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Dubai firm announces $1.6B joint venture development plan in Lake County

The parcels highlighted in red comprise the Journey Circle M Ranch in Leesburg. The 1,356-acre ranch is reportedly under contract.
The parcels highlighted in red comprise the Journey Circle M Ranch in Leesburg. The 1,356-acre ranch is reportedly under contract. (Lake County Property Appraiser)

Ayana Holding, a fully-integrated real estate development firm based in Dubai, has entered into a joint venture with Orlando-based Marsan Real Estate Group to develop a 1,800-acre master-planned retirement community in Lake County, about 40 minutes outside of Orlando, with an estimated value of $1.6 billion.

Located a few miles from The Villages, BellaViva at Whispering Hills would comprise 5,500 homes with a mix of retail and commercial development. The conceptual master plan calls for golf courses, restaurants, shopping malls, a medical clinic, boutique hotel, spa, hospital and equestrian center, according to the JV partners.

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Leesburg City Manager Al Minner told GrowthSpotter representatives of the Marsan Group have had three meetings with city staff to discuss the project, and they submitted a very informal proposal which was returned to the developer for completion. “It really wasn’t at a stage to where we could even process it,” Minner said.

The city of Leesburg provided this map approximating the area of the proposed development. The circle overlaps Journey Circle M Ranch.
The city of Leesburg provided this map approximating the area of the proposed development. The circle overlaps Journey Circle M Ranch. (City of Leesburg)

“It has a great potential to be a great project, be great for Leesburg,” Minner added. “It’s just really in its infancy, so hopefully it continues to move forward.”

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The site is east of U.S. 27 and north of Dewey Robbins Road. The bulk of the property, 1,356 acres, constitutes the Journey Circle M Ranch, which is currently under contract with the $20.3 million list price, according to National Land Realty.

“It is pretty big,” Minner said. “Right now, we think it’s somewhere around 1,200 acres in Leesburg city limits, it’s multi-use. They talked golf course, they talked senior or age-restricted. They talked multifamily, equestrian centers, also getting in some commercial. So their proposal sounds really awesome.”

Ayana is a global real estate conglomerate with multiple cross-disciplinary divisions and subsidiaries, many of which would be directly involved in the BellaViva project. CEO Hamid Kerayechian told media outlets that Ayana’s VX Studio would handle the design and master planning with further involvement from Brand Capital Creative Agency working on all marketing and creative initiatives. Ayana Properties will take the lead in international sales using its Xplor digital technology and Ayana Capital investment platform.

Marsan’s Polk County-based Better Built Homes has two other BellaViva-branded neighborhoods currently in development: BellaViva at Little Lake Hamilton is a 349-lot gated retirement community in Haines City; BellaViva at Harmony on the Osceola-Polk county line is seeking permits for 270 homes. It was recently renamed Westside Hills.

The partnership will allow Ayana to establish its presence in North America and help Marsan to expand into a wider market, the companies said in a statement.

Marsan and Kerayechian declined to speak with GrowthSpotter for this article. The listing agent for Journey Circle M Ranch also declined to comment.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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