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The city of Winter Haven is rezoning the surplus land west of a wastewater treatment plant for a new industrial park. The 933-acre Florida's Gateway industrial park and CSX Terminal are shown in blue.
The city of Winter Haven is rezoning the surplus land west of a wastewater treatment plant for a new industrial park. The 933-acre Florida's Gateway industrial park and CSX Terminal are shown in blue. (Winter Haven)

Surplus land adjacent to a Winter Haven utility plant may become another industrial park to complement Florida’s Gateway, which serves as a centralized hub for transportation, logistics and distribution for Orlando, Tampa and South Florida.

The 203-acre site is located along Pollard Road, 12th Street East, Logistics Parkway and the CSX Facility, and is about only 2,100 feet west of the CSX railroad tracks with public access from Logistics Parkway.

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“It would mirror what would be allowed to the south,” Winter Haven Planning Manager Sean Byers told GrowthSpotter. Development would be capped at 2.2 million square feet of industrial space. “The intent is they need to be compatible” with the Gateway.

The parcel, owned by Winter Haven, is about one-fifth the size of the 933-acre Florida’s Gateway, which includes the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center – the transportation center. The first building, a 400,000-square-foot mega warehouse, was completed in 2015 by GEM Realty Capital and remains vacant, Byers said.

The owner still needs to win site plan approval from the city for the proposed Auburndale Commerce Center.

The master plan for Florida’s Gateway, which was started in 2014, is entitled for more than 8 million square feet of development. So far, no companies have moved in. The Gateway’s zoning allows for distribution, light manufacturing and office space. CSX and Winter Haven Industrial Investors LLC paid $8.5 million for the 1,250 acres that comprise both elements of the inland port.

The transportation hub – billed as one of the nation’s top 10 inland ports - is being used, Byers said. It’s a cargo transfer point – trains bring in or take out containers that are then disbursed by truck throughout the region or that head to be shipped by air or sea.

Winter Haven’s property is “one of the few large tracts of acreage in the City and surrounding region which is located in close proximity to a major rail line and with direct access to a 4-lane highway (State Road 60) with connections to major regional facilities such as US Highway 27, Interstate 75, Interstate 95, and Florida’s Turnpike,” according to planning staff.

The land is no longer needed for the waste-water treatment facility, Byers said.“We need to put another category on it to make it usable for another owner in the future. And industrial makes the most sense. … We believe it’s the highest and best use for the property.”

Details on three new distribution warehouse projects slated for the I-4 corridor in eastern Polk County.

The property isn’t on the market yet, and Byers said he is not sure when it will be for sale. “I’m just trying to get the land use and zoning on it.”

To start the process for an industrial park, the land must be rezoned from Public Institutional, Byers said. Winter Haven planning staff recommend the rezoning but it was continued to Dec. 2 meeting because of some wetlands issues that need to be discussed, he said. There are two wetland areas in the parcel.

Winter Haven is the heart of Florida’s “Super Region”, an area that generates $300 billion per year in economic activity, according to the Winter Haven Economic Development Council. Among the city’s target industries are healthcare; technology & innovation; freight transportation & logistics; business development; tourism & hospitality; and agribusiness.

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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