City welcomes new construction

OKEECHOBEE — “Okeechobee is starting to be a prominent place to be,” said Okeechobee City Administrator Marcos Montes de Oca. New construction is underway on some projects and planned on others.

He said the Wawa Convenience Store is still on track, and though it seems to be taking longer than normal to be built, nothing is wrong. They are prepping the site, and their build schedule is pushed off a little bit. It was a corporate thing. They have already spent a huge amount of money to relocate the utilities and to develop the site, he said. Now it just falls on a large corporation to decide when to build. It’s still coming. “They just need to wrap up the site development work, and then we wait for the machine to churn it out from corporate America,” he said. “They typically don’t take this long, but there is nothing wrong. You can rest assured, it’s still coming.”

There is also an apartment complex in the works which will be built on property across from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, he said. The property is 20 acres and will be 190 units. They have already rezoned it and gone through council. They have gotten approval from the Technical Review Committee, and district permits are either pending or are already issued.

“We are hoping that construction starts here pretty quick,” he said. “It’s not low income. It’s what we call professional housing, so teachers, firefighters, that level will have a nice place to live.” It is 20 acres that has been sitting vacant in the middle of the city and now is being developed, so he is very excited about it. They have not had any new homes built this month, he said, but there were 15 or 16 built this year in the city.

Murphy’s Oil at Walmart plans to redevelop their building. They want to make their site look nice and keep up with everything going on around the city, so that will be nice too, he said.

He has a couple more projects he is working on that he can’t talk about yet, but they will be coming in soon too.

He is enjoying working with the Economic Development Corporation, and said he and Megan Smith work really well together. There has been some interest in a couple of lots out at the industrial park and he is hoping something will come of that, he said. The Department of Economic Opportunity came in, and he said they are excited about working together and have a couple grants lined up to apply for, so he is happy about that.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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