Traffic heading into Poinciana could be cars going to the new Southport Plaza shopping center by Christmas.
POINCIANA — A lot of local residents who drive by the intersection of Poinciana Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road probably think of traffic congestion, particularly in the morning or at rush hour.
Jan Jaroszewicz looked at the same intersection and saw something else: opportunity.
“You get over 51,000 cars at this location” every year, Jaroszewicz said. “This whole corner, by Christmas time, is really going to come alive.”
Jaroszewicz is the managing member of RealCap Associates, a development firm based in Bacon Raton that purchased land directly across the street from Poinciana Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road earlier this year, on the Southport Road side of the highway.
“What we’ve done here is we purchased a 3.7 acre site from Avatar,” the leading developer in Poinciana, said Jaroszewicz. “I spent three years on the deal, trying to get the right design and site plan, and we think we’ve got the best location in the city.”
Poinciana isn’t a city yet, but is made up of 10 villages that cut across unincorporated parts of Osecola and Polk counties. It has been one of the fastest growing communities in Florida in the past decade, and now has a population close to 80,000. As Jaroszewicz noted, that’s a lot of potential customers to service at the new shopping plaza and medical center he’s building at what will be called Southport Plaza.
It’s a project he envisions will be a solid commercial success.
“Poinciana has one of the lowest retail square footage per capita ratio of any community in Florida,” he said. “Poinciana is actually under-retailed.”
It’s a new project that’s being welcomed by a community eager for jobs and shopping that’s closer to where they live, said Jeanette Coughenour, manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the community’s homeowners association.
It also happens to be an ideal location, she said, because of the heavy volume of traffic that goes there.
“It’s right at the corner of Southport Road, which if you go west, it’s Poinciana Boulevard,” Coughenour said. “All of the (local) traffic goes there.”
“It’s an ideal corner,” added Fernando Valverde, a member of Poinciana Residents for Smart Change. “Poinciana is huge. It’s more than just the 10 villages. This community is 40 years old. Poinciana also includes the site for a SunRail stop, and so many schools and churches. It’s not just a bedroom community.”
SunRail is a 61-mile commuter rail line that would run from Volusia County to downtown Orlando, then continue into Osceola County and stop at the Poinciana Industrial Park. The project still awaits the approval of Gov. Rick Scott.
On March 8, RealCap closed on the sale of a portion of the corner lot to RaceTrac Petrolium, which is building a new gas station there, Jaroszewicz said.
“They’re going to do a brand new prototype,” he said, adding that the rest of the property would contain medical offices and retail covering 12,000 square feet of commercial space. RealCap already has pre-leasing agreements for half the office space, including a lease with Quest Diagnostics, he said.
Jaroszewicz added that his firm would also like to attract an “end cap” tenant.
“I would like to have a phone or eyeglass store, or a small sports-bar type restaurant where people can go get a beer and watch a game instead of driving all the way to Highway 192,” he said.
Southport Plaza just added a few new clients as well, including a day care facility, a bakery, and possibly a women and children’s clothing store.
“It’s mostly services,” Jaroszewicz said. “You’ve got to get the rents right and the economics right to make it work.”
His firm started working on this project in February, and hopes to be ready for a Christmas shopping spree.
“I think we could have a building by November, but it really depends on inspections, which take a lot of time,” he said. “I really think by the end of the year this corner is not going to look the same.”
Best of all, Jaroszewicz said, this project will mean jobs for the community, including 40 full time construction jobs and likely between 75 and 80 full time positions created in the offices.
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