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Dewberry will conduct preliminary surveying and engineering work to help determine the future land-use potential of the Judge Farms Property Development Plan in Osceola County, after being approved Monday by the county board of commissioners.

Dewberry's Orlando office won the contract for initial engineering work on the project with a bid of $626,451, beating out fellow finalists Hanson, Walter & Associates of Kissimmee, and CM Arrington & Associates of Kissimmee.

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"Their experience in sensitive permitting with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Water Management District were key factors," said David May, Osceola County engineer who helped coordinate the bid process.

Based in Fairfax, Va., Dewberry became one of Orlando's largest engineering, environmental, surveying and mapping firms after it acquired local Bowyer-Singleton in May 2013. Kevin Knudson of Dewberry in Orlando is listed as the project manager.

Acquired by the county in 2012, The Judge Farms Property consists of approximately 540 acres of predominantly low-lying farm land located east of Kissimmee and west of St. Cloud. The site is bordered by Neptune Road, Lake Toho and several residential areas to the south, and US 192 and Osceola Heritage Park to the north.

The county provided 20 of those acres last year for a partnership with University of Central Florida to build the 100,000-square-foot Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, a facility expected to open in late 2016 and generate hundreds of high-wage jobs.

The rest of the Judge Farms property will be redeveloped by the county over the next few years, with Dewberry's initial surveying and engineering work setting the tone for the project's design.

Osceola Heritage Park is a 168-acre parcel that houses the Silver Spurs Rodeo, the Houston Astros training facility (through 2016), an agricultural center, exhibit hall and multiple recreational fields.

About half of the Judge Farms land will be used for a regional storm-water project related to Lake Toho. It's a water quality restoration project that will accommodate storm water from both the Judge Farm property, and water that is currently retained on the Osceola Heritage Park site, said Jeff Jones, strategic initiatives director for the county.

By diverting that water into the regional storm-water system, it will free up several sites on the Osceola Heritage Park property to be filled, graded and developed for commercial uses to help attract more business and events to the area, he said.

"There's a shortage of hospitality and restaurant facilities on east US 192, and this will help free up that land (bordering the Heritage Park) for development that would support the Heritage Park, making it more marketable for future events," Jones said.

The Judge Farms Property Development Plan project includes constructing three large regional storm-water retention ponds or water storage facilities, filling nine existing storm-water ponds, permitting, mass grading to provide areas for economic development, extension of two roadways and utility design.

Development will take years to carry out, and doesn't have a time line now because Dewberry's engineering and surveying work will help identify what has to be done next on the vast property.

bmoser@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5685

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