The Tampa-based Eisenhower Property Group (EPG) has purchased 735-acre Little Everglades Farm in Groveland for $20.2 million, with preliminary plans to build a Village concept on the property.
The sale took place in April and a Special Warranty Deed was signed between Little Everglades Farm, LLC and EPG Sunstone Holdings, LLC. The property borders S.R. 19, O’Brien Road and Florida’s Turnpike.
Groveland’s Village designation, which allows for six units per acre, includes three zoning districts. These include a more intense Village Core along with some commercial, a Village Center, with would feature townhomes and cottage homes, and a Village Edge, with single-family detached lots. The Village Edge is where the largest lot sizes can be designated.
Greg Beliveau with LPG Urban & Regional Planning, acting as the applicant on behalf of the seller had previously requested and received approval for a rezoning of the property from Lake County Agriculture to City of Groveland Village after getting approval to annex 74 acres of the property that fell outside of the city limits.
City of Groveland Planner Dewayne Jones said he was made aware of the property sale, but there are not, as of yet, any formal requests to the city related to the development of the farm.
“We have spoken to Michael Rainer, who said his company is interested in developing the project, and if he does come in, it would be for approval of a preliminary plat,” Jones said. “He told me they would be submitting a preliminary plat soon” and plan to stick with the Village concept for the project.
Rainer is the project manager at EPG. The company did not return calls for comment on development plans at Little Everglades Farm.
Homebuilder D. R. Horton had submitted a preliminary plat for 318 residential lots on the farm but then withdrew it from consideration, Jones said. He said Rainer told him D.R. Horton would be the home builder, but a new plat will be submitted. Maury L. Carter & Associates represented the sellers in the transaction.
The village concept fits in with the city’s updated land development code. Community Development Director Tim Maslow said EPG is expected to include all three Village districts in its plan. “The core is closer to S.R. 19 on the east, then it transitions from Village Center to Village Edge.”
Maslow said the city has been in talks with D.R. Horton for about a year regarding this project and the homebuilder will hire a new planner before it submits an official application for development.
This would not be the first village concept constructed in Groveland.
The City Council in 2021 approved a rezoning allowing for the construction of Cypress Bluff, a 163-acre development on Lake Lucy. It will include 56 townhomes, 84 small lots (35 feet), and 246 front-loaded lots in two sizes – 60 feet and 70 feet. The developer designed the project with numerous small parks throughout.
Cypress Bluff’s approved plans also include an amenity center and observation tower on the hilltop where a former mansion stood. Cypress Bluff sits on 163 acres.
Lake David Preserve, near downtown Groveland and the Lake Catherine Blueberry Farm, which Maslow said is, by far, the most interesting plan, have also received approval. “The blueberry farm is a full-out agrarian community plan and very interesting,” he said. The development will include the continued operation of the farm, at least initially.
The Little Everglades Farm buyer, EPG, headed by Jeffrey and Tonya Hills, is the same company that purchased the massive Two Rivers Ranch in Pasco County for $70 million. EPG plans to transform the 3,400-acre ranch in southeastern Pasco County into thousands of new homes and more than 3 million square feet of commercial space. That deal closed in October 2021.
Already, there is a mortgage and security agreement between EPG and D.R. Horton, America’s largest homebuilder. The homebuilder submitted a $4.5 million deposit on the property to EPG.
D.R. Horton has numerous projects in Lake County, including Verandah Park, Avalon Park Tavares, and Timberwalk.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct the sales price.