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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 3 years ago

Site additions coming to Core Golf Academy

Core Golf Academy is set to undergo a huge expansion, including three residence halls and a 100,000-square-foot academic facility.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

HORIZON WEST  Pending building-permit approvals, Horizon West soon will be home to a new site plan for Core Golf Academy, which includes some housing for Windermere Preparatory School students.

Tom Jackson, founder of Core Golf Academy at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, said Core Real Estate purchased 23 acres — north of Old YMCA Road and west of Avalon Road, across from the golf center — in September 2014 and plans are in place to build student residence halls and a private academic facility. 

The company went through 2015 with the process of getting entitled, and in December, Orange County commissioners voted unanimously to change the zoning on the parcel of land and permit construction. The goal is to eventually build the three planned residence halls in phases, with the first phase to host about 194 student beds, a kitchen and a dining hall. If all goes well, Jackson hopes to break ground on Phase One this summer and open it in August 2017. 

The other two buildings will host about 220 student beds each. In addition, plans include a 100,000-square-foot academic facility. The remaining phases in the site plan will be built as demand warrants. No specific timeline has been set for groundbreaking on them yet.

The expansion comes down to the housing of Core Golf Academy’s current students, Jackson said. Core Golf is a full-time junior residential academy that boards junior golfers and connects them with their academic partners, Windermere Preparatory School in Windermere and Central Florida Preparatory School in Gotha. Aside from these academics, the golfers are trained in the game with the goal of attaining a golf scholarship at U.S. universities. Currently, Core Golf serves about 51 students from 20 different countries.

The new Core Golf Academy site plan.

“We are prepping these students for college, and this new building will have a college dorm residence feel to it,” Jackson said.

In addition to the expansion, Core Golf Academy and Core Real Estate is set to partner with Windermere Prep for student residency. Both Core Golf and Windermere Prep have had issues with finding adequate space for student housing, and Jackson said this will solve them. The partnership will allow Windermere Prep to lease a certain number of the total beds in the first phase.

“It becomes much more efficient, as well as a better atmosphere, when they’re under one roof,” Jackson said. “They’ve (Windermere Prep) been looking and have gone down two or three different roads to find a residence answer, and this is it. To have everyone under one roof to mix and mingle and provide more space for these kids to live in will be much better.”

Windermere Prep will not have any financial ownership, Jackson said, but rather will act as a tenant that will have the majority of the space in Phase One.

The first phase, which will take about a year to build, will cost about $16 million, Jackson said. Construction of the entire site will be somewhere between $60 million and $70 million.

The next step is to obtain building permits, which will be applied for as soon as final architecture plans, studies and other technicalities are submitted. After building permits are granted, construction can move forward.

And because the location is still relatively undeveloped, Jackson said they’ve really had no comments from neighbors. 

“We’re fortunate that where we are does not yet have a whole lot around us,” Jackson said. “Neighbor-wise, we haven’t gotten any response negatively to it, and the county commissioners had unanimous support for it. They love what we’re doing, it fit into the official plan, they love the economic development and everything academic or sports related. They’re all for it.”

Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].

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