Six respondents to a request for proposals for the sale and development of Wellington’s K-Park land made presentations last week to the Wellington Village Council and village staff members.
The meetings were held Wednesday, Dec. 17 in a closed session, but the proceedings were released on the village’s web site shortly afterward.
The 66-acre site at the southwest corner of State Road 7 and Stribling Way has long been a point of contention, with past councils arguing about what, if anything, ultimately should be built on the site. It was originally purchased as future park land.
The respondents were Bainbridge-Brefrank K-Park Joint Venture, Divosta/JKM Developers, Lennar, Reinvent America, Stiles and Wellington Gardens Partners.
Most of the potential developers stressed their connections to the Wellington area when noting the benefits of their projects.
Wellington resident Chuck Mineo, representing Wellington Gardens, credited landscape architect Jon Schmidt with assembling their team.
“That’s kind of where it all started,” Mineo said. “Jon has been with us since the very beginning over a year ago. In a lot of ways, I think if it weren’t for Jon, we probably wouldn’t be here today.”
He also pointed out that part of his team, Rick Gonzalez of REG Architects, developed Wellington’s municipal complex and amphitheater.
Stiles was represented by attorney Marty Perry, who said what they offered was consistent with the theme of what makes the village a great hometown — low density, low intensity in an upscale community that serves the needs of everybody. He pointed out that he has worked with Wellington since the 1970s, years before incorporation.
“The goal here, I think, is consistent with what both Roger Wellington and Bink Glisson envisioned for Wellington,” Perry said.
John Markey, representing Divosta/JKM Developers, said he moved to Wellington before it incorporated to raise his family, and that Divosta offered a balance of what is right for the community and what is financially feasible.
Markey said he learned from talking to people in the community that they were concerned about having assisted living for seniors and no more commercial strip malls with a sea of parking, but mixed uses on the scale of Mizner Park in Boca Raton or CityPlace in West Palm Beach. “Being a dyed-in-the-wool New Urbanist, I think that is the right solution,” he said.
Richard Schechter, chairman of the Bainbridge Companies, said Bainbridge and Brefrank have had an enormous impact on the Village of Wellington.
“Most of the high-quality rental apartments and most of the high-quality retail have been developed by ourselves or Brefrank. I’m a longtime resident of the village, and Brefrank has owned land here for about 60 years, so we have a tremendous connection to the area,” Schechter said. “This project, I think, is extremely important to us, so we want it to be an exceptional project in every way.”
Reinvent America was represented by Donaldson Hearing, who said part of their team is Scott Architecture, which has been responsible for projects including Pineapple Grove in Delray Beach, the Delray Marketplace and numerous other mixed-use projects.
Hearing said his team is focused on aspects of sustainable economic growth, innovation and high-technology jobs. “It’s a strategic platform for creating an environment that’s conducive to business, conducive to connecting, communicating and to collaborating together as professionals in one environment,” he said.
Bob Bentz of Land Design South, representing Lennar, said their proposal was from one company only, as opposed to others.
“We think that’s a unique feature only Lennar has,” Bentz said. “For example, if you want more commercial or more single-family or more apartments or whatever, or none of those particular elements, you have that flexibility. You don’t have any internal struggles within the company itself.”
The council, which heard the presentations but did not debate their merits at the closed-door meeting, did hear a staff analysis of the different projects.
Staff found that the positive points of the Bainbridge proposal were that it had central lakes, connectivity, good residential amenities, water used as a buffer to the west and nice architecture. Minuses were that the building types lacked diversity, too much surface parking, that “curb appeal” from Stribling Way needs work, that there is limited open space and limited complementary mix with no entertainment, limited office, retail and restaurants, with more focus on residential. Bainbridge’s mix was 13 percent commercial, 49 percent residential and 38 percent open space/lakes.
Divosta’s positive points were central lakes and a hotel as the main feature on the SR 7 frontage. Minuses included minimum buffers, no integration of uses, typical residential development, limited detail of commercial layout, limited open space, parking garages not integrated into commercial buildings, limited mix and unit diversity, dead-end residential streets and assisted living vs. senior housing. Divosta’s mix was 23 percent commercial, 45 percent residential and 32 percent open space/lakes.
Lennar’s pluses included connectivity, an open space layout, commercial layout with a boulevard, pedestrian circulation, perimeter buffers and entertainment uses. Minuses included limited integration of uses and a lack of a senior lifestyle. Lennar’s mix was 26 percent commercial, 39 percent residential and 36 percent open space/lakes.
Reinvent America’s pluses included an amphitheater, although in a poor location, employment uses with a mix of service and higher wage opportunities, maximum use of property, separation of uses and entertainment. Minuses included limited open space, a poor senior living layout with a lack of connection to SR 7, more design detail needed for elements, the need for a better lake design and that residential space was too linear. Reinvent America’s mix was 42 percent commercial, 34 percent residential and 24 percent open space/lakes.
Stiles’ pluses included a proposed congregate living facility’s proximity to commercial, commercial layout and hotel arrangement, entertainment and lake design used as an amenity. Minuses included no residential connectivity, a single-family subdivision dominating the plan and congregate living vs. senior housing. Stiles’ mix was 20 percent commercial, 64 percent residential and 17 percent open space/lakes.
Wellington Gardens’ pluses included entertainment uses, a campus layout, a “green” corridor, a senior living layout, good incorporation of water, good diversity of uses, a balance of intensity/density, higher adaptivity, and a passive park and open space. Minuses included exposed parking garages, residential roadway connections, awkward SR 7 connections and the lack of connections of commercial to senior lifestyles. Wellington Gardens’ proposed mix of uses was 41 percent commercial, 32 percent residential and 27 percent open space/lakes.
The council also received a financial overview on each project, estimating its impacts on tax revenue, impact fees and more.
The price offered for the land ranged from $16 million by Lennar to $25 million by Bainbridge. All the other bids were $20 million or slightly above. All proposals included between 100 and 200 hotel rooms.
The council plans to discuss the selection in a public meeting early in 2015.
Videos and information about the bidding is on the village’s web site at www.wellingtonfl.gov/departments/purchasing/solicitations.
ABOVE: The Wellington Municipal Complex.