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16Sep

Ground Breaking at Spanish Moss ECO Apartments

From the Highlands-News Sun

By KIM MOODY

September 10, 2022

SEBRING — Highlands County will soon be getting some much needed apartments. The Spanish Moss ECO Apartments officials broke ground on the new project in Spring Lake on Duane Palmer Boulevard on Aug. 26.

According to owner and general contractor Brad Kortbein, the property will consist of four buildings when all is said and done. The apartments will consist of one bedroom, one-and-a-half baths; two bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, and two bedrooms, two baths. The kitchens will have granite counter tops, and washer and dryers are included.

The apartment complex will be pet friendly. Garages will be available and are not included in the rent. Rent will start at $1,900, Kortbein said.

“That’s what we broke ground for was a single 52-unit building right now,” Kortbein said. “But it’s part of a four-building, 208-unit development; there will be a total of four of these buildings that we’re going to build.”

The first phase should take about a year, so hopefully it will be completed by August 2023. They plan on starting a new building very six to eight months. At that rate, it will take “just under three years” to complete the project.

As the name implies, the apartments are what make them more ecologically friendly.

“What we have done is we’ve got several special components,” Kortbein said. “The first is called a structural insulated panel made by a company in Fort Lauderdale. They’re used primarily in the islands in the Bahamas, because they’re made of a magnesium oxide inside and outside surface, and that makes them very, very durable. These are a stay-in-place kind of a thing during a storm event.”

Kortbein said the panels are able to withstand and are certified up to 200 miles per hour winds. The roof will carry 29,000 square feet of solar panels capable of producing 70-80% for total usage.

He also said they are very well insulated, which helps cut down on the electricity bill. Speaking of the electricity bill, it is included in the rent as well as water utilities and high speed fiber optic internet.

“That’s the other thing we do, is not only are we creating all of our power onsite with our solar on the roof, but we’re reducing the demand of the load on the system by putting in these these other products,” Kortbein said. “The exterior finish is a stucco-type finish that’s based on cork. The cork product is special because it reflects more of the energy from the sun than any other natural product does.”

The exterior walls reduce the heat that transfers into the building. Each unit will have mini split air conditioning. The units will be energy efficient.

Kortbein has been working with the county, school board and hospitals, which have “been clamoring for years that they can’t attract people” to work in the county because of housing deficiencies. He said they may even have “master leases” with some of those organizations so they have housing ready for employees.

Kortbein is working on a partnership at Sebring International Golf Resort that “we will pay for a social membership at the resort, so that our people have access to that.”

If a golf membership is desired, the renter would pay for that separately.

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