • Perform geotechnical assessments of the site, as deemed necessary.

The City will be required to complete a Phase I environmental assessment and a Phase II assessment if needed.

The MOU is good for 240 days (8 months). At The end of the MOU, The city and Torre will enter a development agreement to actually build the master plan, or either side can back out of the deal for a $225,000 buy-out clause.

Still to be determined is how much Torre will pay for the city-owned land. The MOU states the company will not pay more than $2.4 million, or about $430,000 per acre. A final price will be determined after the real estate market research is completed and the master plan created.

The project, referred to by city officials as the “catalyst site,” is considered a once-in-a-generation project that would jump-start new construction downtown and better connect 1st Street to the waterfront.

It is 5.5 acres of city-owned land. It includes the 2 full city blocks, stretching from 1st Street to Seminole Boulevard between Palmetto and Sanford avenues. It also includes the parking lot on the east side of the Seminole County Civil Courthouse. The site is almost 3 city blocks.

It is called the “catalyst site” because the city wants it to be a catalyst for other development in downtown. Not counting the site, there are about 100 acres of developable property in downtown and the immediate surrounding area.

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