The first phase of the Winslow’s Pointe Planned Unit Development on Crooked Lake is waiting for a dispute about a fencing requirement to be resolved for the gas station planned for U.S. Hwy. 27 and Pine Crest Road in Southeast Polk County.
The Babson Park mixed-use project of Winslow’s Point has been approved; however Atlantic Funding Ltd. Managing Member and property owner Bill Cooley added the Circle K component earlier this year. It was OK’d in May by the Polk County Planning Commission but with a condition that an 8-foot fence needed to be built around the business.
Cooley is asking for the fence requirement to be lowered to 4 feet.
“We have a planned development, and it’s all supposed to kind of work together,” Cooley told GrowthSpotter. County staff continues to recommend the 8-foot fence, but Cooley plans to go before the planning commission again on Nov. 6 to argue that such a tall fence segregates the vision he is building.
“What I’m trying to do is bring this thing together,” he said.
Winslow’s Pointe has entitlements for 550 dwelling units and 124,400 square feet of commercial property. Plans for the community – bordered by Hwy 27, County Road 640, orange groves and Crooked Lake – show several ponds, community trails with observation towers and a large amenity center with a pool and tennis courts. The community borders the canal system at the county’s Crooked Lake Park, but the plans don’t show canal access from the property.
The 4,274-acre lake features fishing for bass and bluegill, plus docks and public boat ramp.
Cooley said residents and visitors will have access to Crooked Lake via a dock for launching canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and any other non-motorized water crafts. Access to the lake will “definitely help” when marketing the community, he said. “It’s a protected lake,” he said. “It’s one of the cleanest lakes in Florida, and it is quite an attraction.”
Cooley has a long history with the Winslow’s Pointe property, which is part of about 275 acres he owns. His wife’s first husband purchased 160 acres in 1967 with about 30 other people. Her husband died in 1985 and left her his portion. Cooley met her in 1986, and they married seven years later. Shortly after, his wife received a letter that the partnership was for sale for $250,000.
“We made a tender offer and acquired the land and started adding to it,” Cooley said.
Publicly traded Alico Inc. bought the property in 2005 and planned Winslow’s Pointe. The company put the property up for sale in 2015 - Cooley bought it back and started making his own plans.
After the convenience store, Cooley wants to subdivide the commercial and replat for a hotel, apartments for students at the two nearby colleges and single-family homes.
“The first thing I want to do is put a hotel there,” said Cooley, who has built many Holiday Inn brand hotels during his 50-year career. “I would like to go with a Holiday Inn Express. … There should be a fair demand right around there for overnight stays. With a lot of traffic coming up 27.”
Cooley said he has not approached any other hotel brands yet.