D.R. Horton under contract to buy 550-lot resort subdivision in Haines City

National homebuilder D.R. Horton has a purchase contract for 186 acres just west of Polk County's Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center.

Haines City Commissioners have approved revisions to a Developers Agreement (DA) for Lake Charles Resort, a proposed 550-lot vacation home resort community on Massee Road. 

The current owner, an affiliate of California-based investor Neil Richardson, requested to transfer his development rights and obligations to D.R. Horton upon the sale of the property.

Richard Greenwood, development services director for Haines City, told GrowthSpotter the council vote only addressed utility and transportation off-site improvements. 

The project was approved in 2017 as a short-term rental resort community to be built in two phases. The DA specified that the resort would be gated and would include a clubhouse, swimming pools and a number of recreation on-site amenities, including a fishing dock located on Lake St. Charles.

The Preliminary Subdivision Plan also showed a resort-style pool with cabanas and a water slide, as well as a sports field and tennis court and a small park within the community.

Officials with D.R. Horton told GrowthSpotter the subdivision would be developed for primary residential use -- not for short term rental. The property is less than a mile from Horton's Bella Nova, a 224-lot subdivision across U.S. 27 on Holly Hill Road.

Of the builder's 25 active communities in Polk County, only Solterra Resort offers vacation homes. 

Richardson's Lake Charles Resort LLC paid $4.85 million in February 2016 for the 186-acre assemblage. The purchase occurred at roughly the same time Richardson left his position as director of development for PDC Capital Group. 

Richardson had led the investment firm's efforts to expand its Summerplace assisted living home portfolio to Florida, landing deals in Kissimmee, Orlando, Winter Haven and Sarasota. None of those facilities ever came to fruition, though the company did buy the Kissimmee property in January 2016. 

Later that year the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against PDC Capital and its founder, accusing the firm of diverting nearly $10 million of EB-5 funds from Chinese investors for personal use. Among the allegations, the company officers bought a yacht and luxury sports car instead of building restaurants and assisted living homes.

A federal judge placed PDC Capital's assets in receivership, and the receiver has sold several of the California Summerville sites.

The receiver has also sought to seize Richardson's personal assets and those of his family, but the Lake Charles Resort property was not included in the list of assets cited in legal documents.

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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