Major homebuilders are finding south-central Orange County appealing, with D.R. Horton the latest to step in by paying $4.2 million to buy a 45.61-acre parcel along Ward Road, just a few hundred yards north of Boggy Creek Road and the Osceola County border.
The purchase, made Oct. 15 from the Robert J. Bishop family trust, was preceded by KB Home buying a 40-acre stake last year directly east of the D.R. Horton property, and Lennar Homes continuing to build out its Wyndham Lakes Estates subdivision just to the west.
As areas closer to Orlando build out, homebuilders are having to cast their nets wider to come up with large vacant parcels. South-central Orange County, butting up against Osceola County, has fit the bill.
Between the homes currently available in the area and those that will likely follow, the development stands to draw quite a bit of commerce, brokers say.
"Typically you find retail following rooftops," said Jeff Sweeney, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield. "And three big homebuilders being out there validates the market."
Sweeney sees local retail — stores in the 15,000-square-foot range — followed by grocery store-anchored shopping centers, and then "power centers" of 200,000 square feet or more.
The retail and services growth will depend on how fast the builders put up homes, Sweeney said.
"If the homebuilders are building in south-central Orange County, retail is not far behind," added Michael Sweeney, associate, office and retail services at Colliers International. (Michael Sweeney and Jeff Sweeney are brothers.)
The properties lie just south of Orlando International Airport and just above the line that separates Orange County from Osceola County.
D.R. Horton's property is located at 14850 Ward Rd., and currently consists of undeveloped orange groves. The property has direct access on the east to Ward Road, which connects to Boggy Creek Road in Osceola County just a few hundred yards south.
KB Homes bought its 40 acres in April 2014 for $4.8 million, with the property situated just east of D.R. Horton's land.
Lennar's Wyndham Lakes Estates is on the other side of the D.R. Horton property and has been building based on demand for a number of years, local realtors said.