Orange County commissioners approve $1 billion The Grow “agrihood”

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Orange County commissioners have  approved development and rezoning plans for The Grow, a $1-billion, mixed-use “agrihood” in Orlando.

Dwight Saathoff, president of Project Finance & Development LLC is the developer of the project that spans 1,189 acres behind the University of Central Florida near Lake Pickett Rd. and the Econlockhatchee River.

“Being from a small midwestern farming town, I’ve always had an affinity for farmers and I enjoy cooking with fresh ingredients,” Orlando Business Journal quoted him as saying. “A few years ago, we had a serious family illness that made me much more concerned with knowing how and where food in our supermarket was grown. I began to really understand the health benefits of locally grown food and the environmental need for sustainable food production practices. I thought it would really be cool to create a community where agriculture is the focal point.”

Construction of The Grow’s first phase may begin next summer, and is expected to include a 9-acre working farm and community barn, some community gardens, the 20-acre community park and some residential development.

The goal of the first phase is to establish the sustainable theme, Saathoff previously told OBJ. Plans for The Grow first emerged in April 2015.

Opponents of the project argued that it will necessitate additional roadwork and threatened to spoil one of the area’s last undeveloped wildlife habitats, which is also used as a recreation area. Advocates maintained that The Grow takes a sustainable approach to the area’s inevitable development.

County commissioners in favor of the project said the thoughtfulness and quality of The Grow were big reasons why it was approved, plus they wanted to bring certainty to that area of town that’s been rumored to see big development for years now.

The developer says  the 1,189-acre project in a rural patch of East Orlando will include a community garden – which will supply the neighborhood’s restaurant – more than 2,000 homes, a 20-acre park, biking trails, an elementary school and 172,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.

Image: Site plan for The Grow: See http://lifeatthegrow.com/

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