OVIEDO, Fla. – Oviedo city leaders discussed possible changes to the redevelopment of the Oviedo Mall during their Monday meeting, ultimately voting to get rid of age restrictions for those ages 55 and up.
Owners sought changes to the original plan, which was submitted last year.
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Documents originally showed that owners wanted to redevelop the mall’s property to include hundreds of apartments dedicated to seniors. However, those behind the project now want to remove the age restrictions and open the units to everyone.
Kevin Hipes, the man with the vision who’s been reviving the Oviedo Mall for nearly a decade now, insists 400 apartments coming to the mall - for everyone - is better for everyone.
“There are thousands of people coming to Oviedo to live,” Hipes said. “I think there’s a demand for 55+ housing when the government doesn’t put limitations and when the government lets the free market work. At the end of the day, if there’s demand for 55+, it’ll be there. These guys want to make money.”
The original plan to put apartments at the Oviedo Mall called for 250 unrestricted units and 175 units age-restricted to those ages 55 and up.
Hipes, the mall’s Development Director, is asking the Oviedo City Council Monday night to remove that restriction and plans to be there at the Council meeting to explain why.
“Are you expecting resistance tonight? Are you expecting people to say, ‘Well, wait a second, you promised us 55+ living, and now you’re changing it?’” News 6 asked Hipes before the city council meeting.
“Well, that’s a valid point. I think they’re going to want to know an explanation. I think that you’re going to want to hear,” Hipes said.
Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said the city’s comprehensive plan requires councilmembers to honor existing property rights. The Oviedo Mall’s existing property rights allow owners to build 400 apartments.
“There will be apartments,” Sladek said. “The only question is are we going to shift from some of them being restricted to all of them being open to anybody.”
Sladek said she expects the city council to vote in agreement to remove the age restriction.
“Well, I like the idea of seniors having a leg up and having an opportunity. At the same time, there was never any agreement the seniors would get a better deal,” Sladek said. “So seniors can still live at the mall. And there’s still the same number of units planned to be built.”
The City’s sore spot, Mitchell Hammock Road — a portion of which is already lined with apartments gridlocked during rush hour — will not be impacted by age-unrestricted apartments at the mall because the people renting those mall apartments won’t use Mitchell Hammock Road, according to Hipes.
“When they live here at the mall site, which is the commercial hub of the community right on 417, they’re going to be driving, but they’re going to be driving to work — typically to Orlando or Lake Mary, not out to Chuluota,” Hipes said. “There’s no reason to go down to Mitchell Hammock.”
“Well, there’s no reason for anyone here to go on Mitchell Hammock,” Sladek said. “The idea is they’re right next to 417, and that’s the reason why this place is so special. You hop on the highway, and you go the opposite direction on Red Bug Road to get to work. Very few people, I would imagine, would be commuting from the mall back into Oviedo.”
The plans still include a 124-room hotel and mixed-use retail spaces.
The Oviedo city council voted unanimously to remove the age restrictions.