A Kissimmee construction firm that specializes in building charter schools is under contract for a 50 acre site on South Orange Blossom Trail and plans a mixed-use development featuring one of its new schools.
Southcrest Management is a design build firm that focuses primarily on charter schools and has built several facilities in Central Florida. CEO Mike Ezzard held a pre-application meeting Wednesday with Osceola County’s Development Review Committee to flesh out the preliminary plans for the land at the southeast corner of Orange Blossom and Ham Brown Road.
Ezzard said the company plans to build a K-8 charter school to serve up to 1,500 students, with a goal to open initially as a K-5 in time for the 2022 fall semester.
“We had a preliminary meeting with the school board a charter school going in on this site, and they seemed receptive,” he said.
The conceptual plan also creates several commercial parcels for future retail development and possibly a day care facility, while the southern half of the property would be earmarked for a 335-unit garden apartment complex.
“This was an existing PD for townhomes that they actually took all the way through the approval process, and actually got the site approved and the South Florida [Water Management District] permit on it. And then it all expired,” Ezzard said. “They were going to just do townhomes everywhere. We tried to keep basically the same density because it was also for garden apartments.”
The property abuts Lennar’s Storey Creek subdivision to the south, but a large stormwater pond and wetland would create a significant buffer between the proposed apartments and the residential neighborhood. Just south of the wetland, there’s about 1.3 acres that back up to a half-dozen lots in Storey Creek. The subdivision’s street system dead ends into that property, but Ezzard said Southcrest would not be able to develop that land because of the wetland.
“I’d be happy to work with Lennar on that, because it doesn’t do us any good,” he said.
Storey Creek, which stretches from Ham Brown to Pleasant Hill Road, is approved for nearly 1,000 single family homes. The homebuilder currently offers 16 different floorplans ranging in price from the low $200,000s to the high $300,000s.
DRC Chairman Jose Gomez told Ezzard the interior layout of the mixed-use project looked good, but the developer needs to make sure the interior framework streets meet the county’s comprehensive plan and the connections to Ham Brown Road don’t create traffic jams during school loading and unloading periods.
“The next step would be for you to submit a major PD amendment that will go through public hearings,” Gomez said. Southcrest also would need to submit a preliminary subdivision plan to carve out each lot for the commercial uses, the school and the apartments. He recommended Southcrest file both applications at the same time to expedite the approval process.