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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Ridgecrest Development Moves Closer to Reality

Finalized Developer Agreement One of Last Hurdles

 

Last updated 12/11/2023 at 2:41pm

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

This site map of the Ridgecrest neighborhood is depicted with Ridge Manor and points east at the top, and downtown Lake Wales off the map to the left. The development will eliminate the historic path of Ray Martin Road in favor of a new grid of neighborhood streets accessed off south First Street, but the southernmost portion of Ray Martin Road will be improved to provide a southern access point. Two streets will connect to US 27 to the west. Multi-purpose trails, depicted in red, will allow bicycle and pedestrian access to commercial areas without traveling on major roadways.

The expansive Ridgecrest development took a step forward recently with the approval of a "developer's agreement" by the Lake Wales City Commission that provides for the costs of infrastructure for the 312 acre project. The previously-approved planned-development project includes 1,020 single-family and townhomes located south of Russell Avenue and north of Hunt Brothers Road, between US 27 and SR 17.

Included in the design is a new multi-purpose trail that will extend from south First Street to wrap around small ponds on the site, eventually extending to South Scenic Highway. During commission discussion Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson raised concerns that the proposed text called for only an "eight to ten-foot-wide" trail when other city designs call for 12-foot trails. The language was changed to provide the wider trail before approval.

The site design will connect the new neighborhood with city street grids at several locations, allowing residents direct access rather than funneling traffic directly onto collector roads. The agreement provides that the developer will share in the cost of both the trail and an extension of Ray Martin Road to connect with Scenic Highway, adding that southern access to the neighborhood. Internal traffic circulation design within the development includes four traffic roundabouts within a grid pattern looping around the multiple ponds and wetlands within the site.

Ridgecrest is planned to be constructed in three phases and will fill in a large blank in the city's residential areas stretching from Russell Avenue and First Street South to US 27. The south end of the parcel will be adjacent to the soccer fields on Hunt Brothers Road. It will also abut Love's Travel Stop, and Ridge Manor, which lies just to the east of the parcel.

Plans call for 370 40-foot-wide lots, 448 50' lots, and 202 townhome units. Frontage along US 27 will be used for commercial purposes both north and south of the development entrance.

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

The improvements to the southern portion of Ray Martin Road will connect the new neighborhoods to Scenic Highway.

The tract was once owned by the Lake Wales Community Development Agency, which purchased it under a different administration. The CRA had purchased the property for development purposes in the 1990's and constructed the Longleaf Business Park, now known as the Lake Wales Commerce and Technology Park, on the western portion of the property.

The original Mayfair proposal, designed to include a golf course, resulted in the city's sale of the land to an Irish development company. A subsequent bankruptcy saw the CRA reclaim the land and re-sell it to the current ownership group, Ridgecrest of Lake Wales, LLC.

 

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