A fortuitous choice in 2004 led to Pulte being a significant force at Lake Nona, and the homebuilder isn't done yet.
Pulte, a little over a decade ago, bought 490 acres next to Lake Nona Golf and Country Club for $34 million from a subsidiary of Tavistock, the area's prime developer, before anything like Medical City was planned and without knowing Tavistock's grand plans for the area.
"We saw this as an up and coming corridor," said Clint Ball, Pulte vice president of land for the north Florida region.
Pulte began building VillageWalk at Lake Nona, a 1,300 home project with residences ranging from 1,500 square feet to over 4,000 square feet, but was caught short by the recession and work slowed.
Construction picked up in 2012 as the housing market recovered, and now all homes are sold except for about 50. Home prices range from the mid $200,000s to over $500,000.
Pulte in December of 2013 also turned to a subsidiary of Tavistock and paid $14 million to develop the 144 unit, 70-acre Enclave at VillageWalk. Prices in the more upscale community, which just started construction, range from the $600,000s to more than $1 million. By that time Medical City had been announced and "and we knew that we would be targeting an executive level buyer," Ball said.
Playing off its proximity to Lake Nona, Pulte in the summer of 2014 broke ground for its third project in the area, Lakeshore at Narcoossee, a community just over the Orange County border in Osceola County. The development is made up of roughly 200 single family homes, whose prices range from mid $200,000s to the high $300,000s, and just over 200 townhouses priced at $199,000 to $210,000.
The homebuilder sees more opportunity on the horizon. "We will opportunistically look for more purchases in the Lake Nona area," Ball said. "We serve virtually all price points and as one community closes out, we would look to replace that price level."
But the challenge is finding more large tracts of land that are close to Lake Nona, with Pulte already having gone south into Osceola to get a decent sized parcel. The company's hope is that homebuilding will migrate into Osceola as employment grows around Lake Nona and Medical City, Ball said, and more developments can get under way.
"We see incredible growth in that corridor," Ball said.
Of all the development that Pulte and other home builders are engaging in around Lake Nona, "There is clearly a market for it," Ball said. "There are great employment centers in Orlando and the medical community right there. If businesses are thriving there is obviously a need for housing for all those people they are hiring."