Seminole Co. wants Sanford project developer to pay back loan



SANFORD, Fla. - The Sanford Lofts Senior Housing Project is supposed to be built in what is now a downtown Sanford parking lot.

"Yeah, there's been quite a bit of talk about it," said Michael O'Brien, who owns a restaurant in the area where the project is to be built.

For almost two years O'Brien and other downtown business owners have been hearing about the project that has seen its share of problems.

A group of property owners sued to keep the low-income senior housing out, and a plan to swap the land with the city for its old police station has also hit its own snags. Now the delay to get the project up has led to a new problem.

Seminole County loaned the developer $1.3 million to buy the land several years ago. County officials said the developer has yet to pay any of that money back, and that it is time the money is paid.

In a letter to the developer the county is demanding payback of part of that Housing and Urban Development money, $542,000, otherwise; the county could foreclose on the property

"This has a long history and we're trying to work it out but at some point the county needs to protect its interest in the public treasury," said Seminole County attorney Bryant Applegate.

WFTV attempted to reach the developer at his office, he responded by email saying he's challenging the county's demands. He said he has told the city he will move forward with his project.

"We've got a lot of empty space downtown and we could use some help filling it," said O'Brien.

The developer and the county are planning a face-to-face meeting to come up with a resolution.

Sanford city officials said if the issue is resolved they will continue talks on swapping the downtown plot of land for the land the old police station sat on.