PALM BAY — The Emerald Lakes development in southeast Palm Bay got the green light June 21 to establish a Community Development District, which is the first step in a plan to build 3,760 residential units, 2.8 million square feet of commercial and retail space, and 700 hotel rooms.
“This is the beginning of how we will be working on financing and building the infrastructure and maintaining the site,” said Brenda Yates, planner for Emerald Lakes. “Our next step is to complete the Development and Environmental Permit process through the various agencies through 2018. Land development, and road and utility infrastructure will begin shortly thereafter.”
Emerald Lakes – located south of Grant Road, north of Micco Road, and bisected by Interstate 95 – encompasses approximately 1,560 acres and is currently vacant land used for cattle grazing.
In its design plans, Emerald Lakes has incorporated features from many successful Florida cities and towns such as Winter Park with walkable neighborhoods, museums and boutique shopping, Lake Eola with a community destination for festivals and concerts, Coral Gables with its mixed-use main street, and St. Augustine for the blending of historical and the natural environment with housing and small businesses.
“As the southern entrance to the Space Coast, Emerald Lakes will be a new town providing a mixed-use center with diverse housing, retail shops, professional offices, education and medical campus, and a business and technology park to support existing and future residents and employers,” said Ms. Yates.
Fishkind and Associates, an economic and financial consulting firm in Orlando, estimated that upon complete build-out, the economic impact of Emerald Lakes will directly support 11,798 jobs annually and generate an additional 6,572 full-time jobs within Brevard County.
“Emerald Lakes has been in the pipeline for many, many years,” said Councilman Brian Anderson. “We really need this development.”
Emerald Lakes, formerly named Emerald City, was originally brought before the City Council in 2009 with construction set to begin in 2012. Delays with the St. Johns Heritage Parkway interchange in Palm Bay meant that Emerald Lakes, which is located at the four corners of the interchange, could not proceed until the interchange was under construction.
“Fortunately, the Florida Department of Transportation is well underway and the interchange is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018,” said Ms. Yates. “St. Johns Heritage Parkway, the adjoining east-west route to Babcock Street, will be completed the first quarter of 2019 and Emerald Lakes will begin development.”
By creating a CDD, Emerald Lakes is taking advantage of the Uniform Community Development District Act of 1980, which allows the developers to move forward with building infrastructure such as roads, utilities, lighting, bike paths and parks more quickly than if they waited for the county or city.
“This is very similar to Viera and Suntree,” said Councilman Harry Santiago, Jr. “They sort of have their own governing body. They assess themselves, they basically do everything themselves. At the same time, the great thing about this is they’re still paying taxes in Palm Bay, so that money is still going to Palm Bay coffers.”
For more information on Emerald Lakes, including maps and concept plans, visit www.emeraldlakes-florida.com.