Haines City is about to get a lot bigger with a 626-lot proposed residential development. The Keewin Real Property Company is under contract for 119 acres of citrus groves it wants to develop into a community called Cypress Park Estates.
“We don’t get 700-unit projects for Haines City very often,” Haines City Deputy Director of Development Mark Bennett told GrowthSpotter.
Winter Park-based Keewin is buying the property east of Powerline Road and the Hidden Lake Preserve subdivision and south of Johnson Avenue from long-time agriculture and citrus grower Wheeler Farms. “We are very excited about the project and we have had a great response from the homebuilders,” Keewin partner McKinzie Terrill told GrowthSpotter.
The first two phases of Cypress Park Estates consist of 537 lots, with a third phase adding another 89 lots.
Site plans show two dog parks – one for large dogs, one for small; a pool and pool deck; and 8.85 acres of recreation area including a play field and walking trails. Plans show entrances on Johnson Avenue and Baker Dairy Road.
The Haines City Planning Commission unanimously approved a zoning change for phases 1 and 2 last week to residential planned unit development (RPUD) from Residential 1. The changes allow for smaller lots. The development plan calls for 300 50-foot wide lots, while the 237 remaining lots will be at least 52 feet wide. The project will have an estimated value of $53.7 million, according to city documents.
The commission approved a land use plan amendment for phase 3 to reclassify the property to city low density residential from county agricultural/rural residential – basically allowing for more homes in a smaller area. Terrill said Keewin has letters of intent with homebuilders the company has previously worked with. He declined to name the companies. The property deal is expected to close in June 2020.
“We want to provide a really nice community down there and let my homebuilders meet the demand and the buyer type.” He declined to describe “the buyer type.”
Keewin has been developing properties for more than 40 years and has been part of more than 17,000 lots during that time, Terrill said.
Seller Wheeler Farms continues with its long-term plan, said David Wheeler, a third-generation citrus grower who runs Wheeler Farms with his brother Mark.
“We haven’t changed – we are citrus growers in the path of progress. We farm them (groves) until they are ready for development,” Wheeler told GrowthSpotter.
Wheeler Farms currently owns 2,500 acres, mostly in Polk County and some in Southwest Florida, he said.
The Wheelers sold 124 acres at I-4 and U.S. 27 in 2017 for a residential development and 460 acres in Brevard County for a solar farm. Polk County’s citrus acreage dropped to 66,969 acres in 2019 from 76,455 acres in 2017, according to the Aug. 28 preliminary report USDA Commercial Citrus Inventory.
With new development comes more demand on local facilities. The need for more roads is one demand. The developer will participate in building of a new road that will go through the community, Haines City’s Bennett said.
“It’s a challenge to make sure that the adequate public facilities are in place,” Bennett said. “The city is embracing the growth. We see it as an opportunity for more residents, more business.”
Haines City’s population was 25,533 as of April 1, according to Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research. That’s up from 20,560 in 2010 and 24,298 in 2018. This project alone is expected to increase the population by nearly 2,000 more people, according to impact statements submitted by the developer.
Winter Haven developer Cassidy Homes has assembled 375 acres just east of Powerline Road (in unincorporated Polk County) is seeking to entitle it for over 1,800 homes. Earlier this month, Haines City approved a 495-lot subdivision called Clay Cut Landings, to be developed by Feltrim Group.
“Our location in the middle of the state and close to I-4 is definitely a benefit,” Bennet said. “Generally speaking, lower land costs in Polk County are leading to more development occurring here. Land development closer to Orlando is starting to move our way.”
Terrill couldn’t agree more. “We’re seeing incredible growth,” he said. “We have been in the process of trying to find even future opportunities in the corridor as well. … We have more coming – that’s for sure.” Cypress Park Estates is on the agenda for the Haines City Commission for approval Nov. 7.