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Townhouse Creeps on Lake Eola Heights Historic Neighborhood

This project will cause the loss of a home built in 1921 and place a 56.5-ft high townhouse project on the edge of a max 35-ft high nationally historic protected neighborhood.

The Kinchla—Fountain Vu 5 Townhouses got the thumbs up from the Appearance Review Board Staff Thursday after a February 2018 courtesy review and March final review. They recommended approval for the Major Certificate of Appearance with conditions. The Municipal Planning Board public hearing for this project is scheduled for March 20, 2018.

The developer, Mark Kinchla, stated in the Master Plan request that one of the benefits for the future residents of Fountain VU 5 is the "close proximity to the historic district." Kinchla is an Orlando Historic Preservation Award Winner and is responsible for several downtown developments including Fern Creek 20 and Sansara, a former church.

It's ironic because this project will cause the loss of a home built in 1921 and place a 56.5-ft high townhouse project on the edge of a max 35-ft high nationally historic protected neighborhood.

The project is only possible because of the property and home's long and odd history. The property and the home built in 1921 were supposed to be included in the Lake Eola Heights Historic District, but due to a statement in 1989 by a City Council person and the City siding with the property owner in a legal dispute, the property was left out of the historic district, therefor left unprotected from development.

Changes Listed in the Final Review:

Between the ARB member’s discussion during the February Courtesy Review and the concerns addressed in the letters received from residents of the Lake Eola Heights Historic District, several project-related items were identified that either needed additional information provided or required additional design revisions or considerations. 

Lake Eola Heights Historic District residents suggested the project should face Broadway not Ridgewood. The lot across the street has the same site geometry and the house on it faces Broadway. But, Staff said "the site geometry is more efficient if the townhouse units fronted onto E. Ridgewood St. and 323 Broadway is "only one" structure along Ridgewood that faces Broadway.

Staff also noted the Presbyterian Church on the north side of the same block does not front Broadway. That church was constructed in 1925, four years after the house. Also, that church lot's site geometry isn't the same as the project's.

The architecture has continued to evolve since the February 2018 Courtesy Review, but not much. The 4th and 5th floor have been shoved 2-feet towards Ridgewood to alter the massing. The third floor cornice has been widened making the southern shift of the 4th and 5th floor appear to be even greater. The separation wall between the units on the 4th floor terrace has been reduced in height, too.

Additional windows have been added to the 3rd floor to accent the 14-foot floor-to-ceiling height of that floor. Windows have also been added to the south façade of the 5th floor to enhance the Lake Eola view. The most substantial increase in windows has occurred on the north façade that faces the historic district; the north façade now has almost as many windows as the front or Ridgewood façade.

Staff felt the Fountain Vu5 project should address and respect the Broadway Ave. frontage, so a scallop shaped canopy has been added to the plans over the side door.

ARB Staff stated  "the applicant has made substantial strides defining and refining the architecture and appearance of the Fountain Vu5 project and is therefore recommending approval so the project can move forward."


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