A subdivision intended to provide an alternative to the nearby Villages community is being marketed to homebuilders after gaining approval this week from the Lady Lake town council.
Lake Ella Estates is a 67-acre tract that sits between The Villages and U.S. Highway 441 in northwestern Lake County. It has been approved for 230 home sites, with either 52-foot or 62-foot-wide lots.
Lake Ella LLC, a 50-50 partnership of Frank Cawthon Jr.'s FHC Development and Bob Holston's Holston Development, is offering the subdivision as a primary residence site, retirement community, or a combination of both. It is being marketed as approved, engineered and permitted.
With lots expected to fetch $22,000 apiece, a deal would be worth a potential $5 million.
"We think there's kind of a pent-up demand for unmet housing needs in that part of the world," said Cawthon. He noted that The Villages is selling some 400 units per month and generating 1,200 jobs annually.
Yet the hustle and bustle of The Villages – along with its community development district and homeowner association fees – is not for everyone. "This is an option for a builder to go up there and not necessarily compete with The Villages, but provide a place for the people that work for The Villages or in the many medical offices in that area to live just outside the gates."
Lake Ella LLC bought the property several years ago. It had a preliminary site plan that had expired, so the owners added open space and designed bigger lot sizes. Askey Hughey Inc. of St. Cloud is the civil engineer and land planner.
"I like this plan better, it's got a mixture of the two lot sizes, we clustered the open space as an eight-acre park in the back … I think it's a really nice subdivision," Cawthon said.
He declined to speculate on the size of the homes, but said he expected them to be priced in the low- to mid-$200,000s. The main entry will be along Lake Ella Road near where it meets Taylor Mill Road.
Lake Ella Estates shares a boundary with Green Key Village, a development of solar-powered homes also designed to provide larger lots and a quieter location than the hyperactive lifestyle of the nearby Villages.
Cawthon said the site should be ready for construction in the next 90 days. "There is continued increased demand for primary jobs in The Villages," he said. "Land costs in Orlando and the surrounding areas continue to increase. This gives the national builders an affordable choice to get a 230-lot position."