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.


Plans have been filed for a $70 million mixed-use project in the Kelly Park area of Apopka, where a swarm of development is in the pipeline.

Why this matters: The area around the interchange of State Road 429and West Kelly Park Road has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, with more to follow, which will create jobs and business opportunities for area contractors, vendors and more. For instance, this new development entering the pipeline is adjacent to a 250-acre development planned by Vero Beach-based Evans Properties.  Orlando-based Benge Development Corp. is the developer and applicant behind plans for a mixed-use project at 3951 W. Kelly Park Road Tony Benge, president of Benge Development, told Orlando Business Journal he’s under contract to buy roughly 16 acres from owner Ward Family Partners Ltd., though he declined to disclose the sales price. The deal should close early next year, he added.  The intent is to develop 300 garden-style apartments behind two commercial outparcels on the property fronting West Kelly Park Road. Benge is working with GAI Consultants Inc. on land planning and he estimates the project’s total cost at about $70 million.

Benge’s group is seeking a rezoning with the city of Apopka that would change the property’s zoning designation from “transitional”— a low-density designation given to lands annexed into the city —to “Kelly Park Interchange District Mixed-Use.” Once the project gets through the municipal process with the city of Apopka — which Benge complimented for being “great to work with” — he said it’ll be off to the races to get dirt turning. “Everybody is going as fast as they can. About mid-next year, it should be rolling. “The Benge Development project will rise just across West Kelly Park Road from a 250-acre project being developed by Kelly Park VB Development LLC, an entity related to Vero Beach-based Evans Properties. That project will have 2,931 apartment homes and 2.9million square feet of commercial space.

Benge’s group also is involved in the under-construction Floridian Town Center, a $500 million-plus project near the intersection of State Road 429 and U.S. 441. He previously called Apopka “a quiet boom town “for its massive potential. However, it may not be so quiet anymore, as more developers eye projects in the northwest Orange suburb. Frank Silverman, a managing partner for Vision Development, who is not involved with the project, previously told OBJ the new development in the municipality makes it attractive for more projects. “Apopka has grown by leaps and bounds.”

Meanwhile, Benge Development’s future apartments would be built in the Northwest Orlando multifamily submarket, which had 672multifamily units delivered in the past 12 months and has an additional 4,153 under construction — second-highest among metro Orlando submarkets, according to CoStar Group. The submarket’s average monthly apartment rent is $1,654, and its average vacancy rate is 5.1%, compared to the Orlando metro’s averages of $1,786 and 6.1%. Sign up here for our free morning and afternoon daily newsletters. And be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Benge Development continues to support Shop with a Cop in Apopka.  Each year Benge helps to raise funds to purchase toys for Apopka kids at Christmas.  They shop for toys with an Apopka police officer for a day of fun, and getting to know Apopka police officers on a personal level.  Since its inception Benge Development has helped raise just over $10,000 for this worthy cause.

Benge Development Corporation is negotiating terms to take over a small piece of city-owned property in downtown Apopka in order to build multifamily housing and a community plaza for events and food trucks.

The vacant land, totaling a little more than three acres, sits along a railroad track at the intersection of Station and 5th Streets, a few blocks west of City Hall.

The city has owned the property since 2013, but Apopka officials have recently been exploring offers from developers, hoping to see ideas aimed at bringing foot traffic to this section of downtown. The city solicited bids for the land earlier this year.

The city has owned this property along Station Street since 2013, but Apopka officials have recently been exploring offers from developers, hoping to see ideas aimed at bringing foot traffic to this section of downtown. The city solicited bids for the land earlier this year. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

“The whole idea was to be able to get some density in there,” said James Hitt, the city’s community development director. “We want to give people things to do in the downtown area versus having to go somewhere else. The concentration is getting people coming downtown, and living downtown.”

Hitt said he envisioned the Station Street property being transformed into a park that can host food trucks and events such as farmer’s markets or live music. But it also, he added, has room for roughly 50 multifamily units overlooking the event square.

During the solicitation process, only the bid from Benge Development came in.

“It’s a very challenging piece,” said Tony Benge, the company’s president. “It’s just a very difficult one because it’s too small to really do anything of scale on. And you have uses that they (the city) want to see as far as what can become a catalyst for bringing more growth activity downtown, which we whole-heartedly embrace. But it’s just a very odd-shaped piece, relatively small, with a lot of constraints on it.”

The proposal by Benge falls in line with what city planners are looking for.

“We want to make this something very special,” Benge added. “We want to create a destination in town and bring a lot life into this downtown area. Our goal is to see all of Apopka thrive.”

Site plans submitted to the city as part of the bid proposal show two residential buildings totaling 24,000 square feet a piece in the center of the property with 24 units each. On one side of the buildings is a surface parking lot with 140 spaces. On the other is an open-air 52,275-square-foot plaza with a pavilion, lawn, and food truck staging area surrounded by trees.

Benge said he wants the 48 market-rate apartment units to target employees such as teachers and first responders.

The plan ultimately needs approval from the city commission before Benge can acquire the property. While some commissioners have stated a desire to see retail space on the property, HItt said there are plenty of other places in the city for that use.

He’s hopeful it’s given the nod to move forward. “Otherwise the property is just going to sit there for another five or 10 years.”

Benge Development has been bullish on Apopka.

Benge and The Collier Companies did the early site work for the Floridian Town Center, a mixed-use project spanning 75 acres underway in the city’s bustling Kelly Park District along State Road 429.

In April, the joint venture sold the land on the northwest corner of S.R. 429 and S.R. 441. to Birmingham-based Home Communities for roughly $23 million, according to Orange County deed records.

Home Communities is building out the project, consisting of 300 multifamily units, an assisted living facility with up to 180 units, a 120-room hotel, and more than 200,000 square feet of commercial space.

Nearby, along the northside of U.S. 441, Benge is planning to build a 324-unit apartment community with six commercial outparcels.

Benge is seeking approval for a project called Floridian North at the corner of Hermit Smith Road and Yothers Road with 78 detached single-family homes and 132 townhome units.

Benge is seeking approval for a project called Floridian North at the corner of Hermit Smith Road and Yothers Road with 78 detached single-family homes and 132 townhome units. (Site plans by Stringfellow Planning & Design)

And recently, the developer submitted an application to the city to rezone 16 acres of land along W. Kelly Park Road from a low-density designation to allow for a 300-unit apartment community.