Richland Communities is ready to start building multifamily communities on nearly 181 acres in Polk and Osceola counties the company has owned for almost a decade. Richland wants to start with apartments on a 27-acre pod in Polk County near Davenport.
Sedona Ridge will start on Sand Mine Road east of U.S. 27 and bordering Osceola County, Matt Young, Richland vice president, told GrowthSpotter. Company representatives are talking with Polk County planners at this week’s Development and Review Committee meeting.
The Sedona property includes 95.2 acres in Polk and 85.4 acres in Osceola. Located just east of U.S. 27, it’s about 5 miles north of the Interstate 4 interchange and 3 miles south of U.S. 192. Richland purchased both parcels in 2013 under subsidiaries American Superior Land LLC and Park View Oaks LLC, respectively. The land is surrounded by existing single-family and vacation home communities, including Pulte Homes’ Windsor Island Resort and Mattamy’s Solara Resort and Soleil in Osceola County.
In Polk County, the southern portion is bounded by Student Drive and abuts Trinity Ridge by Park Square Homes. Another attraction for Richland, Young said, is the neighboring K-8 Citrus Ridge Academy on Sand Mine Road. Just west of the school, One Eleven Residential is building a luxury apartment community called Harper Grove.
“The area in and of itself has land use to support higher density, multifamily type development,” Young said. “We’re teeing it up. We’re kind of just starting the process. We’re currently looking to sit down with Polk County and eventually Osceola County to talk about required infrastructure improvements.”
Mattamy Homes is extending Sand Mine Road from Westside Boulevard to the Polk County line, which will add to the grid network envisioned for the area. Student Drive is also being extended as part of Mattamy’s Soleil subdivision, but Richland would likely be responsible for building the final segment.
A conceptual plan divides the property into eight pods, each about 20-25 acres, with four in each county. Two pods on the Polk County side are designated as potential sites for single family build-to-rent communities, while the other six pods are identified as multifamily sites. Richland is working with engineering firm Kimley-Horn.
Young sees the first pod in the north quadrant of the Polk property, next to the school, being entitled later this year and then permitting and development immediately following. The property is in a Residential High-X (RHX) land use district within the North US 27 Selected Area Plan in the Transit Supportive Development Area. Multifamily is allowed within RHX with density limits of 15-25 dwelling units per acre. The maximum density for Sedona because it is not adjacent to a regional activity center or transit center is 20 units per acre, according to Polk planners’ comments for Thursday’s DRC meeting. Still, that would allow for up to 537 multifamily units in Pod D.
“A lot of that (development timing) is market-driven,” Young said. “Assuming the market stays as strong as it is, we would want to bring that community online sooner rather than later.”
Richland likes Polk County for many reasons, Young said. “We’re pretty excited about the location we own here – from a geographic standpoint. But Polk County in general, the government there has been great to work with in years past and has continued to be. I think they understand the need to facilitate the housing supply shortage and implement proper planning. …They are just a great county to do business.”
In Osceola, the land would need to be rezoned, but it has an underlying future land use Tourist Commercial, which allows for up to 40 dwelling units per acre. Apartments are more expensive to build in Osceola, though, because of its $12,165 per unit school impact fees.
Inventory remains below the level of demand, according to Florida Realtors. “Demand for housing in Florida is still surging — and rising home and condo prices continue to reflect that.”
After the Polk pod, “there’s going to be about 150 acres remaining outside of that pod that we’ll continue to work with the local jurisdictions on as well as potential suitors to maybe sell off some of those components.” Young said Richland will consider apartments and Build-to-Rent (BTR) communities.
“Overall, there is certainly opportunity for a BTR community for the scale of the overall development,” Young said. “We’re seeing more and more national homebuilders online with BTR and also more multifamily BTR. It’s a lifestyle people enjoy and want to live within.”
There are two BTR communities in the pipeline close to Sedona Ridge. MAS Development is building Daven Point, a 224-unit BTR townhome community on Florence Villa Grove Road. And Third Lake Development is planning a BTR community of 173 single-family rental homes on Westside Boulevard at Student Drive, just south of Solara Resort in Osceola.
Richland is so excited about central Florida that its headquarters are now back in Tampa where they started, Young said. The company moved headquarters to California in 2003, but now CEO Matt Bray lives in Tampa and a new office has been opened in Orlando in Maitland.
“We see the Orlando market, as much as the Tampa market, as a great location to have a presence,” Young said. “It was just a way to cover more of the market area, a way to stay in touch with the overall markets.”
While Richland is working on deciding how to build its Sedona Ridge property, the privately-owned developer also is working to deliver large master-planned communities to Lake County. Richland recently purchased 370 acres in Groveland with entitlements for up to 740 residential units and a village core and 550 acres in the Wolf Branch Innovation District just outside of Mount Dora.
The Groveland property is likely a future investment, Young said. “It’s more of an investment opportunity in the area. That will have a little bit of a runway.”
The Wolf Branch property likely will see a concept plan and start of permitting in the next 12 months, Young said.
“We don’t have concept plans completed at this time, but it is certainly an area that we’re excited about and looking to program that in the near future,” Young said.
The district’s land use allows for multi-family – both apartments and townhomes – as well as medical, institutional and warehouse distribution.
“There’s a multitude of uses permitted in the Wolf Branch Innovation District and that’s what we’re evaluating in the market to bring forward later on this year,” Young said.