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Residents welcome Payne Park Village plans

A once-controversial development is getting a much warmer reception under new ownership, but the School Avenue project still has a few hurdles to clear.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. June 30, 2016
Martin Frame showed residents examples of David Weekley Homes projects in other areas at Tuesday's community workshop.
Martin Frame showed residents examples of David Weekley Homes projects in other areas at Tuesday's community workshop.
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For an hour Tuesday evening, residents peppered the prospective owner of an 8.7-acre site on School Avenue with questions about his company’s plans for the land.

Despite the variety of topics raised at the community workshop at City Hall, the event concluded with consensus among the audience. The proposed 135-unit residential complex was hailed as a welcome change from the current property — and from the previous plans for development.

David Weekley Homes, a Houston-based homebuilder, is under contract to purchase the vast majority of the land that comprised the proposed Payne Park Village development. Although the pre-recession plans for the land included a mixed-use complex with buildings up to seven stories tall, David Weekley Homes has a less intensive vision for the property.

Martin Frame, a land acquisition manager for the homebuilder, outlined that vision at Tuesday’s workshop. The company plans to construct 135 three- and four-story homes, reduced from 238 units in the previous proposal for the property. Frame said the homes are expected to start in the $300,000 range and top out in the $600,000 range.

The project will be the company’s third in the region, following ongoing developments in Manatee County and Laurel Park.

Planning consultant Joel Freedman said the group hoped to formally submit plans to the city in June. Because the changes to the site plan need to go before the City Commission, it will take until at least October for David Weekley Homes to gain the necessary approvals and close the sale.

If all goes according to schedule, the initial work on the property should begin in early 2017, and a model unit could be completed about 18 months from now, Frame said. Freedman suggested the entire project could be complete by the end of 2018.

Residents from Alta Vista and other surrounding areas were happy to hear about the reduced scope of the plans at Tuesday’s meeting. The earlier Payne Park Village proposals were met with strong neighborhood opposition.

Robin Welles, an Alta Vista resident who has been living in the area for more than three decades, said she is 100% in favor of David Weekley Homes’ proposal, calling it a significant improvement over the previous plans for the property. She said she hoped to see the project completed even sooner than expected, if possible.

“I’m hoping it’s expedited,” Wells said. “We’re so tired of looking at that dump that’s there now.”


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