Large Mixed Use Project in Osceola County Moving Forward; April 28, 2021

New mixed-use districts in Osceola are being planned for 14,000-plus homes

APR 23, 2021 AT 4:39 PM

Osceola County is wrapping up the master planning effort for its two final mixed-use districts. District 5 abuts the South Lake Toho element, which have already been approved. The 365-acre Yates assemblage, circled in white, could be added to the final plan. (Rj Whidden and Associates).  Jim Hall of HDSi represents the largest land owner in the study with over 5,000 acres.

Osceola County is in the final stretch of a two-year planning effort that will determine how large swaths of rural land south of St. Cloud develop over the next decade as the region’s population growth continues at its torrid pace.

The county engaged planning firm RJ Whidden in 2019 to create the Conceptual Master Plan (CMP) for the Mixed-Use Districts 5 and 6, the final two districts in the county’s urban service area. The 8,517-acre study area stretches from the Florida’s Turnpike east along the Alligator Chain of Lakes to U.S. 192 at Old Melbourne Highway.

After a series of online information meetings led by Assistant Community Development Administrator Susan Caswell, the county will host a series of three hourlong in-person open house sessions Tuesday evening, April 27, at the St. Cloud Marina banquet hall beginning at 6 pm to get feedback on the initial draft CMP, which calls for 14,010 residential units in compact, walkable neighborhoods.

“What I mean about walkable is not that they have a sidewalk,” Caswell said. “They need more than that. Basically, they’re designed in a way that you can walk to places.”

Kindred, Tohoqua and Edgewater are three communities in various stages of development within the East of Toho Mixed-Use District. Tavistock Development Group is implementing the county’s Northeast District Element to become its new Sunbridge community.

“These places are interesting. And you know, that’s just a straightforward quality of life issue,” Caswell said. “They function well. They have a mix of uses, they have places to gather. They have nice residential services that serve residential at different scales.”

Some projects within Districts 5 and 6, such as Ameratrail, Lake Gentry Landings and Pine Grove already have approved mixed-use concept plans. Those have already been incorporated into the draft CMP. But adopting a CMP doesn’t necessarily mean the areas will develop any sooner. The Lake Gentry Landings Concept Plan was approved in 2014.

And the massive Green Island Ranch property makes up a large portion of the county’s South Lake Toho Element. It has had entitlements for up to 17,000 residential units since the CMP was adopted in 2009.

“What’s important to understand is this is not a development program. This is a long-term plan,” Caswell said. “We’re not dictating when this area develops. We’re dictating how it develops, so that when that happens, which is more based on market forces than anything we do, it will happen according to the rules we set in place.”

The properties marked blue are already in the mixed use district. The parcels marked yellow currently have Low Density Residential future land use, but they could be added to the district when the conceptual master plan is adopted. (Osceola County)

Some landowners on the western edge of District 5, adjacent to the Green Island Ranch, have inquired about having their property added to the CMP.  KPM Franklin’s Murry Bullion represents a local land developer who is under contract for about 365 acres at Canoe Creek Road and Fannie Bass Road.

Several of the parcels in the assemblage are already in the MXD, but the largest parcel, owned by Henry C. Yates, currently has Low Density Residential future land use. It’s just east of the proposed interchange between the Turnpike and future SouthShore Expressway toll road, which calls for a more intense, urban development pattern.

This map shows the proximity of the Yates assemblage to the future turnpike interchange and urban center and future industrial park in the South Lake Toho CMP. (Osceola County)

Bullion told the DRC the buyers want to seek mixed-use future land use and zoning to build a community with up to 1,000 homes.

Bullion told GrowthSpotter they initially looked at doing 3,000 dwelling units but realized that density would be unrealistic, given the amount of floodplains and wetlands on the site. The portions of the site that were included in the study area reserve large amounts for conservation. He said he plans to attend the open house Tuesday and will schedule follow-up meetings with county staff regarding how to incorporate the Yates property in the plan.

The CMP creates a framework for future road networks, including future phases of the Northeast Connector toll road, which would extend from the turnpike north to Nova Road. The Central Florida Expressway Authority is currently conducting a Project Development and Environment study (PD&E) for the NE Connector segment from Nova Road north into Sunbridge.

Caswell said the CMP also would create public parks and nature preserves along the Alligator Chain of Lakes and its canals.

The draft CMP shows a few potential sites for urban centers, but it doesn’t include calculations for future multifamily residential housing, offices or other commercial spaces. Those numbers will be added later, after the public workshops.