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ORLANDO-Gearing up for an anticipated economic upturn over the next two years, elected officials in St. Cloud, FL (Pop. 20,777) have contracted to buy the 525-acre Stevens Family Ranch for $8 million or $15,238 per acre (35 cents per sf) where the city plans Stevens Plantation, a speculative 102-acre corporate campus, 400 executive-styled houses and a business park with an undetermined amount of retail/commercial.

St. Cloud is talking with private developers to do the project which has a tentative completion date of early 2005. The site is east of Canoe Creek Road and south of Fertic Road in unincorporated Osceola County, about 20 miles south of Walt Disney World. The project would be 30 minutes from Downtown Orlando.

City council still has to approve the land purchase at a public meeting Nov. 14. The city anticipates a proposed new Florida Turnpike interchange will be built at Kissimmee Park Road that will trigger commercial/retail/industrial/residential development near the Stevens Plantation site and allow motorists to bypass heavily trafficked U.S. 192 while traveling to and from the planned project.

An Osceola County developer, not associated with the city’s spec venture, tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity St. Cloud can always recoup its land purchase investment if the project fails by selling the dirt to a third party.

“The city bought the dirt at a good price so it will have no problem getting its money back or even making a small profit on the sale if it has to go that route,” the broker tells GlobeSt.com.

St. Cloud covers 9.75 square miles in a county that encompasses 1,467 square miles. St. Cloud officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com publication deadline.

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