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The sleepy town of Mascotte is waking up to a residential construction boom

The City of Mascotte in western Lake County could see its population double over the next few years due to explosive new residential development in the pipeline.
The City of Mascotte in western Lake County could see its population double over the next few years due to explosive new residential development in the pipeline. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

One of the smallest cities in Lake County may welcome some of its biggest development plans yet.

There are several large-scale proposed developments over 1,000 acres being viewed by city land planning officials, Mascotte Interim City Manager and Finance Director Dolly Miller told GrowthSpotter.

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Three are in the discussion phase, she said.

Not included in the group is another sizable project closer on the horizon.

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Real estate veteran Chuck Piper is under contract to purchase roughly 1,000 acres in Mascotte where he plans to develop a master-planned community comprising a maximum of 2,800 single-family and multifamily residential dwelling units and a maximum of up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space.

Developer Chuck Piper is under contract to purchase nearly 1,000 acres between C.R. 33 and Villa City Road, north and south of Simon Brown Road.
Developer Chuck Piper is under contract to purchase nearly 1,000 acres between C.R. 33 and Villa City Road, north and south of Simon Brown Road. (City of Mascotte/Lake County Property Appraiser)

A Development Agreement between the City of Mascotte and Piper is currently under review.

The developer is also simultaneously seeking City Council approvals to annex some roughly 10 acres at Simon Brown Road and Villa City Road that will join the large assemblage he has under contract with the Langley family.

Piper declined to comment on plans.

The proposed projects have the potential to expand the city limits and jolt up the city’s population.

Miller said she considers the city a “bedroom community,” as in it’s a place that is primarily residential, rather than commercial or industrial.

“I think people look to Mascotte as a place to live long-term,” she said. “I imagine it has a lot to do with opportunity, people see opportunities here, they see the City Council wants to work with citizens to start to bring more items that have to do with parks and recreation.”

The number of new home building permits in the town of Mascotte has grown 15-fold in the last three years.

Within and around the city are several parks and nature reserves, including Lake David Park, the Lake Catherine Blueberries farm, the Ocala National Forest, the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve and Lake Apopka.

According to the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) the city’s population, as of April, stood at 7,321, up more than 10% from the 2020 population of 6,609. Five years ago, Mascotte’s population was at about 5,515.

BEBR research predicts the city’s population will increase by approximately 12.55% over the next five years. But based on the current growth rate and pending development approvals, it’s likely the population could double over that period.

To help mitigate that growth, the city is embarking on a five-year Capital Improvement Plan that seeks to improve traffic concerns and pedestrian safety. The plan also outlines a budget and source of funds, including grants from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and St. Johns River Water Management District, to help rehabilitate and replace critical city infrastructure.

Miller said the city is also working with developers to help connect to sanitary sewer lines in neighboring jurisdictions.

Incorporated in 1925, the city is bordered by Groveland, Leesburg and Sumter County. Over the past two fiscal years, Mascotte has issued more than 410 permits for single-family homes - a stark contrast to the single permit the city issued in 2010.

“I remember there were a couple of years where we didn’t issue any,” Miller said. “A big fat zero.”

Land planner Alex Stringfellow likes to compare the southern Lake County area to the fast-growing Horizon West community in west Orange County.

“Not unlike Horizon West, Groveland and Mascotte are about a 45-minute drive down Florida’s Turnpike,” he said. “I think growth’s heading that way because its relative adjacency to employment centers, plus Kroger has their distribution center out there.”

He adds he believes Mascotte is growing in unison with Groveland, which is driving different industries to the U.S. 27 commercial corridor.

The commercial real estate firm is seeking to build nearly 1 million square feet of industrial space where Amazon and Kroger recently opened new warehouse facilities.

According to a JLL report, the largest industrial development delivered in Central Florida during the second quarter took place in Groveland, with the opening of the new $125 million, 338,000-square-foot Kroger-Ocado fulfillment center.

Over the summer, Hanover Land Company broke ground on a 425,000-square-foot spec industrial building, called Hanover American Way, just across from the Kroger warehouse.

Both projects are located in the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park, where Amazon opened a roughly 200,000-square-foot last-mile delivery service facility, earlier this year. The park is located near the U.S. 27 intersection at S.R. 19 and about a mile from Florida’s Turnpike.

Stringfellow said he believes the challenge at hand for Mascotte and its growth lies in school capacity, connectivity and transportation.

“There’s a lot of lessons learned in Horizon West they can pull from,” he said. “The city will need to make sure that they plan ahead and address these issues that have come up in greenfield communities elsewhere and make sure they’re ahead of that.”

New residential subdivisions are sprouting up all over the city.

KB Homes is planning to sell more residential units within the Gardens at Lake Jackson Ridge single-family home community in Mascotte.
KB Homes is planning to sell more residential units within the Gardens at Lake Jackson Ridge single-family home community in Mascotte. (KB Homes)

Stanley Martin Homes recently won city approvals on the Sunset Lakes Estates Final Construction Plan, which details a new 134-unit residential subdivision on the northwest corner of Mascotte Empire Road and Pearl Street.

Fred Plummer, the owner of Angler Real Estate & Development Inc., is prepping 73.7 acres between Tuscanooga Road and Douglas Road for a future 190-lot single-family community. Plummer is also looking to annex into the city.

Meanwhile, Bob Harrell and Ralph Singleton are developing a large residential community called Villa Pass. Approved plans call for a 351-home subdivision on Villa City Road.

Flagship Land Group is proposing to develop about 245.55 acres west of the intersection of Smith Road and CR 33. The project, dubbed Heron’s Glen, was introduced to the city years ago but denied after several neighboring residents shared concerns over the density and traffic impacts.

The pushback resulted in years of litigation between the city and the developer, but in March the parties agreed to sign a Development Agreement that details plans to build a mix of 999 single-family homes and multifamily residential dwelling units. No construction has taken place yet.

Park Square Homes' Woodbury community consists of 78 home lots and is located near the Mascotte Civic Center and City Hall buildings.
Park Square Homes' Woodbury community consists of 78 home lots and is located near the Mascotte Civic Center and City Hall buildings. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

KB Homes is also active in Mascotte. Earlier this year, the homebuilder platted the sixth phase of the Gardens at Lake Jackson Ridge single-family home community. The phase adds 75 home lots on 27 acres.

Meanwhile, Park Square Homes is in the middle of building out and selling its Woodbury single-family home community, which moved quickly along the city approval process this year. Homes within the 78-lot subdivision, located near Mascotte’s City Hall at 51 Bluff Lake Rd., range between 1,300 square feet and 1,900 square feet. The single-story structures feature between three to four bedrooms and two to three bathrooms.

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According to Lake County deeds, homes at Woodbury are selling for between roughly $270,000 and $324,350.

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The developer is also seeking to annex more than 300 acres at 21725 C.R. 33 into the city from Groveland. Plans for what the company intends to build have not yet been submitted.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 491-3357, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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