Lake Mary will soon become the latest Central Florida city to spur development around its SunRail station in the hope that riders will live, shop and dine in the city's core.
Commissioners have given a developer preliminary approval to build a four-story building with 200 luxury apartments on city-owned land along East Crystal Lake Drive, across from where a SunRail stop is under construction.
Called the Station House, the apartment complex also will feature a parking garage with public spaces. Apartments will range from one to three bedrooms.
After developer Epoch Properties wins final approval for the project — likely to happen in March — it will buy the 3.2-acre parcel from Lake Mary for $2.32 million and begin construction.
During the past four years, Lake Mary purchased smaller parcels for nearly $2 million to cobble together the tract being sold to Epoch in anticipation of SunRail. The apartments, just east of Second Street, will be a stroll away from shops and restaurants along West Lake Mary Boulevard.
"We are helping to create a community where people are going to be able to walk to use SunRail to various destinations," Mayor David Mealor said.
The $1.2 billion SunRail commuter train is to start operating May 2014. The first 31 miles will connect DeBary in Volusia County to downtown Orlando and south Orange County.
More than two dozen residential and commercial projects along SunRail's route are already planned, Orlando city leaders said. Most of those projects — like the Lake Mary development — are designed to appeal to residents who would ride a commuter train.
An Orlando planning board recently approved a mixed-use development on Orange Avenue, across from the Orange County Courthouse and next to the main SunRail stop downtown. The project will include a six-story apartment building, a hotel and office buildings.
Altamonte Springs last year bought an empty post office building and parking lot on South Ronald Reagan Boulevard near State Road 436. The site is next to the SunRail station under construction.
The city hopes "to set the stage for development around the SunRail station," said Altamonte City Manager Frank Martz.
Kyle Riva, president of Epoch Properties, said young professionals are drawn to living near commuter rail lines.
"The younger generation embraces it," Riva said. "Because as commuting by car takes longer, it certainly makes a tremendous amount of sense to be living near a rail stop."