Massive Retirement Community Planned for Rural Osceola Cattle Ranch – GrowthSpotter
The 14,212-acre ranch in Yeehaw Junction, owned by descendants of Osceola pioneer Leroy Bass for generations, is under contract with an Orlando developer who envisions it as a destination retirement community with a dozen lots golf courses, helipads and nearly 34,000 homes.
Sun Terra Communities has a long and successful track record in building and delivering planned communities, including Harmony and Hills of Minneola. Director Richard Jerman said GrowthSpotter he has been monitoring the Rohde property for years. And he’s had years to come up with a name for the biggest project he’s ever undertaken: Freedom.
Now with financial backing from a private equity firm JEN PartnersSun Terra has entered into a multi-year purchase agreement with the Rohdes that allows the family to continue to operate the ranch during the licensing and initial development phases.
“Freedom is the greatest opportunity I’ve had in my years in the real estate business,” Jerman said.
Today, Sun Terra will file an application with Osceola County to amend the overall plan, changing the future land use from agriculture/conservation to low-density residential for what would be one of the most Florida’s largest active adult communities, second only to The Villages.
“We spent a lot of time developing the master plan, amenities and future lifestyle,” Jerman said. “We are beginning the lengthy eligibility process, which we hope to complete in 24 months.”
Jerman turned to longtime collaborators and planners to Rj Whidden & Associates to create the concept plan with 15 distinct neighborhoods, all with shopping malls, golf courses and waterways. The Sun Terra team also includes Denver principal Marlowe and regional partner James Dunn.
The Rohde Ranch spans 22 square miles on State Route 60 in southern Osceola County across from the DeLuca Reservation. It was part of the doomed Destiny project, a proposed town in the heart of the Kissimmee River Valley that collapsed amid a series of lawsuits, criminal convictions and economic recession.
Unlike Sun Terra’s other projects, this one sits outside the Osceola County urban service area, which means obtaining permits will be a difficult climb. In addition to obtaining county and state approval for the large-scale CPA, Sun Terra will also need to rezone the acreage as a planned development and obtain approval from the Florida Legislature for a new management district. freedom to govern and manage development.
Bob Whidden led the planning effort for Destiny and still believes the SR 60 corridor is ripe for new development, especially at US 441 and Florida’s Turnpike interchange.
“It’s the crossroads between the east coast, everything on the east coast there, all the way to Bartow, Tampa, Sarasota, all that area there,” Whidden said. “And then you have pretty much the same thing with West Palm Beach and Orlando doing the top and bottom of that X.”
Whidden said the project is designed to be as self-contained as possible. It has three town centers covering 190 acres seeking rights to approximately 5 million square feet of commercial, office, retail and civic uses. These could include hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, theaters, bandstands, helipads, electric vehicle charging centers, marinas and country clubs with championship and level golf courses executive.
“We have so much open space in this thing and so much recreation with 216 holes of golf, it’s two championship golf courses with 27 holes each, as well as a series of nine 18-hole executive courses,” said said Whidden.
The master plan also provides for a set of service centers and activity centers with police, fire and other municipal services, grocery stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices and clinics, warehouses, parks, community pools and other sports facilities.
The primary mode of transportation within the community will be electric golf carts, so charging stations and golf cart parking will be incorporated into each mall. There will be miles of trails and golf cart paths – along every street and interior roadway, as well as in numerous nature preserves. The project will not be fenced, but Jerman expects there will be fenced neighborhoods within it.
The master plan calls for the developer to restore approximately 1,000 acres of disturbed wetlands, the largest of which will be used to mitigate development in upland areas.
Building a community of this scale could take 25 years, and Jerman said the earliest they could begin construction would be late 2023. Sun Terra would establish its own residential construction division for Freedom, he said. declared.
The project should be largely autonomous. It is bounded on the west by the Turnpike, on the south by El Maximo Ranch (38,353 acres) and DeLuca Preserve (27,000 acres), and on the east by Adams Ranch, which has conservation easements that require it to operate as a ranch in perpetuity.
A continuous network of interconnected waterways surrounds the wetlands and serves as anchor points for each of the malls. These waterways were designed to provide miles of access by private boat or community water taxi between approximately half of Freedom’s residential neighborhoods and many non-residential centers as well as all activity centers.
Two industrial centers would provide space for outdoor recreational vehicles and self-storage. Whidden said the district could also contract with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office for security and police projection. It would probably have its own substation and fire station.
The proposed Freedom Stewardship District would issue general bonds and revenue bonds to finance the construction of water and sewer treatment plants, roads, parks, streetlights, and stormwater systems. The property already has three existing wells, and the Bohdes have applied for a consumptive use permit to pump up to 2.58 million gallons per day of groundwater to support its hay and turf operations.
The St. Johns River Water Management District has issued a notice of intent to grant the permit, and it is forwarded to the board of directors for a final decision on July 12.
Jerman knows to expect a backlash from conservationists. He said it’s important to note that the property is not pristine and the existing wetlands are of poor quality. “This land has been used for agricultural purposes, mainly for cattle, for decades,” he said. “They changed the whole context of the earth. The environmental impacts have already been realized. We will be returning a significant area of grazing land to wetlands, which is part of the environmental mitigation of the project. »
Sun Terra Fiance John Burns Real Estate Consulting to conduct financial analysis supporting the demand for more active adult communities in Florida. The study looked at more than a dozen developing communities over the age of 55 in central Florida. Several are among the nation’s best-selling planned communities. These include The Villages, Latitude Margaritaville and On Top of the World. The active adult community of 6,000 households planned in Sunbridge’s phase two, assumed to be a Disney community, was not named in the report.
“We looked at the demographics and the upcoming numbers of the population reaching that age of 55 and older, and the primary migration area is Florida,” Jerman said. “So we think there’s a great opportunity, especially in this location, close to the beach and the Palm Beach and Orlando airports.”