Reporter

Downtown living: Two major Kissimmee apartment projects plan to lure residents

Toho Square parking garage is the first completed piece of the Mosaic Development project in downtown Kissimmee, but city officials say a new 300-unit apartment complex should break ground soon.

Housing options in downtown Kissimmee are set to expand after a developer filed plans with city staff earlier this month for a new transit-friendly $35 million apartment complex near SunRail.

Meanwhile, construction on Kissimmee’s Mosaic mixed-use project is expected to break ground a few blocks away later this year, city officials said.

Weston 4 Hundred

Dubbed Weston 4 Hundred, the new 206-unit apartment complex would be located within walking distance of the downtown SunRail station at the former Vulcan Materials concrete plant by the corner of Neptune Road and Lawrence Silas Boulevard.

The developer, Wendover Housing Partners, filed a site plan with the city in early March after considering the property for over six months, said Craig Holland, community redevelopment director for the city of Kissimmee.

The site plans call for sidewalk construction from the complex to Neptune Road, giving residents an easy five-minute walk to SunRail and the downtown Lynx station.  

The site was re-zoned to allow for residential use five years ago.

Creating more living space in downtown has been an active goal for city staff for 15 years, and Holland said he thinks the new project will be good for the growing urban community.

“Visitors are great, but someone who lives downtown will eat at local restaurants, participate in events, shop downtown and be that full-time resident that we need,” Holland said.  

Weston 4 Hundred would consist of three four-story buildings with elevators and surface parking. There are plans for a fitness center, a game room with pool table, a computer area, a resort pool and a dog park.

There would be 80 studio and one-bedroom units, 89 two-bedroom units and 37 three-bedroom units with rents starting at $1,000 for a studio and topping out at $1,700 for a three-bedroom.

Holland said a major selling point for the new complex is its proximity to the downtown SunRail station. According to a recent Florida Department of Transportation press release, SunRail ridership in January and February reached all-time highs, with daily ridership averaging more than 6,000.  

The development is expected to add 400 to 500 residents along Neptune Road, an Osceola County roadway already infamous for congestion.

But Holland said renters will likely work in downtown Kissimmee or utilize SunRail, helping mitigate traffic issues.

“New development will always generate traffic, but this should generate less,” he said. “Because of the ability to walk, bike, take the train or bus to get to work during peak drive times.”

There’s at least 90 to 120 more days before the developer can finish permitting and review, Holland said, but Wendover Housing Partners hasn’t announced a start date on the complex yet.

Mosaic apartment project

Another downtown Kissimmee apartment complex is getting ready to break ground this year.

The city’s redevelopment partner, Mosaic Development, is set to begin permitting soon and Holland expects construction to begin in late summer or early fall.

The apartments would include about 300 units and be located on the eight-acre lot bordered by Ruby Avenue, Lakeview Drive, Patrick Street and the railroad tracks.

The project, approved by city commissioners in late 2015, has faced some delays.

Kissimmee established Mosaic as the city’s downtown redevelopment partner over three years ago, contracting the company to deliver apartments, condominiums, parking, a hotel and space for retail.

Toho Square Garage opened last year, but progress on the apartments at the old Hansel power plant site hit a snag after soil survey results came back.

Holland said the site is now undergoing environmental review to meet residential standards.

“This was a power plant and there was a lot of environmental clean-up already,” he said. “We’re trying to determine if we’re meeting standards and if we don’t meet those, what else has to be done.”

Delays like these are common with urban re-development, Holland said - especially since this property has served many purposes over the years, from a propane farm to a citrus crate manufacturer.

“Everything from the soil type to Chinese tariffs on steel effect the pace of a project like this,” Holland said. “But it’s moving along.”

Mosaic hotel project

Getting the 120-unit boutique style hotel off the ground has also been a challenge.

After a lack of interest from the hospitality industry, Mosaic conducted a market study and found the hotel could fair better along the Ruby side of Toho Square as opposed to the eight-acre former Hansel power plant site.

Mosaic is now marketing the venue to developers as a business-style hotel with 100 to 120 rooms.

If no one is interested in building a hotel in the next couple of years, the city and Mosaic will need to switch gears.  

“We would go to Plan B and that could mean additional apartments, or something else, depending on what the market will bear,” Holland said.