Single-family and apartment plans progress for massive Hills of Minneola

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It has been decades since the fierce 1980s freezes killed Family Dynamics Land Company's 1,840 acres of orange groves in rural Lake County. But in the past two months, the Leesburg family-owned business has taken key steps with developers for the land that takes up a good swath of Minneola.

“I could have sold it a hundred times,” spokesman Peter Strimenos of Family Dynamics told GrowthSpotter.

But he wants more than money for the land. Strimenos hopes to leave a legacy for the family as well, a master-planned community that will stand the test of time. To that end, he went shopping for like-minded developers over the past two years as he worked with Minneola to craft details of the master-planned Hills of Minneola community. 

In mid-January, Family Dynamics sold 126.25 acres on Hancock Road to Hanover Hills LLC, a subsidiary of Hanover Land Company, for more than $6.27 million. Hanover launched a new sister homebuilding company last year, which may or may not be the end-builder of this project. 

Run by the Orosz family, Hanover has a deep history in Central Florida. Led by President Bill Orosz, the company has built and developed more than 20,000 homes in the region.

Hanover applied for permits earlier this month from the St. Johns River Water Management District to build a stormwater management system for 399 homes on 126.25 acres. Its Final Subdivision Plan calls for 273 50-foot lots and 126 70-foot lots. 

"We anticipate breaking ground later this year with the first two (sub)phases of that, which comprises about 75 percent of the land," said Matt Orosz, director with Hanover Land Company. "We think it's a premier location for Minneola, given proximity to the (Florida Turnpike) interchange." 

Directly southwest of Hanover's new footprint, at the corner of Hancock and Fosgate roads, a Skorman Development affiliate paid $3.089 million in January 2017 for about 16 acres, where it is planning the first of two new multifamily phases. 

The first 297-unit phase was granted its SJRWMD permit last June, and has yet to break ground. Strimenos said Monday that Skorman's affiliate closed today on the adjacent 15 acres for a future Phase 2 estimated for 300 units. 

The Hills of Minneola is a fully entitled Planned Unit Development, allowing for 3,971 homes, 890,000 square feet of retail/commercial, 850,000 square feet of office, 1.4 million squre feet of industrial/research park, and two school sites. 

The great home-building recession put development plans on hold, but Strimenos continued to ready the land for development. The key would be a new exit off the Florida Turnpike at Minneola, made possible by a Family Dynamics land donation, which opened in 2017 and literally carved an "X" in the middle of the land.

While waiting for the recession to ebb, Family Dynamics donated about 205 acres for the turnpike exchange, of which the developer will get back 130 acres now that it is complete, according to marketing agent Randy Mason of Re/Max Touchstone.

It donated 63 acres for Minneola High School, another 30 acres possibly for a K-12 charter school, and 65 acres for a park next to the K-12 school, Strimenos said.

In 2015, a Coral Gables-based developer was announced as having the entire project under contract for purchase. But in early 2016 Strimenos and the family brought it back out to market

Now with the economy rebounding Family Dynamics has started selling land. Another developer is in due diligence to purchase a large part of The Hills of Minneola as well, said Strimenos, of which more than 1,200 acres remain. 

Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955 or at Teresaburney4@gmail.comFollow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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