A four-way partnership led by Butters Construction CEO Malcolm Butters is activating plans for 217 acres on Osceola County’s fast-developing Ham Brown Road corridor between Kissimmee and Poinciana.
The partners bought the property, which straddles Ham Brown Road, in 2006 for $14 million with a plan to develop an industrial park there. Butters specializes in commercial and industrial development, and the site borders the 1.35 million-square-foot Lowe’s distribution warehouse at 2651 Ham Brown Rd.
That all changed last year when Osceola County revised its Comprehensive Plan and designated the property, dubbed Ham Brown Reserve, as a future Community Center, according to project manager Chris Raley.
Though the property was entitled for industrial development, the area around it has evolved into a suburban enclave. Next door, Lennar Homes is close to buildout of the Sedona community, which it acquired through a merger with CalAtlantic Homes. And just north of that, Lennar is adding nearly 1,000 homes in its Storey Creek master-planned community.
“As time has gone by, the residential side of things has promoted more growth down the Ham Brown corridor, so based on that and the fact that the county had changed Future Land Use from Industrial to Community Center, the family started looking at what were the different options for us to go forward with future development,” Raley said.
The partners are seeking a rezoning that would remove the the property from the Poinciana Planned Development. The 20 acres on the west side of Ham Brown Road would be zoned Community Center Core, and everything east of the road would be zoned Community Center Perimeter.
The new zoning designation designation would establish a residential density of 8-18 units per acre – with a minimum density of 18 units per acre in the center’s core. It also would require a mix of retail and other non-residential uses.
The partners engaged consultant Raley for his expertise with residential entitlements and brought in Kissimmee-based Rj Whidden and Associates and Hanson, Walter & Associates as planner and civil engineer, respectively. Earlier this month they submitted a Preliminary Subdivision Plan for the entire 217 acres, breaking the project into two phases, with the more intense Community Center Core (CCC) development in the later phase.
Phase 1 consists of a residential subdivision with 472 detached single family lots and 130 townhouse units. The plan includes three lot sizes with front-loaded and rear-loaded (40-foot) lots. There’s also a separate 298-unit apartment community designed as 3-story garden-style product, with its own pool and clubhouse.
“There’s demand today for the single family and townhomes,” Raley said. “The multifamily will be more in demand as the single-family gets developed. We do have a couple of multi-family buyers who have expressed interest.”
Once the project is fully approved and engineered, the partners intend to market it for sale. South Florida broker Douglas Kirlan represents the owners, and he told GrowthSpotter the project could be offered in whole or with the 13.55-acre multifamily site as a separate offering.
“We’ve had a lot of unsolicited, strong interest,” Kirlan said.
Phase 2 is designed as a mixed-use community center with residential, commercial and office building uses and structured parking. To meet the density requirements, the PSP shows multi-story buildings with flex commercial and office uses on the ground floor and residential uses on the three upper floors. The proposed entitlements comprise 237 dwelling units and 726,625 square feet of commercial and office space.
But developing a CCC project at that location now is, at best, aspirational, Raley said. The partners have completed similar mixed-use buildings in South Florida, but there is no demand for that level of density on Ham Brown Road.
“We have no idea when that will be attainable,” Raley said. “It’s not a new product for us, by any means. Whether it fits that space going forward, only time will tell.”
The owners are patient and willing to see how the market evolves over time, he added. The project serves as a test case, as it’s the first Community Center filing after the county-initiated CPA last year.
“Going forward, they’ll be able to use this as an example with what they want to do with other community centers they’ve done,” Raley said. “It wasn’t hard for us to envision what they wanted, even though the location was surprising. You see that kind of product in Orlando, like on Sand Lake Road and Lake Nona.”
The irony is that now, because of COVID-19, the demand for new e-commerce distribution warehouses has grown in the Kissimmee submarket.
Raley said he anticipates a 6-9 month timeline for permit approvals.