Orlando-based Westgate Resorts LTD is looking to build a four-story marina development with apartment-style timeshare units and ground-floor retail at its Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo in Polk County.
In a PowerPoint presentation made to the Polk Development Review Committee (DRC) during a pre-application meeting in April, Westgate presented a rendering and plan to replace the single-story marina, bait & tackle shop, and café currently on the 187-acre property. Drawings by engineer Andrew McCown of Palm Beach Gardens-based GAI Consultants show two buildings, one on each side of the main T-dock. The plan indicates there will be 29 units total in buildings almost 59 feet in height.
The Planned Development (PD) will need to be amended to allow for 60-foot-tall buildings. That will require a Level-4 review that needs approval by the Board of County Commissioners to revise the PD Master Plan within the Development of Regional Impact (DRI), Polk County planner Chanda Bennett told GrowthSpotter. “The PD has not been amended in several years.” A separate Level 2 review for the non-residential site plan also is required, she said.
Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo is a working dude ranch with more than 1,700 acres of land overlooking the Kissimmee River. It offers guests the rodeo, petting farm, bungee jumping, golf, trap and skeet shooting, fishing, airboat rides, guided hunts, river cruises and other activities.
“That resort is absolutely in the middle of nowhere,” Bennett said. Aerial views show the marina with tennis courts and the resort behind it surrounded by untouched land. Westgate has its own private utility system for the ranch. It also already offers some time-shares on the property, according to the company’s website.
After Westgate submits its application, the process for approval will take about 4 months, Bennett said. Westgate is proposing about 10 units per acre, which “is still well within their total unit count for the total DRI.”
Speaking of the design, Bennett said, “I like the way it looks.”
Mark Waltrip, Westgate chief operating officer, didn’t respond to questions about the Ranch.
Westgate, whose parent company is Central Florida Investments Inc., had expansion plans in 2021 for the ranch that included a safari with non-aggressive animals such as water buffalo, giraffes, deer and other hoofed animals in a 45-to-50-acre safari area. The safari never came to fruition, however a petting farm included in the plan is home to horses, cows, ponies, sheep, turkeys, emus, peacocks and llamas.
Westgate owns more than 14,000 villas at 22 resorts, according to the website. Its timeshare locations include Cocoa Beach, River Ranch and Orlando in Florida;
Branson, MO; Gatlinburg, TN; Las Vegas; Myrtle Beach, SC; Park City, UT; and Williamsburg, VA.
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