Heritage Park Historic Downtown Sanford

$50 Million Catalyst Site ‘Heritage Park’ in Historic Downtown Sanford to Break Ground ….

… in approximately 12 months.

Big things are on the horizon in Sanford, Florida! Heritage Park is a forthcoming 3-block downtown waterfront neighborhood which will be located in the heart of Historic Downtown Sanford. Currently being developed by Sanford Waterfront Partners, LLC, this project serves to help ease the demand for affordable rental units we are feeling on a countywide level, as well as provide a humongous influx of new residents, restaurants, and commerce. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the key members of the development team, Miami-based architect Richard Heisenbottle, about the forthcoming project.

Commonly referred to as the ‘Catalyst Site,’ Heritage Park is a $50-$55 million dollar project that city officials expect will provide a stimulus to the entire downtown area. Once completed, hopefully 36 months from now, the development will be filled with thousands of new Sanfordites who will live, work, and play within walking distance of our booming downtown corridor. Heritage Park will cover 295,000 SF of new construction covering 3 city blocks between 1st St. and Lake Monroe, comprised of 23-25 new buildings. The plans call for 235 residential rental units – flats, loft-style apartments, townhomes, and live-work units – along with 45000 SF of retail, restaurant, and office space. With Seminole County currently at a vacancy rate of a paltry 2%, these attractive, new units are sure to be in demand.

Two of the three blocks of planned development are specifically located north of 1st street, between Sanford Ave on the east and Palmetto Ave on the West, and South of E. Seminole Blvd. The other block is located north of Commercial St, between Hood Ave and Palmetto Ave, south of E. Seminole Blvd. (see map)

These development plans point Historic Downtown Sanford towards a future with more foot traffic visiting and shopping at downtown retailers, a significant amount of new job opportunities, more great nightlife and entertainment options, and a healthier budget enjoying newly generated business and property taxes. Richard Heisenbottle sees Heritage Park as a “long term hold,” and states that the developers have no plans on flipping the property once completed. He loves Sanford and is ‘going to be here’ to see the project through.

You can expect Heritage Park to look and feel to be consistent with the ambience, architecture, feel, and style of Historic Downtown Sanford. Being located in the historic district, all construction will by law be in accord with the existing historic development standards. Additionally, Sanford Waterfront Partners has worked with both the Sanford Historic Trust and the City of Sanford Historic Preservation Officer on concepts and aspects that not only comply with all of these historic regulations, but also complement and contextualize with the surrounding downtown area.

Richard’s architecture firm expects to have the final designs of Heritage Park to Sanford’s Historic Preservation Board for their approval within the next 6 months, and they are very conscious that Heritage Park “needs to fit in, contextually and architecturally, to feel like it was built over time. This is conceptualized as a ‘new urbanism’ community, and walking through it, you know immediately that you are in Sanford.” Detailing, down to features such as oversized double-hung window sizing found in Sanford’s historic homes, will be reflected in Heritage Park as the group seeks to carry over a matching and strong architectural context.

The multi-million dollar question, of course, is when will Sanford Waterfront Partners begin construction on the site? This deal was signed nearly two years ago, but the site needed some significant work done before any construction could occur. This work began with a project, completed last year, that stabilized the soil between Sanford Ave and Palmetto Ave, as the soil in the development area was pulled from Lake Monroe during a seawall repair in the 1920s was not suitable for development.

Per communication with Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte, the City of Sanford approved, and is in the midst of, a $1.2 million, 6-month project relocating the storm water, sanitary sewer, water and electrical lines in the area, some of which are over 100 years old in some places and in desperate need of replacement. This work began in March 2019, and Mr. Bonaparte is in full expectation that Sanford Waterfront Partners and Sanford’s public private partnership is moving forward. More details on this project are available on the City of Sanford website, provided by the Public Works department.

In the meantime, as stated above, Sanford Waterfront Partners expects in the next 6 months to have the final design submitted to the Historic Preservation Board for approval, and then within another 6 months to complete the construction and engineering documents and have the needed permitting accomplished. After that, the development group expects a 2-year construction period, from start to finish of all three blocks. Of course, those buildings and units begun first will be occupied beforehand, but the expectation is that all 235 units will be completed and occupied by early 2022. Importantly, these units are expected to be affordable rental options, with over 20% of the units being studio and loft apartments.

Heritage Park’s vision is to synthesize a new development within the existing historical, artistic, brick-lined, “Sanfording” ambiance that makes us the most vibrant community in Central Florida. Their timeline is to have shovels in the ground in 12 months, and completed in 36. This will provide Sanford a true catalyst that will have a huge positive effect on Historic Downtown Sanford.

Daniel R. Lewis

Daniel R. Lewis is an Attorney, Realtor, and entrepreneur who is one of Sanford’s most prominent business leaders. Attorney Lewis has served on the board of directors for the Sanford Chamber of Commerce, as a Commissioner on the City of Sanford Planning and Zoning board, runs a large non-profit entity, and has otherwise been involved in countless large-scale growth projects in Sanford, Florida. He is a two-tour United States Air Force veteran who served his nation in time of war, is heavily involved in a variety of local civic, community, and charitable functions, and owns the most recognized legal practice in Sanford.