Developer applies for Mixed-Use at FL Turnpike interchange in Kissimmee

The heirs of the late Wendell "Jock" Spears are looking to revive a decades-old land development at Kissimmee's Osceola Parkway - Florida Turnpike interchange.

Spears, who died in 2007, was the original developer of Gateway Commons, the Walmart-anchored retail center between the turnpike and the new Tupperware SunRail station, which is expected to open in July. 

"The owner passed away, and now the family is saying, 'Let's breathe some life back into this project,'" Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. attorney Hal Kantor told GrowthSpotter

Spears had named the project "Ramona" after his wife, Ramona Ann Spears. The 22,000-square-foot Walmart was built in 2001, followed by the Gateway Station in-line retail in 2005 and later by multiple outparcels.

Kantor and Poulos & Bennett's Kathy Hattaway are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning with Kissimmee's Development Review Committee to discuss rescinding the Gateway Commons DRI, and seek approval for a new Mixed-Use PUD for the remaining undeveloped 124 acres.

"This project was designed 20 years ago, and things have changed," Kantor said. "So we're updating the project to make it more marketable."

The 56 acres at the northwest quadrant of the interchange, along Bill Beck Boulevard, would be entitled for 147,000 square feet of new retail and commercial uses plus 300 hotel rooms. Approximately 29 acres of wetlands would remain as part of a conservation easement.

Kantor said the 68 acres on the south side of Osceola Parkway were originally approved to be a business park, but that use is no longer viable due to changing market conditions. The MUPUD would divide that property into three distinctive zones that decrease in intensity from north to south.

The 6.6 acres fronting Osceola Parkway would be entitled for 35,000 square feet of Highway Commercial uses. A 15-acre parcel immediately south of that would be approved for high-density residential and entitled for 300 apartments or condominiums.

The southernmost parcel is 28 acres and would be approved for medium-density residential uses and entitled for 420 apartments or townhomes. The Mill Slough conservation easement would serve as a dividing line between the high-density and medium-density housing.

The MUPUD also includes right-of-way to extend Bill Beck Boulevard to the south. The road currently runs parallel to the Florida Turnpike and dead-ends just north of the Kissimmee Charter Academy.

SunRail's Osceola County extension has sparked hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment around the future stations. Tupperware Brands will reopen the new four-lane Orange Avenue on March 31, and Orlando Health is now building a $32 million free-standing emergency room and medical pavilion on Osceola Parkway.

The medical facility is part of a burgeoning transit-oriented district shaping up around the SunRail station that also includes a new 240-unit Eastwind apartment complex on Orange Avenue that should break ground this year.

The Ramona site is about a mile from the station. That and its proximity to the turnpike make it ideal for multifamily development, Kantor said.

"I think a portion of the multifamily would go first, but until you market it you don't really know," he said. "There's a lot of new, Class A multifamily going up in Kissimmee right now. It's a hot commodity." 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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