City Commission, during its June 8 meeting, accepted a motion to approve a property swap contract with Elevation Financial Group, LLC. that would result in the company’s headquarters moving to Winter Park.
The contract, involving a .695-acre city-owned parcel at 631 N. New York Ave. – also known as the Swoope Avenue Property – was the result of a city request for partnership in a sale, or land swap, to fund the construction of a central maintenance facility for the nearby golf course and cemetery.
Adjacent property owners Elevation Financial Group, founded by Winter Park resident Chris King, and Seventh Gen Enterprises, LLC., owned by Winter Park resident Tom Saltmarsh, each submitted contract proposals that included new Class A office construction.
The Saltmarsh proposal offered the appraised land value of $940,000, and utilized the acquired property for up to 4,000 square feet of construction near its two-story office building at 601 N. New York Ave. However, Elevation Financial proposed a land swap for a portion of their neighboring property, along with a $1 million payment to offset a net decrease in the value of the city’s property. The Elevation contract also includes a three-story, 14,000 square-foot headquarters to be built on the acquired property, by its existing office building at 507 N. New York Ave.
Elevation Financial Group Director of Public Affairs Ben Friedman addressed the commission, citing the company’s design plans that began prior to the pandemic. Cooperation with city departments resulted in land borders, circular access for emergency vehicles, and space for the new maintenance facility.
“Five years ago is when we started this conversation, and we’re at the point where it’s now ready,” Friedman said. “The final product that’s in front of you now is a city driven product, it had input from every relevant department.”
Under the new City Charter, approval to proceed with the contract required a supermajority of four votes but received unanimous approval. Winter Park Mayor Phil Anderson requested a provision to be added that would allow the city a right of first bid should the property be listed for sale before construction were to take place.
A final contract will be presented for approval during a second reading at a future City Commission meeting.