POINCIANA – At the corner of Poinciana Boulevard and Orange Blossom Trail, there isn’t much to stop traffic or catch the eye, except of course for the Home Depot at the intersection.
Right across the street from that intersection is a vacant field that goes for as far as the eye can see. There are train tracks that cross Poinciana Boulevard, and a sign that reads “Railroad Crossing,” with another sign nearby that says “Do Not Stop On Tracks.” The tracks go for miles, disappearing into that grassy field.
Right now, it doesn’t look like much. But as Fernando Valverde pointed out, it may hold the future to Poinciana’s economic revival.
“This is where the SunRail stop is going to be,” Valverde said, as he drove past the now-vacant field.
Last month, Gov. Rick Scott approved the construction of SunRail, a 61-mile light rail system that will run from Debary in Volusia County to downtown Orlando, and then on to Poinciana, which hosts the final stop. The intersection of Poinciana Boulevard and Orange Blossom Trail, now so sleepy and nondescript, is expected to become a generator for future economic growth once the station gets built.
“Two shopping centers are already planned for development at this location,” Valverde said. “The density for commercial and residential business will be amazing in the three, five and 10 mile radius.”
Valverde, a resident of the Solivita development on the Polk County side of Poinciana and a member of Poinciana Residents for Smart Change – a group working to improve Poinciana – thinks the arrival of SunRail will open a lot of economic doors for the community of 75,000 people.
He called this project “the beginning of a turn around of the economy in the Poinciana area on the western border of Poinciana and Osceola County.”
Poinciana certainly could use it. The community made up of 10 villages in unincorporated parts of Osceola and Polk County rode a residential housing construction boom in the past decade, but when the housing market crashed in 2008, it left behind a painfully high number of unsold homes, and an equally high home foreclosure problem and unemployment rate.
The SunRail station is expected to provide the community with a solid economic jolt, said Jeanette Coughenour, manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the community’s homeowners association.
“It’s very encouraging,” Coughenour said. “It’s going to happen. We wish it was already here.”
SunRail will across four counties – Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola – before making the final stop off Poinciana Boulevard, Coughenour noted, one of 17 stops on this light rail system.
“When reviewing information on that whole SunRail project, that’s the overall plan,” Coughenour said. “You want to offer our future residents or workers an opportunity to leave their cars and use the rail system. It’s another multi-modal means of getting from point A to B. I don’t have any doubt there will future growth around the station.”
Businesses will see opportunities to attract customers coming off the trains and will flock to be close to the station, she predicted.
“Even if you don’t live right there, there will be other utilization of services out there,” she said. “It’s a great economic impact.”
Nick Murdock is a member of the Poinciana Economic Development Council, which is sponsoring a series of job fairs in the fall and winter months to help connect Poinciana residents with the construction jobs coming down the pike from projects like the SunRail station.
He said SunRail is definitely one of the projects that the community thinks will help turn around the local economy.
“It truly is going to help create construction jobs here,” Murdock said.
Coughenour agreed, saying “I really believe that, too. Everybody is talking jobs, jobs, jobs, and that’s what we need here.”
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.