With homebuilders under contract for all of the residential lots, Leaders Investment Group is prepping to start construction in the next 60 days on the massive Preserve at Lake Ashton mixed-use community in Winter Haven.
Led by Lake Wales neurologist Hasan Mousli and Tampa businessman Gus Kaloti, Leaders is developing 468 acres in two areas: Lake Ashton South, which is north of Thompson Nursery Road, east of Coon Lake Road, West of U.S. 27, south of Cypress Gardens Boulevard and Lake Ashton North, which is on Cypress Gardens Parkway, west of U.S. Highway 27. The property is less than five miles from the Legoland theme park. The two projects are separated by Carlton Arms apartments.
Lake Ashton South makes up the bulk of the acreage and will include 479 single-family homes and 65 townhomes in phase 1, Kaloti told GrowthSpotter. And those lots already have builders. D.R. Horton, Avex Homes and Adams Homes have purchase contracts on all the lots, he said. D.R. Horton will control all the lots (228) on the west side of the community. Adams and Avex will buy the lots on the east side.
“There’s so much demand in the area,” Kaloti said. “We’re pleasantly surprised by the amount of demand coming out of this, even in the middle of a pandemic. I’m still getting calls from homebuilders that are looking for more lots.”
Kaloti and Mousli had initially planned to start site work in March or April, but put the project on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
”It was a management decision to pause for a bit to make sure we have all our ducks in the row, no confusion that there is going to be a demand for this,” Kaloti said. “As time goes on, we’re seeing there is demand for this. There is pent up demand for this. … The homebuilders are anxiously awaiting those lots, so we decided to activate things.”
Jim Reinart, vice president of land for Avex Homes, said the company was looking to expand its footprint in Polk County. Avex has 117 lots under contract. “Preserve at Lake Ashton provides an affordable option to customers outside Lakeland and Orlando, with great access to the conveniences and entertainment options along Route 27 and the I-4 corridor,” he said.
Kaloti anticipates delivering the first batch of lots to homebuilders in spring 2021. The homes will be 2,000 to 2500 square feet with amenities in each of the communities – East and West, he said. “It’s very nice middle-class neighborhoods and very nice amenities that go with it.”
Kaloti said Leaders also has a builder under contract for the 65 townhouse lots on the west side of Phase 1, but he declined to name the builder.
For Phase 2, Leaders is in talks with a senior living developer, a storage business, some retail and multi-family home developers, Kaloti said. The PD calls for 49.4 acres of multifamily development on three sites, and more than 175,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. It also includes a 500-bed senior living facility that will incorporate independent living units with separate assisted living and memory care units.
Phase 3, which is Preserve at Lake Ashton North, makes up about 80 acres and is approved for up to 500 multi-family homes and 100,000 square feet of commercial development. That project should get started in 18 to 24 months, he said. Julia Sosa, managing principal of LandQwest Orlando, is marketing the outparcels fronting on Cypress Gardens Boulevard.
Leaders bought the property in December 2016 from Fifth Third Bank for $2.75 million in a distressed sale.
“We bought it at the right price,” Kaloti said, adding that Mousli had had his eye on the land for years and said he wanted to buy it and build on it. “He put all his beliefs into action. “Angel L. Rivera of Leaders Engineering is the engineer of record. Lake Wales’ Will Carson of Carson Consulting is the contractor who will oversee the project, Kaloti said.State, county and city approvals and permits are complete for Preserve at Lake Ashton to move forward
“I personally am more excited on this project than any other project,” said Kaloti, whose firm has projects in four counties right now. “It’s the right piece of property in the right location. WE are just super stoked to get this project started.”
GrowthSpotter Editor Laura Kinsler contributed to this report.