St. Cloud-based AmeraTrail, which builds custom boat trailers, is planning for a new 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility as part of a larger 55-acre mixed-use development.
Owner Scott C. Locke has applied to rezone the land at the intersection of U.S. 192 and Old Melbourne Highway, near Harmony, from Industrial Restricted to Mixed-Use District for an employment center and 106-unit townhouse community.
John Adams, vice president of Rj Whidden and Associates, this week filed a Preliminary Subdivision Plan (PSP) which will be considered along with the rezoning application. Both are scheduled to go Osceola County's Development Review Committee this month.
"One of the real important parts of the puzzle is that this keeps existing jobs and creates new jobs," he told GrowthSpotter.
AmeraTrail was founded in 1986 and offers trailers for hauling vehicles and equipment, as well as concession trailers. Locke said the company sells primarily to boat manufacturers and dealers but also has a retail showroom for individual sales.
The new plant would be built in two phases, each one 75,000 square feet, and would anchor the development that would include up to 10,000 square feet of corporate office facilities, a 15,000-square-foot powder coat facility and a 9,100-square-foot retail and service facility.
Locke said the AmeraTrail operation is anticipated to create a combination of manufacturing, management and retail sales positions. The company would employ 63 people, he added, increasing to 123 employees at full buildout.
"We always wanted to stay in Osceola," he said. "It's where our employees are, and we didn't want to have to start over. So we're fortunate to have found property in Osceola County that's only four minutes east on U.S. 192 from our current location."
The site plan reserves about 10 acres for future development of light industrial, office or commercial uses. "The county is pretty happy with us trying to create a work center," Locke said. "They don't really want retail there."
The site plan includes a 6-foot landscaped berm along the northern boundary on Old Melbourne Highway to provide a visual buffer for any equipment or outdoor storage.
"We've provided a screen to those facilities from the neighbors, so they won't see them even when they're driving by," Adams said.
The property is currently owned by the Kiekhafer family trust, which previously carved off a 5-acre tract for the Florida Division of Forestry Service for a fire station. Locke entered into a purchase contract for the site in March, subject to zoning and permit approvals.
Locke said Snow Construction is on board to build the townhouse community, which will be separated from the employment center by a four-lane boulevard. The goal is to develop the townhomes at the same time as Phase 1 of the AmeraTrail complex.
"That townhome community is not typical for the area," Admas said. For example, only 32 of the 106 units would be built as a fourplex. The rest are fee-simple duplexes with a combination of front and rear-alley access.
Some of the units would face the new boulevard, while others would face either a lake or community park. Amenities would include a community pool and dog park.
Adams said the boulevard was designed to be a future signalized intersection at U.S. 192 providing access to Old Melbourne Highway. It could also extend across the highway should that property develop as a mixed-use or commercial center.
Hanson Walter & Associates is the civil engineer.
The site is just west of Harmony, a master-planned golf course community. Master developer Sun Terra Communities has approvals for more than 1,900 homes in the undeveloped western section of the community and recently signed Jones Homes USA to build the first 134 homes.