A Winter Park real estate firm that got its start in the citrus industry is prepping 130 acres of St. Cloud orange grove for future development.
"Ultimately for us it is an exit," Butts said on Tuesday. "We are niche owners of real estate and sometimes developers. This particular site is of a scale and location that is outside our core, so we’re trying to be thoughtful about how we position the property as we move closer to an exit."
Battaglia Group has owned the land since the 1950s, and the company replanted the grove in 2008. But development is encroaching quickly around it, which prompted the company's principals and planners to start a discussion with city officials about potential concepts and uses.
"Essentially we’re doing some rough bubble plans, looking at how much of each of the uses would be feasible for the site, where they’d be located and how they’d be transitioned," he said.
It currently all has a future land use of commercial and is zoned for Highway Business, which doesn't allow for residential uses. Butts said Battaglia sees potential for a mix of commercial integrated with residential uses, including multifamily, townhomes and single-family. They believe there’s an opportunity for a destination lifestyle center -- possibly anchored by a movie theater -- and a mix of shops and restaurants.
"Now we're doing a study to determine what we believe is viable and what St. Cloud would support," Butts said. "Ultimately, we're not going to be the developer. We’re going to put it to market and continue to have the conversations with the city. If that warrants proceeding with entitlement changes, we’ll consider doing that."
The bulk of the parcel is on the south side of Neptune Road, just east of the Florida Turnpike. The site has three access points to U.S. 192 via Sergeant Graham Drive, Old Canoe Creek Road and a direct driveway cut between the Sonny's Barbecue and Chase Bank branch.
Dustin Bowersett, associate with Colliers International in Orlando, said that even with 200,000 square feet of new big box commercial under construction at St. Cloud Commons, the St. Cloud market is ripe for more retail development.
"There are still some boxes that haven't come to St. Cloud," he said, citing Target, Costco and Sam's Club as examples.
Butts said Battaglia is willing to subdivide and would entertain a phased development. "We’re presently looking at it all as one master-planned parcel, but we don’t object to carving it up."
VHB Principal James Sellen discussed the project last week during St. Cloud's Economic Development Summit. He said the initial meetings with city officials have been positive.
"We’re looking forward to coming back with some concepts for them to consider," he said.