The developers who paid $150 million for Osceola County’s Green Island Ranch property have formally initiated the county permitting process and are targeting late 2023 for the first home sales in the nearly 6,000-acre master-planned community.
St. Cloud’s Gentry Land Company and Wheelock Street Capital submitted a Concept Plan for the four neighborhoods east of Florida’s Turnpike, known as the Canoe Creek Neighborhoods (CCN) 1-4, in February. Project Manager Matt Call told GrowthSpotter as soon as the county staff signs off on the CP, they will begin work on the first Preliminary Subdivision Plan.
“So by the end of the year, we’d like to see the CP approved and clearly have (the) PS approved and be working on our Site Development Plans,” Call said. “Big picture, 2023 is the year that the dirt starts moving around and roads and utilities start getting built. And we could start selling houses towards the end of 2023.”
The developers and their planning team from Heidt Design also filed an application to rescind the Green Island Ranch Development of Regional Impact (DRI), which was supplanted in 2010 by the county’s South Lake Toho Element of the comprehensive plan. The SLT Conceptual Master Plan entitles the ranch property for over 17,000 dwelling units.
With their first CP, the developers are proposing a lower density of 7 homes per acre in CCN 1-4 than was approved in the CMP. That’s largely due to a 57% reduction in the number of attached or multifamily homes. The total number of homes sought in the CP is 2,926, down from 3,472.
Construction would begin in the northeast corner of the site, with CCN-3 along Canoe Creek Road. An east-west framework street would serve as the main entrance to the community and would align with the entrance to Lake Gentry Landings, a new Mattamy Homes community going in directly across the street. The street will be designed as a premium transit corridor with traffic circles at all major intersections. It will be flanked by multi-use trails on both sides of the street, lined with shade trees and areas designated for parallel parking.
A Neighborhood Center is planned in Phase 1, adjacent to the future welcome center. It will likely include parks and amenities, as well as up to 21,000 square feet of complementary commercial uses. The submitted Concept Plan calls for 770 detached single-family homes and 106 townhomes.
The northern tip of the site will become a neighborhood park. “It’s just a particularly beautiful stand of oak trees that just screams out to be preserved,” Heidt founder Pat Gassaway said.
Christie Barreiro, Co-Owner and Principal of Heidt Design, said another change to the CP made in consultation with the School District was to combine the elementary and middle schools into a single K-8 school, which will be constructed in Phase 2.
The planning team also shifted all of the higher density housing to the neighborhood south of the framework road so it would be closer to the new school and park.
The future Community Center was shifted slightly east and now extends across both sides of the intersection. The size of the center would be nearly cut in half and the development program would be scaled down. Call said that’s largely a result of surveying the property to better define the wetland boundaries, floodplains and size of drainage ponds.
“Once we do all the work and then we find out what the actual area is that we can develop to, there’s a few tweaks here and there. But then what happens is that tends to shrink,” Call said.
The office and institutional components would be eliminated, and the amount of commercial space would go from 110,000 square feet to 85,000 square feet.
The Heidt team also realigned much of the road network to improve traffic flow throughout the community. Roundabouts were added along the transit corridor, and roads that once required 90-degree turns can now be traversed in a straight line.
“We think this a far superior plan to the previous one in this area. It will help traffic flow more smoothly through CCN-4,” Barreiro said.
A network of trails will extend throughout the community, taking advantage of existing farm roads and cattle crossings. Gassaway said the team is seeking county staff approval to eliminate bike lanes in favor of wider multi-use paths on both sides of the framework streets. So far the request has met with “robust favorable response.” The paths would be 16 feet wide on one side of the street and 12 feet wide on the other.
“We’ve done this in other communities — taking the seven feet of a bike lane and trading it for the cost of the infrastructure for these dedicated multi-use paths that are outside the roadway,” Gassaway said. “They really are a much wiser way to live. The residents love it. It is absolutely the most prolifically used amenities that we provide, especially when we marry it with the trails that extend through the wetlands and open spaces outside the roadways.”
The Concept Plan also identifies spots for linear parks in CCN-1 and CCN-4, and for a 50-foot-wide linear park along the entire length of Canoe Creek Road.
Barreiro said they are eagerly waiting for the first round of comments from staff, which usually takes about 30 days from the filing date.
“We actually filed in February, so we haven’t received comments yet,” she said. “I believe we will in a couple of weeks. We’ve got a little bit more time, so we don’t want to push the county too hard right out of the gate. We’ve got a long process to go with them.”