Classic Florida country estates planned in Winter Garden near Oakland Park

Orlando-based Project Finance & Development has 9 acres under contract in Winter Garden with plans to build the antithesis of a modern subdivision, envisioning instead a handful of classic Florida country estates where trees are preserved, roads are narrow and amenities draw neighbors outside to get their hands dirty together. 

Located south of the intersection of Oakland Avenue and Oakland Park Boulevard, the undeveloped site lies directly south of David Weekley Homes' planned community Oakland Park

The developer should file a Preliminary Development Plan and a Planned Development rezoning application in the next two weeks with the city for what will be 20 lots that range from 0.4 to 0.5 acres each. 

"We came across this property and thought it was just absolutely gorgeous with so many big trees, and Oakland Avenue in front also has these enormous old oak trees," president Dwight Saathoff told GrowthSpotter. "We're having more and more difficult of a time finding lots in high-end areas where our company typically buys and demos structures to build $1 million-plus homes a few times a year.

"So I've been on the lookout for land where we could set up our homebuilding shop and do semi-custom homes in a beautiful setting with a compelling story," he continued. "We think all of that is coming together in Oakland and Winter Garden, so at the same time we said it would be a shame to build the typical standard subdivision. The land is too pretty for that." 

While the property is already zoned for single-family residential, what Saathoff's team will do, working with VHB, Inc. as planner and engineer, is rezone to PD so it can break free of the code boundaries of a standard subdivision.

Saathoff's vision for the property is rooted in the classic long, fenced driveway of an equestrian farm that leads up to a main house and stables. Dubbed "Oakland Hills," the project's entryway could mimic that with a 16-foot-wide paved road instead of the standard 25-foot width. 

Each of the half-acre lots will be customized, with minimum 100-foot widths, setbacks of 15 feet on the front, 7.5 feet on the sides and 20 feet on the rear. PFD's semi-custom homes would meld classic farmhouse architecture with "a heavy emphasis on modern aesthetics," Saathoff said. 

"Our objective is for it to be very much a customized, higher-end, small neighborhood with an equestrian and agricultural theme," he said. 

Thirty-eight or more large mature trees would be preserved on the property, some wrapped by equestrian fencing to reinforce the theme, and low-lying natural swales would manage stormwater runoff instead of man-made ponds. 

Crushed sea shells could be used for walking paths, and open space requirements would be scattered amongst the lots to help houses appear less close to one another. 

A replica farm stand with fire pit could draw neighbors together on weekend nights, and tree tire swings and raised bed vegetable gardens are amenities planned for the spec-built homes and open spaces, Saathoff said. 

PFD's next steps include the rezoning and DP review process by the city, with closing on the land expected in Second Quarter 2018. 

Saathoff's team would work with a future general contractor on their own handful of stock designs, with up to four floor plans and four elevation options likely to be made available. 

PFD would build out a handful of lots at a time on spec. Pricing will be "upper end," though Saathoff declined to specify a range at this time. A real estate brokerage partner has yet to be chosen to market the project.

"We think that Oakland Park (to the north) is a gorgeous place, but we weren't going to replicate that," he said. "We want to appeal to a segment of the market that isn't finding what they're looking for in Oakland Park." 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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