Fifteen years after a plan was approved for Four Corners Town Center with 1.2 million square feet of retail and commercial space, the “town center” has two gas stations and a Subway and is instead becoming a residential hub.
Owners Albertson International and CentreCorp are asking Polk County for a comprehensive plan amendment to change the use of 60 of the 130 acres to allow single family homes.
“They are kind of victims of the economy,” Polk County Planning Administrator Erik Peterson told GrowthSpotter. “Big box retail (stores) are kind of on the way out. Posner kind of took all the commerce and big box out of the area.”
He added, however, there is still room for some big box stores such as Home Depot to compliment residential growth.
Four Corners Town Center, located at U.S. 27 and Ronald Reagan Parkway, is just up the road from Posner Park and ChampionsGate, busy and growing communities in the heart of the I-4 corridor near the four counties that give the region its name.
The developed portion of Posner Park includes 600,000 square feet of retail in its first phase of development plus transportation and a residential community called Posner Village. Victor Posner started this project a year or two before Four Corners Town Center started planning, Peterson said.
“The Albertson property for stand-alone commercial is probably too much,” Peterson said.
Tim Campbell, attorney for Winter Park-based Albertson International and Markham, Ontario CentreCorp, agrees.
“As Posner City Center developed and some other commercial nodes along 27 developed, you saw there was not as much need as anticipated,” Campbell told GrowthSpotter. “It appears that the latest trend is single-family and multifamily type uses.”
The large-scale comprehensive plan amendment would change the future land use of the 60 acres between Dunson Road and Ronald Reagan off U.S. 27 to Residential Medium from Regional Activity Center. A subsequent application filed earlier this month names Pulte Homes as the intended buyer and states that the plan would call for 368 units with a 60:40 mix of single-family detached homes to townhomes.
There is a multifamily project on an adjacent property owned by Orlando-based Four Corners Town Center LLC being developed by Red Clay Development Partners. The conceptual site plan submitted by Pulte creates a second multifamily site on Reagan Parkway.
More commercial development on the Albertson-CentreCorp land is likely, Campbell said. Prospective buyer Seefried Industrial Properties tried and failed in 2017 to get permission for distribution warehouses to be built on the land. County Commissioners said the use wasn’t compatible with surrounding residential communities.
“Albertson and CentreCorp have owned most of that land for a long time. I think they are reserving some for future commercial,” Campbell said.
Peterson believes that will look more like small strip-mall style commercial blocks, which are attractive now – nail and hair salons, massage centers, jewelry stores.
“The four-suite strip mall is golden,” he said. Every time you see one go up, it is immediately occupied. Amazon can’t give you a massage. They can’t do your nails and they can’t cut your hair."
They are attractive to people who live in the area because parking is right next to the store or perhaps in walking distance. For buyers, there are plenty of renters, Peterson said. The rent isn’t high and often it is a local owner who buys the center.
“The smaller the commercial parcels, the broader the market is for them,” he said. “With a large parcel, there’s only a select group of buyers.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include new details about the contracted buyer and the conceptual plan.