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Building after bust: Bella Collina sees million-dollar sales again

Million-dollar houses are selling again in Bella Collina, a Lake County community that became a poster child for the damage a land boom and bust can wreak.

During the recent Orange County Parade of Homes two buyers made full-price offers on a $1.2-million model home built by Phoenix Custom Homes. That hasn't happened for years in the ultra-luxe hilly neighborhood in Montverde.

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In March of this year, a home built during the early boom years also sold in the multi-million-dollar range. The 11,422-square foot lakefront manse built in 2006 at 16635 Arezo Court was bought for $2.238 million in a qualified sale.

A near neighbor of that home, also built in 2006 at 16619 Arezo Court, sold for $2.25 million in an unqualified sale in May 2014, according to the Lake County Property Appraiser's records.

In addition, builders in Bella Collina said they received a lot of interest during the parade in having custom homes built in the community.

"Everybody is real optimistic about what is happening in the future," said Rick Vogel, president of Vogel Building Group. Vogel was one of the original builders in the community at its peak when the community hosted the Street of Dreams in early 2006.

"We are very happy," Vogel continued. "We got good interest from clients for the future. People rediscovered Bella Collina and see it's up and running."

Vogel said new homes in Bella Collina now start at about $700,000 and can rise to the stratosphere from there.

Keith Clarke of Phoenix Custom Building says it is building a home with 23,000 square feet under roof. He also said that lot prices are increasing in value from about $425,000 to $599,000 in the estates section.

Randall Greene, a partner in DCS Capital Investments, which owns the development rights in the community as well as many of the lots, is equally happy about the sales activity. The company spent two years cleaning up the property and finishing some promised amenities, including a swimming pool, gym, and tennis courts at the eye-catching hilltop $100 million clubhouse.

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During those clean-up years DCS laid low, not marketing the property at all until fall of 2014.

"The way I look at this place it hasn't been marketed since '07 or '08," he said.

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