A new 2,909-acre golf resort in Polk County would offer three unique courses, including one that winds through a massive oak hammock and another along the shore of Lake Kissimmee, according to consultants for the proposed buyer and developer.
The property just off S.R. 60 is owned by The Feil Organization, a New York-based real estate investment and development firm that has numerous assets in the Orlando market. Executive Vice President Jay Anderson said the land is under contract to a buyer, but neither he nor the buyers' representatives have disclosed who it is.
Canadian golf course architect and consultant Alan Chud is acting as the buyer's representative, assisted by Kimley-Horn's Lakeland office.
"We're pretty excited," Chud told county planners of the project, dubbed the Lost Oak Golf Resort. "We love it -- the lake location."
The consultants met with Polk's Development Review Committee in early February and again last week. They said at completion the course is expected to host 70,000 rounds of golf annually. They said the resort will capitalize on the expansive site with vast nature preserves, and will be designed to compliment the setting.
The remote location, about halfway between Winter Haven and Yeehaw Junction, and the large amount of state-owned lands nearby are advantages for this type of development. Polk County's award-winning Streamsong Resort has already proven that golf resorts can thrive outside of the tourism corridor and away from major metropolitan areas.
"The establishment of the resort with a focus on the environment, large open spaces, and outdoor sporting opportunities, requires a large tract of land which can be protected from the development of incompatible uses," the impact assessment statement reads.
Even road paving will be kept to a minimum, the planners said.
"It's not about saving money, it's about aesthetics we're trying to achieve," Chud said. "It's a very expensive project. There will be three entirely different types of golf courses."
The Oaks Course, just north of the welcome center, would wind through an oak hammock and abut a fish camp/restaurant with a marina planned at one of the existing boat ramps.
The Lake Course would stretch along the shore of Lake Kissimmee and curve around the Lost Oak Lodge. The third course, dubbed The Savannah, is planned in the center of the property.
The initial development plan calls for 40 cabins, each of approximately 2,500 square feet, for club members and overnight guests. The cabins would function as a hotel for the resort, with capacity for up to 160 guests.
The resort would have a central check-in facility where guests park their vehicles and then utilize a golf cart for internal circulation to the cabins, golf and other amenities. Employees would also be centrally parked in an employee parking area and then utilize a shuttle for access to their final destination.
The concept plan identifies about a half dozen eagle nests, which are all buffered, and expansive conservation areas that are marked as scrub jay habitat.
"We're helping out the birds, I guarantee it," Chud said.
Hundreds of acres are reserved for a shooting club. Most of the western third of the site is earmarked for passive recreational uses, to be determined. An initial concept mentioned possible equestrian facilities, but that wasn't included in the Master Plan.
Last week, the developer and owner received the go-ahead from Polk County's Development Review Committee for a large-scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment to change the land use from Agricultural/Rural Residential to Leisure/Recreation.
The case now heads to the county's Planning Commission, and if approved to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity before heading to the Board of County Commissioners.