SEBRING — Last week, Sebring City Council approved preliminary plans to build 243 apartments near the south Publix in Sebring, and Highlands County commissioners voted to allow 50 villas fronting Deer Run golf course at Sun N’ Lake.
The Great Recession isn’t over in Highlands County, but the construction industry is more hopeful these days.
“Investors are feeling secure or they wouldn’t be doing this,” said county Building Official S.Y. Moseley.
Moseley is also feeling more assured. A building inspector is retiring in his office, and for the first time since 2008, Moseley will hire a replacement. Moreover, a second official is in the 2014-15 budget, even though the position isn’t funded yet.
Builder Mark Gose told the city that the apartments — which could eventually number more than 1,000 apartments and single-family homes — are slated on a former golf course east of U.S. 27, adjoining Francis II Mobile Home Park.
Fifty 1,200 square-foot, two-story golf villas at Sunrise Boulevard and Edgewater Drive in Sun N’ Lake are planned to overlook the 18th hole. Construction won’t start this year, district manager Mike Wright said, but the board of supervisors wants to be ready when the demand arises.
Since 2008, the county building department has permitted only 35 multi-unit apartments or duplexes since 2008, statistics show.
“It’s pretty busy right now,” said the golf villa engineer, Roger Dale Polston of Polston Engineering. “Commercial has been better than residential. We’re working on a couple of church projects. We’ve got some rumors and possibilities of other projects, nothing on paper yet, but it’s picked up a little bit. It’s nothing like it was four or five years ago.”
The Highlands County building office lists several permits for businesses in the construction phase:
Bufalucas, a franchise out of Chihuahua, Mexico, to occupy a space in the shopping center on the west US 27 north of Heartland Bowl. The company logo describes itself as alitas and hamburgers — wings and hamburgers. Villa Bella Salon will occupy a space next door.
Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance is locating inside Shelby Crossing, near Gold’s Gym and Marshall’s. Ulta is a chain of 696 beauty superstores from Bolingbrook, Ill., each with its own full-service salon.
The foundation is also going in for Newsom Eye Clinic, 4211 U.S. 27 N., across from Musselman’s Appliances. The three-story establishment will cost about $4 million.
Finally, Avon Park will have its own Dollar Tree in the old Save-A-Lot location on Main at U.S. 27.
And there’s more to come, Moseley said. “Plan reviews are way up and that’s a good sign. That’s the first step in permitting.”