Pulte Homes is under contract for another 304 acres in the Clermont/Lake County Wellness Way area with plans for a neighborhood of 948 detached homes and townhomes plus some commercial. Clermont’s Planning & Zoning Commission has recommended approval of the project that will add major road expansion in the rapidly growing region that borders Orange County.
Land that once held vibrant citrus groves will be part of the Wellness Way Area Plan (WWAP) that envisions mixed-use with flexible land uses and green space and was adopted by Lake County in 2016. Communities are required to have 30% open space, 65% residential and 5% center use. The WWAP covers about 16,000 acres between U.S. 27 and State Road 429, west of the Lake County/Orange County boundary line with McKinney Road running east/west through the middle of the property. Clermont’s staff and advisory board approved language this week that mirrors Lake County to officially adopt the WWAP and land uses that are unique to it.
Pulte is already selling homes in the area within the Ridgeview community and is developing the former Rubin Groves property on U.S. 27, where it will build a resort community called Windsor Cay. The 248-acre site is just north of Cagan Crossings and has PUD zoning with entitlements for up to 1,500 short-term rental residential units.
The Chicone land will add to projects underway by multiple homebuilders, including Lennar, David Weekley Homes, Landsea and Beazer. Clermont planners recommended a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and rezoning to Wellness Way’s Neighborhood District designation. These will require a public hearing and approval by Clermont’s city commission, expected in August.
A site plan by Orlando-based VHB shows Pulte plans 216 20-foot x 121-foot townhomes; 213 units on 40-foot x 123-foot lots; 299 50-foot x 120-foot lots and 220 units on 60 x 120 lots. Pulte also is looking to add up to 75,000 square feet of commercial in the southwest corner of the property, VHB’s Erica Hughes told the Planning and Zoning Commission.
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Developer Jim Karr, who is leading the efforts of several property owners in the area, sees the homes attractive to workers in the area, snowbirds, vacationers, and those looking to move from other parts of Florida. “In our area, all of those are needed,” Karr told GrowthSpotter. Pulte land acquisition vice president, Max Perlman, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Already in the works is Olympus, a 243-acre master-planned community combining sports, wellness, entertainment and residential development. The Olympus development is estimated to create over 5,000 jobs and generate over $1.4 billion in local economic impact during a 10-year period
Just east of Olympus, Lennar Homes will develop 1,850 homes and townhomes along Wellness Way. Pulte also is buying another 840 acres in the Wellness Way area, where it plans to build more than 1,250 homes, mostly age-restricted.
The road expansion is the big draw for Clermont and what Karr is excited about with the Lennar and Pulte projects. Pulte will be required to continue the expansion of Wellness Way from Lennar’s 1,850 single-family homesites to the Orange County line. Lennar must build Hancock Road from Hartwood Marsh south to Wellness Way.
“If it wasn’t providing the road network, this property would have to wait to build that road and come in and do it and it might be never,” Karr said. “Building the road network is really important for the whole area out there.”
Residents in the area shared concerns with city planners about the Pulte build encroaching on the rural life they lead north of it, raising farm animals and having open space for their children to play.
“We aren’t proposing access to the north,” VHB’s Erica Hughes told Clermont planning and zoning commissioners. “Our goal is to be a good neighbor.” The land is being sold by the Chicone family, citrus farmers who “last saw worthwhile citrus output more than 15 years ago due to canker and other disease,” Roger Chapin told GrowthSpotter. Chapin represents the family selling the land, his cousin and one of the landowners, developer Craig Ustler, told GrowthSpotter.
Chapin said closing “is fluid but could be next 12-18 months.”
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