After taking a one-year hiatus, the Osceola Kissimmee Chamber's Four Corners Bus Tour led participants through a whirlwind of new developments on Wednesday in a rapidly growing submarket.
"Today we're seeing things that we were only talking about two years ago on the last tour," Four Corners Area Council Chairman Steve Silcok told GrowthSpotter. "Before we talked about infrastructure, housing, industrial. Now we're seeing the new roads, hospital and commercial structure coming up out of the ground."
Just a few of the tour highlights included the 2 million-square-foot Walmart distribution center on U.S. 27 that opened in 2016, a drive through The Grove Resort & Spa, Lake County's Cagan Crossings and lunch at the nearly-finished Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens.
Polk County Principal Planner Erik Peterson said rapid-fire growth on the U.S. 27 corridor due to an influx of industrial development is putting a strain on schools and roads. The county needs two more K-8 schools and a new high school to meet the demand in Four Corners.
He told GrowthSpotter the demand for more warehouse space on U.S. 27 is insatiable. Case in point: the Albertson family, which owns the planned Four Corners Town Center at the corner of U.S. 27 and Ronald Reagan Parkway, have floated an idea of rezoning the land for warehouse distribution.
"At this time we're not comfortable with that – it would take a lot of changes to our comprehensive plan in order to do that," Peterson said. "The proximity of the growing residential area, having warehouse and distribution that close is another concern. There's a lot of investment underway in residential development, resort-style homes, that might not be compatible with warehouse and distribution."
Encore Group Sales Manager Charlie Diaz shared that the vacation home developer is gearing up to start Phase 2 of its Reunion West amenity center. Encore opened the new clubhouse and water park in 2016. The second phase includes a lazy river, multipurpose sports field, multiple tennis courts, basketball courts and volleyball courts. There's also a new tot lot and "kids camp" area.
David Buchheit, executive director of the W192 Development Authority, said the most important thing about the bus tour is it opens the door for people from different counties to find ways to work together.
"A lot of times, we don't cross jurisdictional boundaries," he said. "So getting on a bus and seeing what's happening in the other three counties is very important -- not only for what we do individually but for economic development throughout the entire region."
For information about the Four Corners Area Council, contact Robin Hughes.