Orange County Public Schools has South I-Drive site under contract

Orange County Public Schools has 20 acres under contract for a future elementary school on the southern end of International Drive, drawn to invest in the tourism corridor as a growing number of new apartments there attract and retain families. 

Located in the 13000 block of South I-Drive and southeast of Little Lake Bryan, the property is owned by Adams Property Holdings and Adams-Orlando LLC, affiliates of a Richard J. Adams out of Santa Ana, Calif. It has been marketed for sale since late 2014 by Cushman & Wakefield's Margery Johnson.

Tangelo Park and Waterbridge elementary schools are both in need of relief, and residential growth in the tourism corridor prompted OCPS last year to look for properties where those two school zones overlap, said spokeswoman Lauren Roth. 

OCPS considered 10 sites in the area, and this was deemed the most cost-effective one that didn't have environmental wetland concerns. 

The school board approved a purchase agreement on Feb. 14 for the 20 acres at $8.2 million, plus closing costs.  

Acquisition is contingent upon OCPS getting Orange County approval for construction of an elementary school, a Planned Development zoning change and a Comprehensive Plan Land Use amendment.

Closing on the sale will come after OCPS gets the Comp Plan amendment approval, no later than March 30, 2018. 

The school would be expected to open in August 2020. Construction of an elementary school takes roughly 11 months, projecting site work to start in June 2019 with design to potentially begin a year before. 

The pending elementary school land buy follows OCPS' purchase in late December of 50 acres for $25 million along the future 1.6-mile extension of Daryl Carter Parkway, where a new high school is planned to open in 2022. 

About 25 acres directly west of that high school site are also being targeted for acquisition by OCPS for a future middle school. 

OCPS has been banking land at an accelerated pace over the past year. It had 19 sites acquired or reserved before 2016, and should end this year with 38 sites reserved, purchased or under contract, according to Roth.

Thirty-seven relief, replacement or comprehensive school renovation projects are under planning, design or construction by OCPS' Facilities Division, with a budget of just under $1 billion.

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