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Osceola wants international competition to design Judge Farms research park

Osceola County officials are seekings letters of interest from design firms for the Judge Farms master planning contract.
Osceola County officials are seekings letters of interest from design firms for the Judge Farms master planning contract.

With construction now underway at the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Kissimmee, Osceola County is looking for a design firm to master plan the surrounding 500-acre Judge Farms property.

The county posted a request of letters of interest (RFLOI) and statement of qualifications Monday for the project. "We want this to be an international competition," County Manager Don Fisher told GrowthSpotter.

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"We're really going to be considering experience, and then we'll shortlist three and ask them to compete to see who comes up with the best plan," Fisher said.

He said the county would pay the finalists $15,000-$25,000 to prepare a draft conceptual plan, which the county would own at the end of the process.

"We want to get all the best ideas," he explained.

The county also posted an RFLOI for planning and design services for the 394-acre College Station property, a mixed-use district and future home of Valencia College's Poinciana Campus.

The Judge property is located just south of U.S. 192 E., across from Osceola Heritage Park. The county already has identified three potential hotel sites at the park and Judge Farm, and will be posting a follow-up RFLOI for hotel developers interested in locating on the county-owned property. The research park could eventually be home to residential, retail and industrial uses.

It's zoned employment commercial, which allows for the highest density in the urban growth boundary. Fisher said the master plan would likely include 16 acres with frontage on U.S. 192 still owned by the Judge family. Bryan Judge Jr., who manages his family's holding company, told GrowthSpotter he is in the process of rezoning those parcels for hotel and restaurant development.

The goal is to create an urban-style, dynamic environment that fosters a culture of creativity and innovation by providing complete facility support to its resident companies and by facilitating interaction, networking, and collaboration among them.

"One of the things we've learned from visiting other high tech campuses is that if we want to attract the best employees, we need to focus on quality of life issues," Fisher said. "It needs to be a place where they'd want to sit outside and have lunch or go for a walk."

More than 150 acres on the site will be utilized for a regional stormwater facility that frees up land at Heritage Park for development and helps keep pollutants out of Lake Toho. Fisher said the retention pond will be designed as an amenity for the district with a 5-km walking trail and a park-like setting.

Judge Farms and Heritage Park are both within the county's E192 community redevelopment area, and the county plans to appoint a development authority with a full-time director that has control over the property, including the marketing and sale of parcels within the farm development. The authority would work closely with the winning firm to create an overlay district that would govern the redevelopment district.

"We'll end up with a set of covenants and restrictions that drive the uses and architectural design along that corridor," Fisher said.

Responses for both contracts, Judge Farms and College Station, are due by 2 p.m. on Dec. 15. A mandatory pre-submittal conference for the Judge Farms RFLOI is set for Nov. 19, and only firms represented at the conference will be considered.

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

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