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Canadian homebuilder picks Kissimmee for Florida market entry

About 90 of the proposed 206 townhouses would be three stories, with one bedroom on the ground level and two more on the third level.
About 90 of the proposed 206 townhouses would be three stories, with one bedroom on the ground level and two more on the third level. (Keesee Associates)

A homebuilder with more than 20 years of experience in Ontario, Canada is making its Florida market entry in Kissimmee with plans for a custom-designed 206-unit townhouse community just north of Osceola Heritage Park.

Sterling Group purchased the 30.5-acre site on Mill Slough Road, just west of Florida’s Turnpike, last summer for $1.15 million. This month the builder submitted an application package with a major amendment to the existing mixed-use Sunbelt Planned Unit Development.

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Much of the site already has medium-density residential future land use, but a portion of the land closest to the turnpike was approved for commercial use.

Sterling President Paul Federico told GrowthSpotter he was sold on the location because it’s close to highways, schools and retail. “Sterling specializes in infill developments entailing redevelopment of underutilized lands surrounded by an existing, desirable residential neighborhood,” he said. “Mill Slough meets all of Sterling’s requirements as a sought-after, family-friendly location.”

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Federico enlisted the Orlando office of NAK Design Strategies and tasked NAK associate Ryan Seacrist with the job of delivering a site plan that works around some significant site constraints.

The site plan incorporates an extension of Bill Beck Boulevard and a mix of two- and three-story townhomes.
The site plan incorporates an extension of Bill Beck Boulevard and a mix of two- and three-story townhomes. (NAK Design Strategies)

Seacrist said the project meets the city’s open space requirements and may include recreational amenities. The team had to design around a gas utility easement that bisects the property. The site plan also includes a road extension of Bill Beck Boulevard that will eventually provide direct access to NeoCity. Though it presented a design challenge, the potential for a direct road connection to NeoCity made the site attractive to Sterling.

“Early on, we put an exhibit together on NeoCity and everything that was happening there,” Seacrist said. “That led him to want to do more contemporary facade elevations to attract the tech crowd that might be working there.”

Keesee Associates created three unique townhouse products, including a rear-entry, three-story product that will be internal to the site. All are 1,831 square feet with three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. Orlando-based Carnahan Proctor and Cross is the civil engineer.

“Everything is custom to this project — especially the three-story product,” Seacrist said. “That’s generally not common in Osceola outside of projects like Celebration.”

These two-story, front-entry townhomes would be built around the perimeter of the site.
These two-story, front-entry townhomes would be built around the perimeter of the site. (Keesee Associates)

The two-story townhomes offer multiple options, including front- or rear-entry and a one-car or two-car garage. They even have options for a fourth bedroom instead of a loft on the second floor. Townhome sizes range from 1,650 square feet to 2,309 square feet.

He said only front-loaded, two-story units would be built along the perimeter of the community, where the site abuts an existing residential neighborhood. “Most of the existing homes are one story, so we didn’t want to go with three stories adjacent to them.”

Sterling is seeking multiple variances to allow the three-story units, to reduce the front, rear and side setbacks and to allow more than six attached units per building. The builder also has requested a variance to allow for two-story end unit townhomes to have entrances on the side of the buildings.

Federico said the townhomes will be fee simple units with projected prices between $250,000 and $350,000. “Our target market will be entry-level/ first-time buyers with the larger units geared to move-up buyers,” he said. “Some units will accommodate multi-generational famil units, more so the wider end units with two-car garages.”

Federico said the company has a team of local experts assisting in the Florida expansion. “We are actively looking for more opportunities of this nature,” he said. “I’ve been researching the central Florida housing market for some time, more particularly, the Greater Orlando Area. Market fundamentals are very strong with high demand chasing low inventory. I think this trend line will continue especially as more buyers return to the market after the pandemic wanes. We, therefore, felt that the timing was a good entry point for Sterling.”

The project is scheduled for Development Review Committee in April and could go to City Council in June. Federico anticipates starting horizontal development in spring or summer of 2022 with delivery of the first homes in late 2023.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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