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Former Home of The Coop Could Soon Offer Fine Dining

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Clermont Investment, LLC has received conditional use approval for fine-dining renovations to the 4,695 square-foot space that once housed Southern comfort food concept The Coop.

The proposal was first heard at the Feb. 28 City Commission meeting and included details of a 170-seat restaurant to be constructed inside the 610 W. Morse Blvd. property, currently listed with Colliers International. During the meeting, City of Winter Park Senior Planner John Harbilas said Clermont Investment’s intent was to “make the property marketable to a potential tenant.”

The plan falls within the district’s C-3A commercial zoning and the property meets parking requirements with 28 on-site spaces and another 29 secured through a 10-year lease with neighboring Ward Chapel AME Church. However, the absence of a secured tenant raised questions over potential use and operating hours. Mayor Phil Anderson expressed concern over the possible impact of late-night operations on the surrounding neighborhood and suggested a closing time of 10 p.m. as part of the conditional use agreement. “I feel like we’re about to change the historic use in a residential neighborhood without knowing the intended occupancy,” he said.

The proposed 170-seat restaurant has a floor plan and parking similar to The Coop. The location will have the ability to accommodate full liquor service and outdoor seating as added selling points. Image courtesy of: City of Winter Park

After the matter was tabled to the March 13 Commission Meeting, Clermont Investment submitted a statement to city staff which noted they have “gathered support from neighboring residential properties, affirming their approval of businesses operating beyond 10:00 p.m.” The statement also notes that the proposed closing time would pose problems for high-end table service restaurants, which often rely on extended dining hours. Colliers International Senior VP Alexie Fonseca told the32789 in a text message that a tenant has not yet been signed but offers are under review.

A city staff recommendation for approval was presented to commissioners at their March 13 meeting, which outlined the following conditions:

  1. Tenant must meet the definition of a fine dining restaurant.
  2. At least 51% of revenue must come from food sales (to prevent use as a night club or bar).
  3. Last seating must be at 10 p.m. and the restaurant must close by midnight.
  4. A continual parking agreement with an adjacent property must be maintained.
  5. Tenant must adhere to the city noise ordinance: no outdoor speakers and restrictions on outdoor seating past 10 p.m.
  6. Renovations to the building must abide by current land development regulations and comply with the Morse Boulevard design guidelines.

Commission unanimously voted to grant the request with proposed conditions. There is no word on a construction timeline and Clermont Investment representatives could not be reached for comment.

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