ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Plans for a multi-million dollar lakefront estate in the Bay Hill area of Orange County could be hitting a dead end. That is if ancient human remains belonging to an Indian tribe are uncovered.
Famed Central Florida developer Chuck Whittall, known for projects like the Orlando Eye, is now spearheading an archeological investigation.
The project plan contains 13 large lots meant for building custom mansions, worth up to $12 million. They all sit on a peninsula within the Butler Chain of Lakes that. until now. has been untouched. There may be a reason why -- the state said there is evidence of an Indian Burial ground.
Wildflowers, Spanish moss and palm trees fill this quiet patch of real estate that developers plan to transform into Carmel by the Lake. At least four plots are already under contract to begin building.
But a problem has popped up in the paperwork. State historic officers said an archeological site called the Macey Mound is in that same area with evidence of human remains.
“Evidently native Americans had spent time on the property 100 plus years ago,” said Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp National Developments.
Before anything else can move forward, the state is requiring the property be examined.
So far archeologists on site have not discovered any human remains, but if some were found, it could change the entire face of the project, since it is a felony to knowingly disturb an unmarked burial.
“So far the only thing that has been discovered has been some old pottery and a couple of fire pits,” Whittall said.
According to those who study anthropology, these findings could mean much more.
“If pottery is found it could mean that it’s a burial good,” Cayla Jordan, an anthropology major at Rollins College said. “It could give reason to continue excavating. It’s a complicated problem that happens.”
But the developer said there are plans in place to protect the project.
“If we found human remains they would be relocated to an Indian burial ground,” Whittall said.
Whittall said the full results of the archeological investigation will be complete by next week. FOX 35 will share the results with you when we get them.
As for why he did not know about the possible burial ground before advertising this project, Florida law keeps these sites confidential due to concerns about looters disturbing the grounds.