Three years after SunRail began service to its southern terminus station on Poinciana Boulevard, plans are beginning to take shape for new development on hundreds of acres of the surrounding vacant land.
Earlier this month, Frito Lay announced it was rebooting plans to build a $180 million high-tech distribution facility in 2024 on 70 acres it owns across from the transit station.
Meanwhile, Osceola County is wrapping up its master planning effort for the 82 acres north of the station it bought last year from Taylor Morrison Homes, as well as the 16 acres owned by SunRail. Osceola County is seeking to exercise its air rights for the two separate parcels located east and west of the existing parking lot for SunRail Station. The county is calling its project SunRail Park, and the station serves as the center point for the 2,145-acre Employment Center.
The county enlisted Kissimmee-based Rj Whidden and Associates to come up with a master plan for the property to market the property for resale. The framework plan creates 11 blocks with a grid street pattern, a town center and a water park that functions as a master drainage system. The entire study area is in a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
“When fully implemented, the County’s complementary development program will be achieved and best serve its citizens in a region of need, support SunRail, trigger transit-oriented development and be proven a financially sound and productive Osceola County investment for the future of its citizens,” the report reads.
The county’s chosen affordable housing developer, Birdsong Housing Partners, is preparing to resubmit its application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the first 100 units of affordable housing. Deputy County Manager Beth Knight said the firm applied for the 9% tax credit in 2020 but was not selected.
Birdsong is seeking approvals for 354 units of multifamily residential in the development. The project would be known as Falcon Trace II, a follow-up to its Falcon Trace community in the Hunter’s Creek area. Knight told GrowthSpotter the first 100 units are planned for Block 8, which is just north of Rail Avenue. The remaining apartments would likely be developed in lots 1 and 2, which abut the future K-8 school on the Knightsbridge property that is slated to open in 2024.
Additionally, Kissimmee developer Thomas Chalifoux Jr. and his son, Niles, are running parallel tracks on three separate projects in and around the Poinciana Station. Chalifoux Management Group controls a combined 96 acres, including 36 acres immediately north of Rail Street called Sunray Station.
Chalifoux has applied to rezone the Sunray Station property from Planned Development to Employment Center Core, which is consistent with the future land use. He also is seeking approval for a Preliminary Subdivision Plan that creates three lots with street grid pattern that interconnects with the future streets in the county-owned land. A narrow strip of land still owned by Taylor Morrison will be conveyed to Osceola County.
The PSP indicates the three lots would be developed with mixed-use buildings utilizing structured parking. Since they fall in the TOD-core zone, they must meet a minimum density of 30 dwelling units per acre and 1.0 Floor Area Ratio. The Rj Whidden plan notes that the Chalifoux property could be developed independent of the county-owned land, and it indicates the owner already has plans in the works to build a 5-story, 324-unit apartment complex on the block next to lot 8. “Architectural plans are near completion,” the report states.
The county’s master plan is designed to show the future build-out potential of the site. “Over time, the Master Plan will develop as a hub of compact and efficient affordable housing and mixed-use TOD neighborhood development, to include a walkable, connective environment, a connection to a possible urban school, civic uses, bus stops, common amenities and service retail nodes.”
However, the plan notes that development will be allowed to occur in phases under “current market conditions” so long as the density and intensity can be increased over time. “One example is an apartment complex where the ground floor is built to commercial standards and ceiling heights; but used initially for apartments until the market ripens for commercial. A second example is building a portion of a block with development that can be served with surface parking; but designed so structured parking can be added when the remainder of the block is built out without having to demolish the existing structures.”
Chalifoux also owns property at the southwest and southeast corners of the Poinciana Boulevard and U.S. 17-92/Orange Blossom Trail, which he’s named Sunray Junction and Sunray Junction West. Both are within a half-mile of the station, which puts them in the Transit-Oriented Development Overlay.
“These projects will very much enhance SunRail ridership,” Niles Chalifoux said. “We plan to host a grocery store, restaurants, urgent care facility, office and retail space, and multi-family real estate. With great anticipation we have waited for the new vision the county has put forth, and feel this vision is a game-changer for the area.”
Chalifoux already has approved subdivision plans for both projects and is close to getting a Site Development Plan approval for the Sunray Junction.