Construction on the long-delayed LTC Ranch residential and retail project could start by the end of 2020, adding to the building boom in western Port St. Lucie.
Associated Real Estate Southwest plans to build 4,000 residences and 725,000 square feet of retail space on a 2,055-acre agricultural tract bounded by Interstate 95 and Midway, Glades-Cutoff and McCarty roads.
An updated development order for the LTC Ranch project, which was first approved in 1997, received a green light May 7 from the Port St. Lucie Planning and Zoning Board. It faces a vote by the City Council on May 28.
“If everything goes well, perhaps (we’ll be) pushing dirt towards the end of next year,” said Ivan Chosnek, who is representing Associated Real Estate Southwest, after the May 7 meeting. “We’re pretty excited about moving forward.”
LTC Ranch is one of seven massive projects under construction west of I-95, where 40,000 homes are planned in the next three decades. The others are Tradition, Southern Grove, Western Grove, Riverland, Verano/PGA Village and Wilson Grove.
“They are going well,” Chosnek said about the other big projects. “They all have their niche. (LTC Ranch) is a little bit of a different submarket being at the north end of Port St. Lucie.”
“Western Port St. Lucie is poised to just take off,” Chosnek said. “Quite a few builders are now starting to look up here, national builders, so we think we’re poised to take advantage of that.”
The LTC Ranch residential and retail project is on the west side of I-95 across Glades Cutoff Road from PGA Village’s northwest boundary.
It remained dormant while the LTC Ranch industrial and office project on the east side of I-95 was sold to the Kern Company of Coral Gables and went forward, starting in 2007.
So far, 569,315 square feet of industrial space and 42,542 square feet of office space have been built in the LTC Midway Industrial Park, city records show.
Up to 1.6 million square feet of industrial and 1.5 million square feet of office is permitted on the 390-acre site east of I-95 and south of Midway Road.
One of the goals of the new development order is to legally separate the two projects so the different owners can pursue their projects, said Lee Dobbins, an attorney representing the developer.
The two land owners have negotiated a deal to divide the development entitlements as well as the obligations to build roads “so there’s no confusion on that going forward,” Dobbins said.
Developers are obligated to pay a total of nearly $30 million in road impact fees for the LTC Ranch project, Dobbins said. That’s about $24 million for the west side and $6 million for the east side.
Increasing the amount of retail development on Midway Road is the biggest change proposed for the LTC Ranch project.
The new plan calls for 73 acres of commercial development on Midway Road, instead of the 50 acres as currently planned, city records show.
Midway Road will be widened to four lanes from I-95 to the arterial road that will run through the middle of LTC Ranch, Dobbins said. Turn lanes will also be added on Midway Road leading to I-95.
“They’re actually going forward working on that already because they want to have a good entrance to the project,” Dobbins said about the Midway Road project.
There will be a seven-acre commercial site at Glades Cutoff Road and the intersection of a north-south arterial road that will connect with Commerce Center Parkway.
The developer has also negotiated with the St. Lucie County School Board to provide a 55-acre site for a new high school across the arterial road from the seven-acre commercial side on Glades Cutoff Road.
The site could fit a facility similar to the new Fort Pierce Central High School on 25th Street, said Michael Houston, a land planner working on the project.
Another new feature is a 113-acre park site with a 12-acre lake that will be turned over to the city, Houston said. The lake had been a borrow pit for fill for the construction of I-95.
Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Daniel Kurek, a retired planner with St. Lucie County, said, “I actually remember this when I used work at the county back when it first started up back in the early 1990s.”
“This is a very intense, long-running project that’s been around for a long time,” Kurek said. “It would be good to get this off the ground.”