Orlando-based Elevation Development has purchased 32 acres just a mile from the new Wekiva Parkway in Mount Dora as its first build-to-rent townhome community.
The company paid $7.65 million last week for the land and procured a loan for $46 million to build the 266-unit townhome project. It expects to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year.
“We already have our zoning in place and are starting the final engineering process,” said Owais Khanani, managing partner for Elevation Development. “The units will be market rate, 1,300-1,500 square feet, all townhomes, with amenities including a clubhouse, pool, walking trails, tot lots and a dog park.”
The project, dubbed “Juniper Village” is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 441 and State Road 46 and will have entrances on 441 and Natoma Boulevard.
“The market we’ve been following has been very intriguing, which persuaded us to do a build-to-rent project,” Khanani said. “Due to the housing crunch, the interest rate increases, and a strong forecast on the rent side, this was appealing.”
Elevation Development purchased the property from a holding partnership and a couple who had a residence on the property, said Jawaad Khanani, development associate for Elevation Development. “It was a former citrus grove.”
The project’s density will be 8.5 units per acre. “We already have our zoning, which is the highest density allowed in Mount Dora and we have entitlements for 558 units, but only plan to use around half of that,” Jawaad Khanani said. “We are going to have two- and three-bedroom units, primarily, and potentially some four-bedroom units. It will mostly be a mix of two- and three-bedroom units.
Elevation Development has not yet decided on a general contractor for the project, which is expected to take about two years from start to finish. However, it has hired Kimley Horn’s Brooks Stickler as the civil engineer and ACI Architecture’s Scott Webber and Larry Adams for the architectural work.
“Previously, we have three apartment buildings under construction, around 1,000 units. Our other projects are master-planned communities, finishing lots for homebuilders, and we also do a lot of commercial and mixed-use projects,” Jawaad Khanani said. “We are all over the region, in all major municipalities in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.”
Lake County has been attractive to homebuilders specializing in the BTR sector. ResiBuilt Florida is seeking approvals for a mixed-use community with 364 detached rental homes on State Road 44 just outside of The Villages. Atlanta-based Quinn Residences partnered with local builder BE Homes of Florida to develop Eleven Oaks, a rental subdivision near Eustis with a mix of detached homes and townhomes.
Elevation Development chose Mount Dora because the Wekiva Parkway will better connect it to Orange County, he said. “This property is just a mile from the exit.”
The Wekiva Parkway, or S.R. 429, is a cooperative effort between the Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority, or CFX, along with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise. According to its website, it will connect to S.R. 47 to complete a beltway around Central Florida “while protecting the natural resources surrounding the Wekiva River,” according to its website.
At this point, he said, it is just a matter of submitting engineering plans to the city for approval.
Florida has been one of the top markets nationally for the expansion of purpose-built rental homes, according to a recent market study from Northmarq. The special report noted that Tampa and Orlando led the state in the development of new BTR communities because of in-migration and job growth.
“At present, there are about 30 significant projects that have been delivered in the past few years totaling nearly 4,500 units throughout the state,” according to the report. “The supply of single-family rental communities will continue to expand in the coming years. There are approximately 20 projects that are under construction throughout the state, with these developments totaling more than 3,000 units. In addition, there are about 20 planned projects that would account for another 3,500 units that could come online throughout the state in the next few years.”
GrowthSpotter editor Laura Kinsler contributed to this report.