In the Bay Hill area of Orlando, Florida, sits an 18-acre waterfront property with beautiful sunset views of Lake Tibet. Unicorp National Development purchased the property in 2018 with plans to develop it into a high-end residential community. PM Environmental, Inc. was retained to perform environmental due diligence services for the project.
PM completed a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) and identified two Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs), both pertaining to the historical use of the property.
From 1947 through 2018, the property was residential with citrus grove operations. Typically, citrus groves use specific herbicides and pesticides that contain higher metal contents than traditional farm crops. This long-term use of herbicides and pesticides could have residual negative impact on the soil and groundwater at the property.
The property also formerly operated two 4,000-gallon gasoline underground storage tanks (USTs). While the USTs were reportedly removed in 1989, no confirmation sampling was documented. Due to the potential of a release having occurred and for subsurface contamination to be present, PM advised that a Phase II ESA be completed.
In May 2018, PM conducted the field portion of a Phase II ESA, which included the advancement of 14 soil borings, the installation of two temporary groundwater monitoring wells, and the collection of soil and groundwater for laboratory analysis to assess the historical UST and agricultural use and operations. The laboratory analytical results did not identify any contaminants above target cleanup levels, so no further subsurface investigation was needed.
However, the property has a much older, unique past which posed a challenge to the site’s development. State historic officers alerted Orange County of a Native American archaeological site located on the property with "evidence of human remains”. Due to development delays, PM returned to the property in summer 2019 to conduct a Phase I update to the assessment from the year before.
“According to the project manager for Unicorp, an archeologist from New York contacted them regarding the possibility for the remains, and once the maps showed to be consistent, Unicorp let them explore and make the discovery,” said PM’s Candace Chin Fatt, Regional Manager – Site Investigation Services, who worked on the project.
The property contains the Macey Mound, which is a former Native American burial ground. Excavation of the site began in spring 2019 and is on-going, transferring and preserving the remains discovered onsite.
“Once they are done with the excavation, the development will move forward,” said Chin Fatt.
The new development will be called Carmel by the Lake. It will feature about a dozen custom residences, each sitting on about an acre and ranging from $850,000 to $2 million. A third of the planned homesites have already been reserved by future buyers.