Westlake Council Approves Plan For 90-Acre Soccer Training Academy

The master plan for the International Sports Training Facility (ISTF) of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road at the southern end of Westlake.

The Westlake City Council approved the initial phases of a master plan and site plan Monday, Oct. 28 for an international soccer school on 91.53 acres at the southern end of the community.

The council also approved a second 7-Eleven convenience store on the west side of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road south of Persimmon Blvd. West.

The council, sitting as the local planning agency, heard details on the plans for the International Sports Training Facility (ISTF), a cutting-edge international prep school proposed by Coral Springs-based Contraria Development and SOCR Ventures II. The plans were approved at the regular council meeting immediately after the LPA meeting.

The planned facility is located on the east side of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road at Waters Edge Drive in the far southern portion of Westlake just north of Sycamore Drive.

Westlake Planning Consultant Nilsa Zacarias said the applicant is asking for approval of elementary and secondary schools, dormitories, medical facilities, seven soccer fields and a glass-enclosed observation deck.

Zacharias added that the application meets all conditions of the city’s comprehensive plan and land use development codes. She said the site is divided into seven parcels. The first proposes 48,800 square feet of office and medical space. The second proposes a 500-student elementary school. The third proposes training facilities. The fourth would have outdoor recreational facilities. The fifth proposes an 800-student high school and dormitory. Parcels six and seven are open space and recreation, including tennis courts and other sports facilities.

The plan includes seven soccer fields, parking, storage, restrooms, training areas and a future covered soccer field, as well as professional offices, the elementary and high schools, dormitories and an administrative area. The entrance will be from Waters Edge Drive.

Planner Donaldson Hearing, representing Contraria Development, said the facility will be a significant addition to the City of Westlake. It will share parking and other facilities with the proposed Christ Fellowship Church site, which will be before the council on Dec. 9 for consideration.

Hearing said the secondary school will include curricula such as performing arts, music, International Baccalaureate and special education for students with learning issues. The training center will invite international-caliber players to participate in games and interact with the students.

He said Contraria plans to have the first phases open by next summer. Full operations are expected to be underway by the fall of 2021.

“That’s not far away, so they’re going fairly fast,” Hearing said, adding that the first two soccer fields will probably have artificial turf. “That’s important because of the amount of play that goes on, you’re able to extend the use of the field.”

He explained that one of the soccer fields will be covered but not enclosed to permit play during inclement weather. There will be a multimodal path along the east side of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and a lake along the southern boundary.

“The soccer center will be light and airy with a lot of use of glass, very simple, clean forms and this will be in the center of the fields,” Hearing said. “The upper area on the second floor will be for observation. The office is all about training and making stellar and exceptional athletes out of the students attending the facility.”

Although not in the phase before the council for approval that evening, the 800-student, 180,000-square-foot upper school is planned to be one of the top magnet schools in the world focusing on sports but embracing the arts.

“Think of this as Dreyfoos on steroids but focusing on sports and athletics,” Hearing said. “We will bring people from all over the world, as well as address our local needs.”

The 55,000-square-foot lower school will accommodate 500 students.

The first 24,000 square feet of the 48,000-square-foot medical and office space was in the first phase for approval that evening.

“The medical piece ties into the training element with support services for the intensity of training that will go on for sports at this caliber of training,” Hearing said. “You’ll see much more detail as this begins to come before you.”

The dormitories in parcel five will house 636 students.

David Shaggy, president of Contraria Development, said the goal of the ISTF is to develop student-athletes.

“Every place in the world that you go to, education is at the forefront, so what we’re trying to develop here is something that is truly special,” Shaggy said. “The students who come into the facility, everyone has to focus on their education. We can’t go through life without an education. Most places around the world, many go to a professional level, and a lot of these students do not go through an education. They go into a program and forego their education so they can become a professional athlete. In our facility, that’s not what we’re looking for.”

He said the curriculum will be broad enough to offer something for every student.

At its regular meeting, the council approved resolutions for the ISTF master plan and site plan with no objections.

In other business, the council approved an application for a second 7-Eleven convenience store, gas station and car wash on the west side of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road south of Persimmon Blvd.

The proposal came from the same applicant as the previous 7-Eleven approved several months ago on the east side of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road in front of Seminole Ridge High School.

“These are some of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to the commercial uses that are coming along the corridor,” Hearing said, explaining that the developer was looking for approval of the entire Pod H, which will have other commercial uses as well.

The 7-Eleven will be set back away from Seminole Pratt Whitney Road in Pod H along with other commercial uses that have not yet been approved.

“This will bring some good taxable income to the City of Westlake, so 7-Eleven will have a facility on both sides of the street to have a better control of the marketplace,” he said, adding that the store will have an 80-foot landscaped buffer between Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and will have a markedly different architectural scheme than the previously approved store.

“We didn’t want the two facilities to be exactly the same,” Hearing said. “We expressed to them where the facility on the east side of the road is a little bit more traditional, we asked them to look at a more contemporary, international style, which is consistent with what Minto has established. They fully obliged with our request.”

The council approved the 7-Eleven application, as well as the overall plat for Pod H with no objections.