The acquisition is part of a strategy by Meritage to expand its footprint in Osceola County, Marketing Manager Polly Heard told GrowthSpotter.
While Meritage has more than 20 communities in active development across Central Florida, the builder's offerings in Osceola County until now were limited to a single community.
Bob Glantz, senior vice president of Harmony master developer Starwood Land Ventures, said he's worked with Meritage before and felt it was a natural fit for the certified green community.
"Obviously, in the homebuilding business everybody knows each other," he said. "We just thought they'd be a good fit. They build a nice home, and they're eco-friendly."
Meritage includes energy-efficient upgrades, such as spray-foam insulation and weather-sensitive irrigation systems, as standard features in all new homes. It's also the first local builder to offer solar panels as an upgrade in all its communities, and is even building an all-solar community in Orange County. Meritage will offer multiple floorplans on the traditional 50-foot lots.
Heard said Meritage was drawn to Harmony because of the quality schools, golf course and focus on the natural surroundings. "It is an environmentally friendly community that will complement our position as the leader in energy efficiency," she added.
They especially like the tunnel under U.S. 192 that allows safe access to Harmony High School from the community.
Heard said the builder expects to start construction within weeks on a furnished model/sale center. Home prices will start in the high $200s.
"We will offer a mix of some of our popular plans offered in Nova Grove, our community off Narcoosee Road, and a few plans that will be new to Osceola County," she said.
The builder joins Lennar, Richmond American Homes and Regatta Construction in the first phase of the 11,000-acre community. In addition, CalAtlantic is developing an active adult community just north of the Meritage neighborhood.
Harmony was originally approved as a DRI in 1992 and was entitled for up to 7,200 single-family and multifamily homes, as well as a mix of commercial, office and light industrial uses. Located on U.S. 192 southeast of St. Cloud, Harmony includes two private lakes and features its own golf course and town center.
Glantz said Starwood expects to run out of lots -- except for the active adult -- in Harmony Main by the end of the year. The developer will start construction this month on the first phase of Harmony West, which includes 432 single family homes and 104 townhomes on the west side of Buck Lake. The first lots will be delivered in early 2018, and SVL is in active negotiations with multiple builders.
Starwood also recently filed a Preliminary Subdivision Plan for Phase 2 of Harmony West, comprising 145 townhomes and roughly 800 single family homes to be constructed over six sub-phases.