Walton Development received unanimous approval Wednesday from the Polk County Planning Commission for a 71-acre planned development at the southeast corner of U.S. 27 and Ridgewood Lakes Boulevard.
Mark Jacobson, senior planner for the global developer's Florida office, told GrowthSpotter having the PD approval means a new tenant could start construction on one of the outparcels in as little as four months.
The site plan currently shows five outparcels along U.S. 27 -- all approved for restaurants with drive-thru windows -- and a big box retailer larger than 65,000 square feet. The back portion of the site is entitled for multi-family, and Walton could target an assisted living facility or skilled nursing home instead of apartments.
"That's something we're seriously considering because of the proximity to Heart of Florida Hospital and the active adult community," Jacobson said.
The PD, referred to now as the DEVCO 72 site, is the first element of the massive Ridgewood Lakes DRI Phase 2. Polk County approved the original Ridgewood Lakes Development of Regional Impact (DRI) in 1984.
Del Webb Orlando opened the first phase or Ridgewood Lakes, an active adult community, in 2010. That section is approved for 2,488 homes.
Walton Aquisitions, an Arizona-based affiliate of the master developer, bought the surrounding 2,319 acres in late 2013. Jacobson said the project had the three key elements Walton looks for in a development: people, job growth and lots of permit activity.
"Like all the projects we end up buying, it was in the path of growth and it's in an area that has pretty good access from U.S. 27 and I-4 -- and it's close to Disney," Jacobson said.
Walton has spent two years updating the DRI to reflect changes in the local market and new transportation routes -- like Ernie Caldwell Boulevard -- that didn't exist when the community was planned.
The new development order entitles Walton for 5,571 homes in Phase 2, which is going to be rebranded as "Cordia." That number includes 2,435 single family detached, 586 townhomes and 2,550 multi-family units.
Before joining Walton, Jacobson previously worked as a project manager for Newland Communities. "That's the kind of development we aspire to have," he said. "We want to create a plan that's well thought-out and carefully designed -- a master-planned community instead of a bunch of subdivisions."
Jacobson said he expects Cordia to include some traditional neighborhood (TND) areas. Another option under consideration is vacation home product. Walton hasn't ruled out an age-restricted or age-targeted product, but that isn't the focus, he said.
A conceptual plan provided first to GrowthSpotter gives a peak at Walton's vision for Cordia. The northern segment fronting Ernie Caldwell Boulevard includes a shopping center backed by townhomes. The site plan shows two large amenity centers and an extensive trail network that connects with Ridgewood Lakes.
"Our main amenity is that we have over 1,000 acres of open space," Jacobson said. "Active trail systems are a highly sought-after amenity, and we're going to have a combination of paved and unpaved trails. Our residents will be able to ride a golf cart over to the golf course in Phase 1, but we're also going to have more nature trails that go through the heart of the open spaces."
The buildout date for Cordia is 2035, and Walton hasn't determined the phasing yet. Jacobson said it will depend on environmental permits and market demand. The developer has applied for permits with Southwest Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"The focus right now is to get our permits and our entitlements," Jacobson said.
Walton is a multi-national, privately-owned real estate investment and development group concentrating on the research, acquisition, administration, planning and development of strategically located land in major North America growth corridors.