New apartments planned for old SunTrust bank site

Downtown Sanford hasn’t seen new construction for nearly a decade, but 2017 may bring not one, but two major construction projects.

The first is the much publicized “catalyst project,” a mix of apartments, retail and office space to be built on 5.5 acres of vacant city-owned land between 1st Street and Seminole Boulevard near Sanford and Palmetto avenues.

The second project was just announced last week. In a story I wrote for, a Sanford firm, Wilson Center Inc., says it will build 96 apartment units and 14,000 square feet of live/work space (seven units), on the northwest corner of 1st Street and Oak Avenue.

Locals will know the 2-acre property as the grassy area where the old SunTrust Bank (formerly the Florida State Bank) once stood. That mid century-era building was razed, and SunTrust rebuilt a smaller modern structure.

The proposed project calls for three-story apartments fronting Oak Avenue on the east and an access road on the west. The Oak Avenue side would feature an urban-style design with two-bedroom apartments on the first floor, and one- and two-bedroom units on the upper floors. The west side of the project would be designed as garden-style apartments.

The two-story live/work space will front 1st Street, and is tentatively planned to be sold in 2,000-square-foot units. The living space would be on the second floor, with office or retail on the first floor.

The apartments will be market rate, that is, lease rates will not be reduced through the use of government housing incentives.

Wilson Center Inc. is connected to the old Suncor Development LLC, which built the 6-story Gateway at RiverWalk condos overlooking Lake Monroe. That building, which is a Tiger Woods tee shot (in his prime) away from the proposed apartments, was completed in 2008 and the last new construction project in downtown.

Ron Semans will oversee the project. His father-in-law, Bob Horian, will consult on the project.

The proposed plans have yet to be submitted to the City of Sanford planning department. Semans plans to submit plans to the city this month and hopes to break ground in the first quarter of 2017.

“We want to work closely with city staff to ensure this fits the character of downtown, and we don’t think that timeline is too ambitious,” Seman said.

Semans’ project comes as the city is finalizing plans with Sanford Waterfront Partners LLC to build the catalyst site, about three blocks to the east. City Commissioners are expected to discuss a developer’s agreement with Sanford Waterfront Partners at their Sept. 26 meeting.

Venny Torre, a principal with Sanford Waterfront Partners, has said he also expects to break ground in early 2017.

Click to enlarge site plan

Click to enlarge