Site plans drafted by Kimley-Horn
Apopka city documents
Site plans drafted by Kimley-Horn
Not only is Vero Beach-based Evans Properties building what would be the largest mixed-use community ever in Apopka, but the ambitious development team is hopeful that the massive project gets broader recognition upon completion.
Joe Beninati, the project’s development coordinator, told the city commission recently that the goal is to transform a vacant 230-acre stretch of land in the Kelly Park Interchange District into “Florida’s number one mixed-use community.”
Even the dog park, he says, will be worthy of accolades.
“We want to compete for the award of America’s Greatest Dog Park,” he added at a Feb. 7 work session where he unveiled more details about the approved project now called Wyld Oaks.
Formerly known as Kelly Park Crossings, the development plan calls for 3,000 multifamily units, 1.1 million square feet of non-residential office/commercial/retail uses, and up to 1.8 million square feet of industrial space at the intersection of Kelly Park Road and Golden Gem Road, near S.R. 429.
Beninati said Wyld Oaks will include a performance stage for live concerts and comedy shows, a farmer’s market and specialty grocer, two hotels, convenience stores, coffee houses, a craft brewery, multiple restaurants, and a gym.
There will also be several public parks and an extensive trail network for walking, running, biking, and even scooters, he said.
Renderings showing how the project might look are not yet available. Beninati told GrowthSpotter that mass grading of the site is expected to begin this spring and will take roughly a year to complete. Then the site will be available for other developers to come in and pursue vertical construction, he said.
The project will also bring in new jobs — 5,000 of them. Roughly that many residents are also expected to call Wyld Oaks home.
Of the plan to bring 3,000 apartment units to a locale that’s surrounded by single-family homes, Beninati spoke of the value of rental units.
“We realize that the total number we are building may pale in comparison to the amount of single-family homes being built around Wyld Oaks,” he said. “But we think that rental opportunities are very important. For example, they can attract younger folks who want to join the community but are just not able to join to afford a home yet. Another reason for rentals is that there are older folks and empty-nesters who may want to downsize but still live in the community and not want to move away. And then there’s everyone in between those two categories with their own circumstances.”
He added, “In short, we realize the only way to modulate rental costs in the Greater Orlando area is to bring supply closer to the demand.”
Evans Properties began operations in Dade City, Florida about 100 years ago before moving its headquarters to Vero Beach in the 1960’s, Beninati explained. Today, the company owns more than 41,000 acres in the state of Florida, he said.
Using an entity titled Kelly Park Vb Development LLC, Evans Properties bought land for Wyld Oaks in 2022 for $60.4 million.
In total, thus far, Evans has invested nearly $100 million on the project, Beninati said. Over the next twenty years, the company’s investment is expected to exceed the billion-dollar mark, he noted.
“At a high level, we sold assets and other ventures to generate the cash to make a large investment in your city,” he told commissioners. “We are making a huge bet that will only become a winner if we hunker down in Apopka for decades to come. Point is, we believe in your city.”
Beninati also mentioned the economic development director position the city is looking to fill.
The commission approved the new department at its Jan. 18 meeting while voicing frustrations that new restaurants and retailers in the city aren’t keeping pace with the arrival of new homes. One of the roles of the department and its not-yet-hired director would be to work with developers to identify and attract businesses.
Beninati said he looks forward to working with this employee.
Cadence Partners has been tabbed to build out the industrial component of Wyld Oaks, with plans to bring 1.3 million square feet across nine warehouse buildings.
Beninati told Apopka commissioners at the Feb. 7 meeting that CBRE has been tasked with finding national businesses that want to build office headquarters within the mixed-use development.
“We can envision a place where residents park their cars and don’t leave for a whole week because they can work in Wyld Oaks, walk to their homes in Wyld Oaks and shop, eat and catch a concert,” he said. We hope our town center becomes a place for wedding pictures and prom pictures and where a lifetime of memories will unfold for future generations of Apopka.”
A master development plan approved by the city commission shows the site divided into four districts: Village Center District, Interchange District, Employment District and Transition District.
The Village Center District, on the northwest edge of the property with the most frontage along Kelly Park Drive, would include the most residential units, as many as 1,150, along with 500,000 square feet of non-residential uses. The Employment District, on the back end of the property along the west side of SR 429, would feature the most non-residential space — as much as 1.8 million square feet — along with as many as 300 multifamily units.
The Interchange District, at the corner of Kelly Park Road and SR 429, calls for as many as 1,031 residential units and as much as 350,000 square feet of commercial space while the Transition District, the smallest, calls for as many as 450 apartments and a maximum of 250,000 square feet of non-residential space.
“This would definitely be a destination,” the city’s community development director Jim Hitt told GrowthSpotter in an earlier interview. “This is our north downtown, and it’s going to be a big area. This has been a very long-term vision.”
Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn