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Park Square Homes President and COO Steve Parker said the developer is in permitting or construction for 20 new communities - about 2,100 residential units - in the Orlando metro area.
Park Square Homes President and COO Steve Parker said the developer is in permitting or construction for 20 new communities - about 2,100 residential units - in the Orlando metro area. (Laura Kinsler)

With more than 2,000 lots across Central Florida currently in pre-development, Orlando-based Park Square Homes is shifting its homebuilding operation away from the vacation home market to focus almost exclusively on primary residential homes.

President and COO Steve Parker told GrowthSpotter the developer now has 20 communities in permitting or early-stage development in Polk, Osceola, Orange and Seminole counties. They range from townhomes priced in the high $100,000s to a boutique community of executive homes starting at $500,000.

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Steve Parker joined Park Square Homes as president and COO in 2015.
Steve Parker joined Park Square Homes as president and COO in 2015. (Park Square Homes)

Parker marks each new community on a large map in his office with a blue sticker. Active communities, where vertical construction is underway, are marked in red.

"Twelve months from today, all of these blue dots will be new sales centers," he said. "We'll have 25 communities open in the Orlando MSA, and we will have almost doubled the size of the company in 24 month's time."

Each red dot on the map is a community where Park Square Homes is actively building and selling new homes. Each blue dot represents a project that is either in permitting or horizontal development stage.
Each red dot on the map is a community where Park Square Homes is actively building and selling new homes. Each blue dot represents a project that is either in permitting or horizontal development stage. (Laura Kinsler)

Established 32 years ago, Park Square Homes built a reputation locally for building high-end vacation homes and resort products. "We've never been known to be a low price-point builder," Parker said. "Our product dictates that we have a higher price because of the extra features we put into the elevations and the interior features that come standard."

Park Square is still active or nearing closeout in resorts such as Reunion, Solterra and Providence, but Parker said it's no longer the focus going forward.

"A lot of the product now is for the primary residential buyer," he said. "Part of that is because of the competition in the vacation home market. Part of it is demand. Four of the 20 communities are targeting townhome buyers with price points in the high $100,000s to the low $200,000s."

He noted that Orlando is the top jobs producer in the state, but those aren't necessarily high-wage jobs. "It's still a service-based economy," Parker said. "It's Millennials entering the market. It's people looking for maintenance-free living. Or they're coming back into the market post-recession."

Nine other communities in Polk and Osceola counties will offer single family homes starting at $200,000 or below. Those include Carlisle Grande and Vista Park on the U.S. 27 corridor and Live Oak Lake, a 331-lot community just east of St. Cloud.

Find out what the Orlando developer has planned in the Four Corners area.

Live Oak Lake, near the intersection of U.S.192 and Narcoossee Road, will feature a large lakefront park and a variety of lot sizes and price points. Park Square bought the 120-acre parcel through a nonprofit affiliate in 2006 -- one of dozens of land purchases the developer made over the last decade. Osceola County is reviewing the final site development plan.

"We still have extensive real estate holdings in Osceola and Polk that aren't in permitting yet," Parker said. "We will bring those to market as the other communities start to build out."

In contrast, the projects north of Orlando, such as Markham Square near Lake Mary and Parkdale in Oviedo, were more recent acquisitions.

"We're still focusing on the south side but expanding north," Parker said.

The homebuilder found two parcels in the north and south parts of the county for its newest projects.

That includes the developer's first project in Apopka: Ambergate. Site work has already started on the 140-unit townhome project and model construction will start in September. Parker said Ambergate will open in January.

A former CEO of Mattamy Homes USA and Morrison Homes, Parker joined Park Square in 2015. He said the developer already had a well-established brand in Orlando, and Parker appreciates that the company offers products for all buyers, from entry level to the executive shopping for a $1 million estate.

In the depths of the recession, when a lot of home builders had to shed their land, Orlando-based Park Square Homes was buying it at discounts. Now, with the real estate market improved, Park Square is busily tapping into to its bargain land.

"Our goal here is to grow Park Square Homes to be one of the larger builders in the Orlando MSA," he said. "I can't think of another builder -- especially one that's privately held -- with 25 communities in this market. As we establish our market here in Orlando, we will look at expanding outside the MSA in the coming years."

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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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