Easement, plat and final site plan approvals mean FedEx will be first Legacy Park development in Southern Grove

PORT ST. LUCIE – In the culmination of an early December Christmas present, the City Council made the final stormwater flowage easement, plat and site plan approvals Jan. 4 that pave the way for the groundbreaking of a $30-plus million FedEx distribution facility in the Southern Grove Jobs Corridor in Tradition.

These approvals were also the fulfillment of the final dream of the patriarch of the St. Louis-based Samsone commercial real estate firm, Anthony F. Sansone, Sr., who died April 27, just three days after making an unannounced trip to Tradition from Palm Beach to visit the site of his company’s planned 298-acre industrial and business park. His personal visit April 24 was even unbeknownst to his four sons who serve as principals of the family firm, just five days after the city’s Government Finance Corporation authorized purchase and sale agreement negotiations with the company for the 298-acre Traditions parcel originally planned to be named Tradition Regional Business Park. One of his four heirs, Nick Sansone, addressed the Board via Zoom during the latest meeting and emphasized why his family decided to change the name to Legacy Park.

“I think everyone at the city is familiar my father visited the site on the 24th of April, and his passing was on the 27th,” he said. “It’s interesting because he didn’t tell us he was driving to the site – he actually had someone drive him – and he had a picture taken of him looking at the site. That’s not something my father often did at 93 years old, but it was apparent that this site was very special to him. Maybe in a way he knew he wasn’t going to be around to see the actual development.”

City Manager Russ Blackburn teed off the prior discussion that evening, describing the final three steps that would pave the way for construction of the FedEx facility on a 22-acre parcel of the 85-acre first phase of Legacy Park.

“Tonight we’ll be asking you for the second reading for the abandonment of a flowage easement, which is placed across the entire parcel,” he said. “You’ll also be doing the preliminary plat and the site plan for Phase 1 of Legacy Park. As the Council is aware, this is the first transfer of property in Legacy Park owned [and] developed by Sansone, and we are very pleased that Federal Express will be building a 235,000 square-foot building on this site.”

The Council members, with Vice-Mayor Shannon Martin absent, then proceeded to unanimously approve the last steps, with only a few minor questions directed toward staff or Sansone representatives. Mayor Gregory Oravec directed a specific question to Senior Planner Bridget Kean, who had provided a brief presentation on both the plat and site plan approvals.

“Does the plat or the site plan or a future site plan contemplate the gateway signage,” the former asked. “I know this project is very important to the Sansone Family, it’s a legacy for the father. In addition to that, we’re all big proponents of branding. So, are we going to have some type of gateway signage into the park?”

“Yes, it will be proposed with future projects,” Ms. Kean answered. “Right now, I can’t speak for exactly what they want to do, but it has been discussed.”

Most of the Board discussion that evening occurred right before the 4-0 vote on the site plan, when Mayor Oravec invited Sansone Industrial Development Director Jeff Greenwalt – who was in the Chambers accompanied by his family – to address the Council. For his part, the latter lauded Mr. Blackburn, Ms. Kean, Community Redevelopment Area Director Wes McCurry and the members of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County for their assistance in making the development journey easier for the company.

“I was telling my wife if we were in New Jersey, this would be four hours and would be a fight,” Mr. Greenwalt said. “I said it’s so great to be here, and I echo what I’ve said many times: The Council’s been fantastic to work with, Mayor, Russ, Wes, Bridget, the whole team. We couldn’t be more pleased about how easy it has been to go through. It’s going to be a great project, but it’s the first of hopefully another three or four that we have in 2021 to come before you.”

“Do you have a timeline?” interjected Councilwoman Jolien Caraballo as she chuckled knowingly that nothing was ready to actually be announced.

“We’re hopeful very soon to come in with the next couple behind it, but again thank you so much for your consideration,” Mr. Greenwalt responded. “It’s just been really an honor to work with you.”

Nick Sansone, in turn, lauded his Industrial Development director for untiring dedication in seeing the fulfillment of his father’s last development dream.

“He has really spearheaded this opportunity for our office, and I can genuinely say we would not be in the place we’re in right now if it weren’t for his efforts,” Mr. Greenwalt beamed. “He demonstrated that again tonight, being on vacation and coming in for the meeting. We at Sansone very much appreciate his commitment to this project and to our company.”

Mr. Sansone also echoed Mr. Greenwalt’s sentiments on the ease of working with Port St. Lucie officials on the project.

“We’ve done a lot of development through the years, and we can honestly say we have never worked with a city more accommodating and easier to work with than you all,” he added. “So, you really should be commended, your entire team. As Jeff mentioned, oftentimes these types of meetings are battles, and with you all, it’s a true partnership.”

Councilwoman Caraballo then asked Mr. Sansone if he’d given any thought yet to the city’s required public art component at the Legacy Park site.

“It almost sounds like it’d be awesome to have a public art component to recognize your father and provide a memory for him of some kind,” she said.

The latter admitted he had indeed considered that due to his father’s apparent affection for the Southern Grove development.

“You know you read my mind a little bit when you all were talking earlier about some type of memorial,” Mr. Sansone said. “I do have some ideas, and I have some pictures that I was thinking about, and I appreciate you bringing it up. Obviously, that’s a family and group decision that I want to talk to my brother Jim, my brother Doug and get Jeff’s input as well, but yes, I think that would be a phenomenal way to honor him.”

Councilwoman Caraballo then honed in on the apparent closeness of the Sansone family group.

“I just think it’s absolutely beautiful the love you guys have as a family and in business,” she said. “It’s such a rarity to actually see that.”

Mayor Oravec agreed.

“You could do a statue of dad right there where he visited the site,” he said. “What a blessing that your dad was able to go out there and we have the picture, and I think that’s a cherished memory for everybody. It’s part of the presentation and it’s part of the record of Port St. Lucie. We appreciate our partnership [and] look forward to closing this deal and the three or four more that Jeff is going to deliver this year in 2021.”

The Council then voted unanimously to approve the site plan for the first phase of Legacy Park.

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