Developers are eyeing two locations less than a mile apart on St. Cloud’s E192 corridor for mixed-use projects with market-rate apartments.
ComTerra Group, which specializes in retail developments, has a pre-application meeting in October with Osceola County’s Development Review Committee to review potential site plans for the 26.5-acre site at the northeast corner of U.S. 192 and Nova Road. The property, owned by Fred Hawkins Sr., is in the St. Cloud Joint Planning Area, meaning it would need a utility service agreement from the city.
ComTerra associate Mike Liggins and engineer Peter Pensa with AVID Group initially proposed a grocery-anchored retail center and two commercial outparcels along the highway frontage with a 328-unit apartment community behind it, but county staff told them that site plan would not comply with the urban design standards for the Community Center Core future land use. The Community Center Core (CCC) is one of the county’s most intense zoning classifications and requires a minimum of 18 dwelling units per acre.
A revised site plan creates four retail parcels along the highway frontage with parking at the rear of the buildings and an internal road separating it from the multifamily component. The developer also would need to create an access point to the community from Lake Lizzie Drive and plan for future connections to the east if that property develops.
The first step would be to apply for CCC rezoning so the property complies with Osceola County’s Comprehensive Plan. The DRC told Liggins they would likely schedule a community meeting before the case goes to Planning Commission. The developer also would have to apply for annexation to St. Cloud in order to receive utilities, and that presents another hurdle. The City Council has historically opposed high density residential development.
The second project is just east of U.S. 192 and Narcoossee Road. Atlanta-based Hathaway Group has a purchase contract on the 41.7 acres of timberland on U.S. 192 a block east of Narcoossee Road. Company officials held a pre-application meeting on Oct. 21 with St. Cloud planning staff to discuss a possible Conditional Use Permit to allow multifamily mixed-use development on the property, which is currently zoned Agricultural but is identified as a future Neighborhood Center, appropriate for moderate to high-density residential, in the city’s Envision St. Cloud master plan.
A conceptual plan calls for a mid-rise community with 300 residential units spread among 12 apartment buildings. All of the land fronting on U.S. 192 would be reserved for future retail development. The parking lot and drainage ponds on the northwest quadrant of the parcel would create a buffer between apartment buildings and the adjacent single-family neighborhood.
In the meeting request form, Hathaway’s Jack Shelton indicated the retail portion of the project could be subdivided into as many as 16 commercial lots. The land is owned by real estate investor and former county commissioner Randy Sheive, who purchased it in 2005 for $5 million. Brian Capo with FL Retail Advisors has the listing.
The site is surrounded by new development. Across U.S. 192, D.R. Horton and Pulte both have new subdivisions underway on Live Oak Lake, and both of those projects have land set aside for commercial development along the highway. Earlier this summer, Orlando-based RRB Partners paid $2.8 million for the 10-acre commercial site directly across from a Publix-anchored power center at Narcoossee and U.S. 192.
Hathaway has been active in the Jacksonville market, having acquired and sold two apartment communities there. The firm has a third project in development there now called Exchange at Orange Park, which is slated to open in early 2023.
Winning approval from the St. Cloud City Council could prove to be a challenge, regardless of what the city’s master plan says. Recently, Green Slate Land and Development withdrew an application for Planned Unit Development zoning for a luxury townhome and apartment community on Narcoossee Road after two of the city’s four council members said they would vote against it because of the four-story height and density.
Councilwoman Linette Matheny state she would not vote to support any new multifamily projects in the city limits. “I don’t feel like we need more apartments,” she said.