Will Lost Lagoon be Port Charlotte’s downtown?

Betsy Calvert, Charlotte Sun — January 30, 2019

PORT CHARLOTTE — As its third extension was due to expire, Lost Lagoon Development submitted a new development plan Jan. 24 for its proposed water park and downtown to rise from the jungle in Murdock Village.

The new proposal is under the name of Arredondo Pointe, which is what the developer is calling the project, after a historic region near Orlando where the developer is located.

In the proposal, the water park would be located on 45 acres in two of the six development parcels closer to U.S. 41. Up to seven hotels could be built in four of the parcels. The rest of the 110 acres could include up to 2 million square feet of commercial development that the developer left wide open in possible variety. Other than hotels, there is no residential component of the project, unlike the Private Equity Group project a few blocks away.

PEG is aiming for 2,400 residential units in the same redevelopment zone.

Charlotte County planning and zoning staff rejected earlier plans from Lost Lagoon last fall, based on missing information. They requested that the developer identify exactly which land use they would pursue in which location.

Much of new, 20page proposal from Banks Engineering is a narrative describing how the project will achieve a vibrant downtown where walking and public gathering is encouraged.

“(A) variety of civic and open spaces will help to create a distinctive and unique destination, requiring the development of attractive places for people to gather, meet each other on a daily basis and also celebrate holidays and community events together,” one section of the proposal states.

Ways to achieve this include using roundabouts instead of traditional intersections to slow traffic. Another technique cited in the plan is allowing businesses to pool parking away from their shops or offices. And the developer would not pursue conventional visual buffers such as shrubs to separate property.

“Conventional suburban buffers and landscaping are incompatible with walkable mixed-use development because they are intended to separate rather than integrate uses. Walkable uses should be close together without unnecessary separations or disconnections,” the proposal states.

Charlotte County’s interim Economic Development Director Dave Gammon said it appears Lost Lagoon has put a lot of thought into how to make the site a true downtown such as Port Charlotte has never had.

“If they can do anything like that, I think it’s going to fabulous,” Gammon said.

The plan puts the county on notice for special zoning considerations needed to make a downtown that brings people together, without their cars.

“That’s exactly what a development plan is supposed to do. What do you want to do, and how we can help you do that?” he said.

County commissioners signed a contract with Lost Lagoon in 2017 in which the developer would pay $6.7 million for the land. So far, Lost Lagoon has put down $250,000. As part of the county’s redevelopment plan, the developer would get much of the full purchase price back in exchange for infrastructure work such as widening Toledo Blade Boulevard, installing water and sewer lines, sidewalks, roads and storm water management.

Lost Lagoon must now meet future deadlines including a more detailed construction plan for the first of the sections to be developed.

County zoning requires the developer to leave about 31 acres as open space and almost eight acres for wildlife habitat. The developer did not submit those details yet.

Representatives for Lost Lagoon did not return calls for comment.