WINTER HAVEN – By now, many residents have learned that a local developer is planning to build a hotel, an apartment complex and a yet-to-be-announced big box store at the corner of U.S. Highway 27 and Cypress Gardens Boulevard.

What fewer residents may be aware of is that the development — named Cypress Landing — is just one of three planned developments for the area, with the other two currently in advanced planning stages.

Collectively, the wave of development near the busy intersection could represent a transformation to Winter Haven’s southwestern entrance.

“We think it will be a great gateway to the City of Winter Haven,” Winter Haven Growth Manage Director Eric Labbe said.

In November, the Winter Haven Planning Commission recommended that the city commission pass ordinance 19-48, regarding the 77 acres at the intersection. A first reading of the ordinance was read in December and, on Jan. 13, the ordinance passed its second reading.

“This is a pretty significant project,” Winter Haven City Manager Mike Herr said.

According to Labbe, the two other large developments may eventually connect with Cypress Landings to its immediate west and south.

Lake Ashton North will be located west of Cypress Landings, east of the Carlton Arms apartment complex and on the south side of Cypress Gardens Boulevard. Zoning for that project was approved in 2018, but no site plan has been submitted to city staff to date. Labbe said Lake Ashton North tentatively involves a 500-unit apartment complex and around 111,000-square-feet of retail space.

The third development, Lake Ashton South, will be located south of Cypress Landings and on the west side of U.S. Highway 27, with an entrance along Thompson Nursery Road and a connection through to Cypress Landings. Once built, the development will have 1,100 housing units, an assisted living facility and some retail space.

Both of the Lake Ashton developments will be built on what appears to be wetlands associated with the Peace Creek, but there has been no objection from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Labbe said the land does not assist with aquifer recharge and that some of the acreage will be reserved for conservation.

A creek running through the property is used for flood protection when water in the north Chain of Lakes gets too high. When that happens, the creek directs water from the Chain of Lakes toward the Peace River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.