Osceola County is putting two of its most prized land assets on the market in the hope of capitalizing on the red-hot real estate market.
The county’s procurement office this week issued a Request for Letters of Interest (RFLOI) for the balance of its holdings at the Poinciana SunRail site and for a portion of the county-owned land behind the Valencia College Poinciana campus.
Procurement Director Rebecca Jones is managing the solicitation, which states that the county’s goal is “to facilitate private sector development of quality and type to generate high wage jobs, operate in the targeted industry sectors of manufacturing and increase the ad valorem tax base.”
Osceola County purchased the 82-acre site immediately north of the SunRail station in 2020 for $8 million and selected Birdsong Housing Partners to build 354 units of affordable workforce housing at the site. Construction on Falcon Trace II is slated to start this month. Birdsong received a $6.6 million SAIL loan from the state, which will go to reimburse the county for the property.
The RFLOI offering includes the remaining 62 acres of county-owned land with Employment Center zoning. The site already has a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) master plan by Rj Whidden and Associates that also incorporates the adjacent mixed-use SunRay Station project, which is owned by Chalifoux Management Group.
Peter Bergner, development director for O’Connor Capital Partners, predicts there will be a lot of competition for the SunRail site. He managed the development around the Tupperware SunRail property, including pending sales for three multifamily communities.
“I think they get they’re going get demand. I think SunRail and the TOD work. The only question is, how fast do they get the office?” Begner said. “They’ll get multifamily? Yeah, in a heartbeat. And I think that that we all agree they’ll get multifamily. The issue is how fast do the businesses catch up to the convenience of the TOD. I think they’re starting to, though. I really do.”
The key, and what will make the Poinciana site even more attractive, will be if SunRail and Brightline consummate a deal for the so-called “Sunshine Corridor” that would allow for interconnectivity between the north-south line and the proposed east-west line between Orlando and Tampa.
“SunRail works as it is, but it would work better if they can get the east-west connections,” Bergner said.
The second site listed in the RFLOI is the Mac Overstreet Site, also known as College Station. Included in the offering is 86 acres of the 351-acre regional park stretching from Pleasant Hill Road to Lake Tohopekaliga. The acreage is immediately north of the Bellalago boating community and behind the Valencia College campus.
Osceola County had been in negotiations with an Indiana-based developer in 2016 for a proposed wellness-themed mixed-use community. But the developer backed out of the project over a dispute about whether to include a student housing component. This is the first time the county has put the land back on the market since that deal went up in flames six years ago.
Osceola County Property Appraiser puts the appraised value of the parcel at $10 million. Jones said the county has not sought a separate appraisal for the 86 acres.
“They’re both great sites,” said Brian Capo, managing partner for FL Retail Advisors. “I think there’s definitely to be a lot of interest in any of those because there’s quite a bit going on over there now — a lot of new retail development over there. I sold a couple of assets nearby, like the Dollar General. They’re pretty much across the street from Valencia (College).”
Jones told GrowthSpotter the county will accept letters of interest for one or both properties. The decision won’t be based on purchase price. In fact, the solicitation strictly states that the respondents should not include a proposed purchase price and that the initial deposit should be shown as a percentage of the negotiated price — not a dollar amount.
Instead, the response must include the proposed uses and economic impact for the property, as well as a conceptual rendering of the developed project. They should also describe the compatibility with surrounding development activities in the area. Consideration and ranking will be largely based on which proposals will create the most high-paying jobs “in the area of manufacturing.”
Proposals are due Oct. 18 at 2 pm.