Developer wants to build on old Lee Vista bomb range

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ORLANDO, Fla. - A developer wants to build an apartment complex on the old Pine Castle bombing range, where hundreds of bombs were discovered.

The proposed Beltway Commerce Center would be located off Lee Vista Boulevard, just east of the area.

The owner already has permission to build retail and office space, but he believes building an apartment complex as well is the only way to get the development off the ground.

At first sight, the area appears perfect for renters who would have easy access to State Road 417.

Taurus Global Real Estate Investment is petitioning the city to re-zone the property to allow up to 290 apartments.

According to a city staff report, the land is within the Pinecastle Jeep range -- the area nearby was used as a bombing range during World War II.

"I am surprised because I thought that area was going to be more like retail or offices," said resident Manuel Alcivar.

Officials said an Army Corps of Engineers report found that it's unlikely there are any major munitions on this site. But

As a precaution, an inspector must be on standby to remove any contaminated soil that may be found as it is turned during construction.

"I'm OK with it, as long as they secured that land is safe for construction," Alcivar said.

Some 260 bombs and 14 tons of bomb debris were first discovered within the range in 2007, some underneath Odyssey Middle School.

Five years later, homeowners said property values still haven't recovered.

Resident Lethuy Ho believes new development may be the answer.

"Will help the area to grow, and then more choice for people to go shop, instead of just go to Publix," said Ho.

The city of Orlando Municipal Planning Board believes the residential development should be allowed on this site.

It is still up to the City Council to decide at a meeting next week.