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Get to Know Griffin Farms

Featured Photo from Get to Know Griffin Farms

One of the most exciting developments in Lake Mary history is about to break ground, and here’s your preview of the dining, shopping, and living opportunities that await at Griffin Farms Town Center

For decades, the cows grazing just off busy Lake Mary Boulevard proved an incongruous sight, surrounded by the bustling growth of our community. But that lazy stretch of pines, palms, and pasture at the intersection of Longwood Lake Mary Road is about to undergo a transformation of its own. A sophisticated complex of homes, apartments, restaurants, and stores will soon give Lake Mary its first “midtown” community, and the buzz is already building.

Work could begin as early as August on the 35-acre Griffin Farms Town Center, one of the largest developments Lake Mary has ever seen.

“We’re really excited,” says city planner Steve Noto, who notes that midtown will join the city’s downtown and its high-tech corridor along International Parkway as places where citizens live, work, shop, and play.

The project can be seen as two halves. The first, facing Lake Mary Boulevard, will consist of a grocery store, gym, upscale restaurants, shops, and apartments. The second section, to the south further down Longwood Lake Mary Road, will be a projected 130 or so single-family homes and townhomes, with prices starting at around $300,000.

One of the first tenants to be announced is North Carolina-based Earth Fare, a natural-foods grocer that keeps a “boot list” of ingredients banned from all its products, including antibiotics, trans fats, and artificial colors. Customers get a $50 “bounty” if they find any of the ingredients in an Earth Fare purchase. A 24 Hour Fitness gym is another confirmed tenant.

The parcels directly facing Lake Mary Boulevard will most likely turn into a “restaurant row,” Steve says, with an emphasis on high-end casual dining. In other words, don’t look for drive-through tacos here.

“This is one of the last large undeveloped pieces of Lake Mary,” says David Johnson, Seminole County’s property appraiser. “The city wanted a quality development. They were intent on making sure it was done well.”

The $200 million Griffin Farms project, David says, will help make the city “the hottest area in the county.”

Unicorp National Developments, Inc., the Orlando developer that brought Trader Joe’s to Central Florida, will be responsible for the north half of the development, which will include some 260 apartments and a three-story parking garage that will be designed to blend in rather than stick out. In quality and price, the apartments will be similar to the recent developments around Lake Mary’s SunRail station. Unicorp expects to break ground soon and has a reputation of working quickly.

South of the stores and apartments lies the second half of the project, featuring townhomes and larger two-story and three-story bungalows that will be developed by David Weekley Homes, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $600,000. At press time, details of the project were pending final city approval, but Brent Bartholomew of David Weekley Homes says to expect a “modern coastal” and “modern farmhouse” feel to the development, with small lots and private gardens.

The homes will surround a swimming pool, open-air cabanas, and a covered terrace and a grill that’s great for parties, Brent says.

“There will be plenty of sidewalks and lots of places to walk around,” says Brent. “It’s going to be really nice.”

Construction should begin in the fall, with model homes opening as soon as next spring.

The potential traffic impact of Griffin Farms has been a concern for surrounding residents, and city officials say they have worked with developers to address it. A new traffic signal will allow access from Lake Mary Boulevard, while additional entrances on Longwood Lake Mary Road will spread the burden. A roundabout will allow Griffin Farms residents internal access to the shops and restaurants.

While planning for Lake Mary’s future, project leaders are also paying homage to the city’s past. There was a time when this property was a working farm, reflecting Lake Mary’s history as a cattle settlement. In the late 1800s, cracker cattlemen, fueled by dried beans, salt pork, and beef jerky, would journey from Lake Mary to Jacksonville and St. Augustine to load their cattle on ships bound for Cuba, says historian Jim Robison. According to county records, the Griffin family bought the property at Lake Mary Boulevard and Longwood Lake Mary Road in 1954, and its agricultural zoning held for some 60 years. The family kept a homestead on the land until 2012.

Over the years, cows continued to roam the land as development encroached from all sides, while the Griffins kindly declined offers to buy.

“I just like living here,” the late family matriarch Lillian Humphrey Griffin told the Orlando Sentinel in 1997. “It’s home.”

It was only in recent years that Griffin descendants began to seriously field offers. With Lake Mary rapidly growing and the economy rebounding, the family finally had a compelling incentive to sell, says David, the county appraiser.

To be sure, the cows were a charming fixture, roaming freely near a fitness center, a bar, Lake Mary High School, and the enormous Crossings community.

“There’s always a little tug at your heart, losing something like that,” David says. But fortunately, the Griffin Farms project will fit in nicely with the city’s renowned aesthetic sensibility. “When development does come, you hope it is done in a respectful way. And I think the city has achieved that.”

 

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Posted By: Michelle

This TOTALLY sucks Mt Dora would never do anything like this to their quaint town........time to move

Posted By: Joey

I really miss the old days in Lake Mary. It used to be much more peaceful and less traffic. What I will miss the most in that section will be the cows and the nature surrounding them. At least hopefully the beautiful Pine trees will be left there or something.

Posted By: DJ

Traffic in Lake Mary almost any time day or night is already awful! That stretch of the Boulevard has some of the most congested traffic. Who is the "genius" that allowed this megadevelopment to be built?! How about we go back to the cows and stop this unnecessary nonsense!

Posted By: Ricardo Rodriguez

For more information regarding the homes for sale within this project, feel free to contact me anytime (24/7) and we can discuss anything/everything you want. Thanks! Ricardo Rodriguez 754-800-LAND(5263)

Posted By: Amanda

It's odd to see so many disgruntled individuals. Lake Mary is a happening town, and with it brought a lot of new infrastructure and job opportunities/growth. The expansion of big businesses coming into Lake Mary to yield call center and regional facilities is incredible. Yes, traffic is pretty bad - DURING RUSH HOUR! Come on people, it's a sign of the times, a sign of the hustle and bustle. This appears to be one of the fastest growing towns in Central Florida, bringing in new families (like myself - who moved here BECAUSE of the job growth and security). Lake Mary is a gem of a town that attributes to a growing middle class neighborhood and town. If Lake Mary once represented the back residential lots of what is currently a small Downtown but at a larger scale, then I am happy it has changed because the Lake Mary I know today is a dream. NOTE: Yes, I went there. The residential area in the downtown portion is just downright ugly. I hope they change it soon.

Posted By: George

Really? More traffic lights on an already crowded and congested road is the "solution" ? I see work already started and ALL the trees were cut down, what a shame. Lake Mary, say good bye to you small town feel and hello to more traffic and congestion. Lake Mary has become the new road to avoid at all costs.

Posted By: Connie Hernandez

I'm interested in the town homes. What's the square footage and how many bedrooms and baths?

Posted By: Pris

I remember the beautiful rolling land along I-4 before it was Heathrow. Was that ever a DISAPPOINTMENT when they buil all those homes, golf course and the rest. Then there was Reinhart, a two lane highway with horse farms, so beautiful.. Then Sam's showed up. Now we have Griffin Farms, another beautiful piece of land that went public. I think they call it progress, and as much as we hate it, it happening. I come from Washington D.C and I-495 +..you think we have traffic here, try getting to and from work on that. I have great memories of the Griffin land and family....I celebrate them. Progress, yes, it's here to stay. We must move with the times. Quaint little cities are for Maine and Vermont....Florida, no way. It could be so much worse..So just enjoy, and remember the good times. Thank you Griffin Family!

Posted By: DJ

"While planning for Lake Mary’s future, project leaders are also paying homage to the city’s past." HOW exactly are they doing that? Other than allowing all of the trees to be mowed down and too many eyesore apartments and homes being built along with a lot of retail businesses that will create even more traffic where it is not needed. The article never explained how the "geniuses" at city hall are paying homage to a former cow farm that they forced to be moved out.

Posted By: Kevin

Great, yet another way to increase the traffic in the already congested Lake Mary. Sure they have the traffic impact figured out, that's a load of what's already sitting on that 35-acre parcel from the cows. How about spending all that money and effort on improving the traffic flow issue we already have in the area, especially now with that monstrosity of an apartment complex near the sun rail. Lake Mary was supposed to be a smallish quaint town, it's lost that loving feeling. Thank you, City of Lake Mary. Regards, Disgruntled Resident.

Posted By: Michelle

Agree with Kevin. We don't even have the infrastructure to handle our current conditions.

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