County buys land to bring affordable housing near Poinciana SunRail station

  • Osceola County Commission
    Osceola County Commission

County buys land to bring affordable housing, commercial business to land near Poinciana SunRail station

Osceola County is buying 82 acres of land near the Poinciana SunRail station for commercial development and affordable housing.

The County Commission approved the $8.9 million purchase at the Jan. 13 meeting.

The parcel is on the northside of the station, the last stop on the 16-station commuter rail system that runs 49 miles from Kissimmee north to Sanford.

County staff brought the idea to the commission after plans to build single-family homes on the property fell through, said County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb.

“We knew it really needed to be high-density development around the SunRail,” she said.

After closing on the deal, the county will create a master plan that includes commercial businesses and high-density residential units and then search for a developer to execute it.

Officials said the county could sell a portion of the development to recoup some of the investment.

“Affordable housing is a basic need for our community and the county has been creative in trying to find solutions,” said Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer.

That includes the county’s year allocation of $1 million to help developers move affordable housing projects forward and Cameron Preserve, a 100-unit affordable housing complex built on land donated by the county to the developer, she said.

Legislature this summer stripped local governments of the ability to require developments to include an affordable housing component as part of market-rate projects, Grieb said.

The commission is «doing all we can but you can(t stop growth, you can(t really slow growth, she said. We have the highest impact fees in the state and you would think that would slow things down, but it hasn't."

The county said the need for affordable housing in Osceola is most intense for households earning $35,000 or less.

Osceola County is the fastest-growing county in Central Florida, primarily because there(s so much undeveloped land,
Grieb said.

Seventy percent of the 1,300 square-mile county is outside the urban growth boundary, but there(s still «a ton of property in the urban growth boundary, she said

Still, 5 percent of Osceola County families

about 55,600 earn less than the basic cost of living, according to the county

About 13 percent of the county's estimated 36,000 residents live in poverty, according to VS Census data from 2019

Similar to Poinciana SunRail station deal, the county last year moved forward with plans to develop nearly 200 acres of county-owned land near Osceola Heritage Park

The county is working with Riviera Point Development out of Miramar to develop as many as four hotels on the land.