Real Estate Developer Proposes Retail, Residential Project for Haines City

Published: Monday, July 14, 2014 at 8:38 p.m.
HAINES CITY | A Celebration real estate developer has proposed building more than 3,000 mostly rental units and 70,000 square feet of retail and office space in Haines City over the next few years.

If CBD Real Estate Investment LLC builds all four projects announced Monday, it would total as one of the largest residential developments in the city’s history, said Mark Bennett, a city planning manager involved in discussions with the Celebration developer.

“The cumulative impact of all of them would be significant,” Bennett said.

All four developments would aim at creating “market-affordable” housing, meaning no government subsidies involved, said David Waronker, CBD president.

“We see a tremendous increase in demand nationally, regionally and, most specifically, locally for affordable market rate for sale and rental housing,” Waronker said in a press statement. “There is no secret that those looking for housing have less to spend, but want now more than ever the best value for their hard earned dollars.”

One-bedroom apartments would rent for about $450 a month with three-bedroom units at less than $1,000, or about $400 cheaper than the Tampa and Orlando areas, he said. Single-family homes would sell for less than $200,000, half the $440,000 median price of a Polk County home in 2005-06 at the height of the real estate boom.

The developers expect current Polk residents would make up more than half the renters and buyers with the rest coming from Tampa and Orlando area residents looking for affordable housing, Waronker said.

Construction on two of the four projects could start within a year pending approvals from city and state officials, he said. A third project depends on construction of the proposed Central Polk Parkway, an extension of the current Polk Parkway farther east, and the fourth remains in the planning stage.

First on the block would be the $22.9 million Liberty Bluff gated community on 19 acres off Hinson Road near Power Line Road, Waronker said.

It would consist of 248 one- to three-bedroom apartments in three-story buildings, the press statement said. It would include common areas such as a pool, clubhouse, kiddie and do parks, a car cleaning center and a laundry with other recreational facilities.

Waronker said the company would like to begin construction by the end of the year, but Bennett called that timetable “optimistic” because of the zoning changes and other approvals needed.

“We’re going to do everything we can to move it along,” he said.

Most of the Hinson Road and other properties are zoned for single-family units and would have to be rezoned for multifamily structures, Bennett said.

The city would also need to work out financial commitments from the developers to help fund road improvements and additional school classrooms to serve the new communities.

The other ready-to-go project would be the $101 million Bonnies Landing residential community on 78 acres at 30th Street and Robinson Road, the statement said. It would have 1,128 apartments in three story building and include walking trails, two community centers, two pools, tennis and bocce ball courts, and both an adult and family clubhouse.

CBD would like to begin construction in the first quarter next year, Waronker said. The developers have construction money in place for both projects.

Perhaps the most ambitious project, Bella Dane Estates, on 39 acres on the south side of Johnson Road one mile west of Power Line Road, hinges on the state’s commitment to build the Central Polk Parkway. As currently proposed, the new highway would run along the eastern edge of Bella Dane a major interchange on Johnson Road.

“We want to know if (the parkway) is truly going to be built” before committing to the project, Waronker said.

The state has budgeted money for engineering plans but not for land acquisition or construction costs, said Bennett, who estimated construction could be seven to 10 years off at least.

In addition to more than 70,000 feet or retail and office space, Bella Dane would have 428 single-family homes, town homes and condominiums designed for single active adults and young professionals with middle to upper incomes, the CBD statement said. It did not project a cost but hoped to begin construction in 2016.

CBD described the fourth project still in planning on 68 acres near Grace Road and 30th Street as a high density rental community geared towards more affluent residents.

City officials have met with CBD developers over the past several months, said Bennett and City Manager Jonathan Evans.

Both said they see no insurmountable regulatory obstacles to any of the four developments going forward.

“We’re certainly excited about this development in our community,” Evans said. “We think these kind of developments will be a catalyst for other new developments in the Haines City area.”

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