Zoners OK Medical Building, Starbucks For Plaza On SR 7

Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board approved a comprehensive plan amendment and a development order amendment Wednesday, Nov. 8 allowing a medical office building and an additional fast-food restaurant at the Village Green Center, located at the northwestern intersection of State Road 7 and Stribling Way.

The shopping plaza already has a number of buildings and fast-food restaurants in place, anchored by a Trader Joe’s grocery store.

The comprehensive plan amendment would allow a medical office building within the shopping plaza, making it a permitted use and reducing the maximum allowable square footage for the overall project.

The development order amendment sought to modify Building F from a bank with a drive-through to a fast-food restaurant with a drive-through, and to allow the medical use within Building D of the site plan. As of now, the additional fast-food space is slated for a future Starbucks location.

“We’ll be reducing the overall square footage in the project… and then adding the ability for the medical office in Building D,” agent Kate DeWitt of the planning firm Cotleur & Hearing said. “The request to modify Building F, from the bank with a drive-through to the fast food, is really a result of current market demands. In the last five years, the applicant has been trying to secure the bank tenant, and I think with just the current state of retail banking, it’s not as vibrant as it once was. So, that was really the impetus for the project that’s coming before you today.”

The Starbucks is slated to have a one-lane drive-through in the proposed amendment.

“All of the stacking distances that are required per the code have been met,” DeWitt said. “We’ve also met the requirements of the recently improved zoning text amendment that requires additional substantial landscaping to be provided where the drive-through is, so it provides screening in that area.”

The staff report stated that there has been an increase in demand for medical space in the surrounding area since the initial approval of the Village Green Center. DeWitt agreed that the proposed medical office should be a welcomed addition to the plaza and the community.

“When you look at all the medical users that have really come to this area, it’s becoming a hub for medical and healthcare,” DeWitt said. “You have Palms West, Wellington Regional, Joe DiMaggio, and we have the Cleveland Clinic occupying a bay on the same parcel as this — so, you have all this synergy that is really an opportunity to continue that medical growth within the village.”

PZA Board Vice Chair Kenneth Kopp asked about the reduction in square footage and its main purpose. Kopp also wanted to know if there were confirmed future occupants for the new components.

“The proposed square footage is reflective of the built environment, aside from the one building that hasn’t been built, which is the building that we’re talking about tonight. But, there won’t be anything else that will be built onsite,” DeWitt said. “There isn’t a tenant secured at this point.”

Board Member Alan Shullman asked whether the Starbucks location will see a rise in traffic compared to what a bank with a drive-through might have created.

“In terms of the traffic, the bank use would ultimately, most likely have needed a drive-through use, so you’re still having that same pattern,” DeWitt said. “With the bank being substituted with the Starbucks, and the retail with just that change, there is a slight increase with that traffic, but by reducing the rest of the overall center that’s not being used, it was an overall reduction.”

PZA Board Chair Elizabeth Mariaca asked DeWitt if the reduction to the center reduced the overall footprint of the space being utilized.

“It’s not really a reduction of the footprint. It’s just really, I think, more of the initial stages of the project,” DeWitt said. “More square footage was secured from a traffic perspective than was ultimately used.”

Shullman brought up the parking ratio at Building D with the proposed medical office.

“Typically, my experience has been that medical requires a greater parking ratio, typically like 5-1, where general office is 3-1, yet the documents state that it’s the same,” he said.

DeWitt said after staff review, they met the parking requirements for the medical office.

Growth Management Director Bob Basehart confirmed the code compliance.

“In our code, the parking requirements for medical and general office are the same, five spaces per thousand,” he said. “That’s the same we require for retail as well.”

Both items regarding changes to the Village Green Center were approved unanimously.

The items next head to the Wellington Village Council for approval, but a meeting date has not yet been set.