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Winter Haven continues to draw single-family home growth more than multifamily

Winter Haven's Planning Commission approved the rezoning for a new 553-home subdivision in January.
Winter Haven's Planning Commission approved the rezoning for a new 553-home subdivision in January. (Hunter Engineering)

As other parts of Polk County attract large multi-family and mixed-use communities, Winter Haven continues to see most of its growth in single-family homes.

“Mostly almost everything we’re looking at is single-family subdivisions,” Winter Haven Planning Manager Sean Byers told GrowthSpotter. “We’d like to see more multi-family in the city – there’s a need for it – but single family seems to be what’s dominating the market right now.”

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H.R. Baxter & Sons Enterprises is moving forward with plans for 553-single-family homes along C.R. 653 and Old Bartow Lake Wales Road and is now in the site plan and staff approval process after the 200-acre property was rezoned in January to Planned Unit Development from Single Family Residential — Small Lot (R-2) and Conservation. The plan is well below the maximum density of 824 homes allowed under PUD zoning.

A site plan by Hunter Engineering shows “B&B Ranch Subdivison” being built in three phases of 40- and 50-foot lots: 198 lots in the first phase – west of the Peace Creek Drainage Canal; 163 in the second – also west of the drainage canal; and 192 in the third – to the east. Of the total lots, 43% are planned for 50 feet; 57% for 40 feet.

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“We’re starting to see more of a trend toward 40—foot lot widths in general,” Byers said. They are attractive to homebuyers who don’t want the yard work and upkeep, but also “it’s an attempt to keep the houses affordable.”

The property includes about 40 acres of wetlands. “The Peace Creek tributary to Peace River – and there’s an extensive flood plain that goes with that. They are staying out of that area,” Byers said.

This site plan is a work in progress, having been through only one review, Byers said. Planners are working with the engineer and developers on upgrades to roadways, intersections, and utility extensions from the north to the property. While the surrounding roads are maintained by Polk County, the land was annexed into Winter Haven about 15 years ago, said Byers, who estimates the process would be completed and construction started in about 6 months.

Peace Creek Village on Old Bartow Lake Wales Road is primarily single-family homes, but the site plan also includes a multifamily component (blue) consisting of six 12-plex buildings.
Peace Creek Village on Old Bartow Lake Wales Road is primarily single-family homes, but the site plan also includes a multifamily component (blue) consisting of six 12-plex buildings. (Envisors LLC)

Another mixed-residential project expected to be proposed to Winter Haven also along Peace Creek is being discussed Thursday at the Polk County Development Review Committee (DRC) because county roads would be affected.

Winter Haven-based BFR Development is looking to build Peace Creek Village immediately east of the B&B Ranch project. It would include 311 single-family, 72 multi-family units on 98 acres located on the north side of Old Bartow/Lake Wales Road between McLean Road and Gary Street. A site plan by Winter Haven-based civil engineering firm, Envisors, shows the multifamily portion would be composed of six 12-plex buildings with surface parking overlooking a retention pond.

BFR is made up of Polk County contractor James Blackwell, landowner Donald Fraiser and developer Darryl Riley. Winter Haven planners have talked with the developers about the project but haven’t seen a formal site plan for approval, Byers said.

According to Polk County DRC staff notes, the property is located in the City of Winter Haven utility service area. BFR also will have to talk to Winter Haven officials, along with HR Baxter about upgrading McClean Road. BFR also will need Right of Way dedication on McClean, Gary Street and Old Bartow Lake Wales Rd. Only the roadway connections will be reviewed by Polk County.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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