Disney has purchased the BK Ranch, just southeast of Celebration, for $23 million. The BK Ranch is 965 acres, and is entitled for 3,000 homes and 378,000 square feet of commercial and office spaces.
The ranch is located on Old Tampa Highway. It is about a mile west of the Poinciana SunRail station. This was envisioned as a master-planned community that would compete directly with Celebration. The master plan even included plans for a grade school, high school, and parks.
The property has been for sale for over a decade. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by the current owners to get the ranch properly zoned and permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District.
While another Celebration-type development sounds like an interesting proposition, this land most likely will never be developed according to sources. Jerry McGratty, broker/owner of Westhampton Realty, believes that Disney wants the land for water management needs and conservation. He “does not believe they will ever develop it” and that it will “stay in the same pristine shape it has always been in.”
This transaction is very similar as Disney’s 2014 purchase of Mira Lago. This land, located south of Poinciana was also supposed to be developed into a residential complex. Instead, it was used to mitigate impacts to wetlands that came from the growth of theme parks and resorts.
While the purchase of BK Ranch could be seen as a win for those concerned about the environment, it is a bit of a loss for the county. Conservation use won’t bring value to the tax base or any riders to the SunRail.
We will continue to update you on any additional information about this property and Disney’s plans for it.