Developer has big plans for Eatonville property

A developer has big plans for the old Robert Hungerford school property in Eatonville, but the town's mayor feels the developer is getting a little ahead of himself.

Approximately 100 acres of land, right off Interstate 4 in Historic Eatonville is up for grabs. A local developer is going public with his vision for site.

"I really think it could be a great mixed-use development, bringing the grocery, bringing the restaurants, bringing some retail, having multi-family residential and single-family residential," said Chuck Wittall, Unicorp National Developments. "You could have a microcosmic version of a Baldwin Park there."

However, Orange County Public Schools, which owns the property, has not yet issued a request for proposals. Wittall going public with his vision surprised Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole, who is worried about optics.

"Every developer is allowed to sit at the table, so we wouldn't want anyone to think that there's something going on behind any doors, because that's not what it is," said Cole.

Cole said the developer chosen will best understand the wishes of the community.

"Nobody has an upper hand besides those who have a heartbeat for our community," said Cole.

Wittall clarified his reasoning for releasing his plan now.

"I wanted to make sure it was out there.  The best support is the community's if the community is going to support it, you would think the elected officials would support it," said Wittall.

The prospective developer plans to visit with the community and incorporate their ideas.

"I wanna hear their ideas, because I want at the end of the day, the community to embrace what we're doing there, not only we're proud of, but they're proud of in their community," said Wittall.

Orange County Public Schools said the request for bids will go out next year.