Benge Development Corp. is busy at work in Polk County, building a variety of dwellings to help with the county’s residential growth.
Tony Benge, company president, did not think he would be a developer during his undergraduate or graduate education. According to Mark Wilkie, senior VP of Benge Development, after Tony graduated, he worked in finance, and, along with some investors he met, including his father, he purchased his first master-planned, 1,200-acre development called Eastwood. “The rest is history,” Wilkie said.
The Eastwood purchase – a 2,300-unit golf course community with a Publix-anchored neighborhood center – was the beginning of Benge Development Corp. Since its founding in 1993, Benge has purchased and developed 18 major projects throughout Florida.
“We have a fully integrated approach to development that includes all aspects of the necessary entitlements, site analysis, economic viability study, engineering and full horizontal site improvements,” Wilkie said.
Benge Development Projects
Right the company has five residential projects active in Polk County, Wilkie said. “These projects represent 366 multifamily units, 115 single-family homes and 489 townhomes. They all vary in value to appeal to a wide range of today’s renters and homebuyers. We take great pride in taking a piece of land and developing it into a community that is sustainable and fills the growing need for housing across the entire demographic spectrum of Central Florida.”
Layout Plans for the Traditions Development Project
Like many others, Benge Development knows there’s a need for more housing to support the three-quarters of a million residents, a number that is increasing daily. With more heads in beds, a need for more commercial, retail and industrial sites will follow.
“We see a great need in Polk County for all types of housing and the commercial to support the growing population,” Wilkie said. “We have the experience and the resources to deliver projects on budget and on time for our investors and the community.”
The company’s motto – “Real Property — Real Experience – Real Success” – speaks to its success, some built on relationships forged over decades. “Our team has deep experience and great relationships with a number of municipalities and vendors to execute land entitlement and land-development projects efficiently.”
Wilkie joined Benge Development in 2021 with a wide range of real estate experience in all facets of multifamily investment. “We are in the community-building business,” he said. “We can provide a great place to live for a wide spectrum of people looking for a home. I have developed the resources and talent to do it.”
Each project takes on its own life, and, like other development companies, Wilkie can’t pick a favorite. “They are all special to us. ‘Traditions’ is at the front right now due to our long history with the site, it’s finally breaking ground in the coming months.”
Traditions is a 270-unit multifamily development in Winter Haven. “Tony managed the development of the north half of Traditions on the other side of Thompson Nursery Road,” Wilkie said. “The plan was to do the southern half but the market changed and it was put on hold until we started working with the current owners to develop the site.” Groundbreaking is set for July 2022.
“The development will offer housing alternatives appealing to a broad spectrum of homebuyers and those looking to rent. Its location and layout along Lake Hart will provide a picturesque and tranquil community.”
Wilkie said the company is excited to develop Traditions in Winter Haven. The city is important to Benge because many of its employees grew up there or have family there.
Benge Giving Back
Benge has been involved in the community in a variety of roles for years. “Tony has served in board positions for the YMCA and Junior Achievement for over a decade,” Wilkie said.
In addition, the company supports first-responders and their programs that help the community, such as:
- “Apopka Shop with a Cop,” which has provided Christmas for more than 300 children.
- “Cops and Bobbers” takes children in Apopka fishing to create a role model opportunity for at-risk youth.”
Benge Development is also a major sponsor of Orlando’s annual “Black and White” event. The even raises money for Base Camp – Children’s Cancer Foundation, Wilkie said.