Two developers amass 184 acres in Osceola's Westside after flurry of closings

Two developers now control 184 acres of vacant land in Osceola County's Westside tourism corridor after a flurry of concurrent closing this week totaling more than $10 million.

Illinois homebuilder Eli Steinhardt paid $6.4 million for 104 acres of Wheeler Farms' orange groves, while at the same time divesting of 60 acres he had bought in 2017. 

He sold that acreage to Polk County-based developer Jean Marsan, president of Better Built Homes, and the two jointly purchased the last Wheeler Farms parcel for $2.9 million. 

"In simultaneous closings this week, we sold the 60 acres to Jean Marsan's company," Steinhardt told GrowthSpotter. "At the same time, we both closed on 124 acres of land from Wheeler Farms with Jean's company retaining 20 acres contiguous to the north of his newly acquired 60 acres. My company has acquired the remaining 104 acres for the development of the Eden Gardens project." 

Steinhardt, owner of Skokie-based Steinhardt Builders, told county planners he intends to develop a community called "Eden Gardens" with a mix of residential, office and commercial uses.

He purchased the land through a pair of affiliates. EGR East paid $4.3 million for four parcels totaling 60-plus acres. They are contiguous to the future Westside Boulevard extension and north of (but not contiguous to) the 60 acres Steinhardt bought last year through another affiliate, ESS Ventures.

EGR East sourced a $2.5 million loan from Provident Trust Group, a private family trust managed by Paul Ellis, whose family owns 65 percent of the shares.

EGR West paid $2.1 million for 44 acres adjacent to the existing Four Corners Charter Elementary School. 

Osceola County Commissioners voted on Feb. 19 to rezone that property to Commercial Tourist. In the rezoning application, the Steinhardts said this would be the first phase of Eden Gardens and would have 145 homes, townhomes and condos.

Steinhardt has engaged Skokie-based YMK Architecture + Design Studio, and Harris Civil Engineering is the project engineer.

Harris filed construction documents for Phase 1 (29 acres) in January with the South Florida Water Management District.

Future phases would include commercial space for stores, restaurants and a hotel as well as additional residential units, according to the application.

EGR West borrowed $1.6 million in the form of a balloon mortgage from FIA Capital Partners

The Eden Gardens site is in one of West Osceola's hottest submarkets, just west of Lennar's 800-plus home expansion at ChampionsGate Country Club and south of Mattamy Homes' first vacation home resort, Solara at Westside. 

Marsan, who now controls nearly 80 acres, has been interested in Westside/Bella Citta for a while. Last year he met with Osceola County planners to discuss a possible retirement community on 156 acres immediately south of the land he bought this week.

He submitted a conceptual plan for the site, which would have straddled the future Westside Boulevard, but never had the property under contract.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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