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Extraordinary circumstances prompts developer to close on Apopka infill site in just one week

The 195-lot Springview Woods subdivision in DeBary was developed by Henin Group and is currently being built out by D.R. Horton.
The 195-lot Springview Woods subdivision in DeBary was developed by Henin Group and is currently being built out by D.R. Horton. (Henin Group)

Land deals are known to take time. Between the paperwork, mortgage approvals and due diligence, they can sometimes be prolonged for weeks, maybe months, but the sweet luxury of time for a particular site in Apopka was just not on the table.

To the surprise of of Jerome Henin, a principal at Winter Park-based Henin Group, the company was able to close on a 28-acre infill development site at 1401 and 1433 Votaw Rd. in just a little over one week.

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Henin made an offer on a Friday, signed a contract on Tuesday and closed the deal the following Friday.

The sense of urgency was linked to the declining health of the seller, who was in the end stages of terminal cancer, Henin explained.

Jerome Henin, a native of France, is the founder and owner of several companies involved in real estate development and sales in Europe, Florida and Virginia. His largest Central Florida development is Riviera Bella in DeBary.
Jerome Henin, a native of France, is the founder and owner of several companies involved in real estate development and sales in Europe, Florida and Virginia. His largest Central Florida development is Riviera Bella in DeBary. (Henin Group)

“The deal required that we react quickly, and that’s what we did,” he said. “I know it sounds funny to some people, but I’m sensitive to these kind of matters."

His wife, Elizabeth Henin, an attorney based out of Winter Park, helped close the deal which amounted to $1.25 million for the land. Henin Group paid all cash.

The seller, Claude A. Etty Jr., who went by the name Sonny, passed the day after the paperwork was signed.

Records show the property on Votaw Road, near the Wekiva Reserve, had been in the Etty family for decades.

Jerome Henin said he had pursued the site earlier this year, but was superseded by a national homebuilder who had landed a contract with the seller. Henin did not name who the homebuilder was.

But the deal was being prolonged and not moving forward, he said, so the seller decided to seek another buyer.

“The sense of urgency was linked to his condition.” Henin said. “No one else would do this that quick.”

Henin Group intends to rezone the property to allow for up to 95 lots for single-family development, worth an estimated $40 million at buildout. The subdivision will be designed by Gary Beverly with CDS Engineering of Maitland and will offer three- and four-bedroom homes on 50- by 120-foot lots.

The developer told GrowthSpotter the company will soon send out construction bids and select a national homebuilder to partner with.

Henin said he is considering more than half a dozen offers from other interested homebuilders.

“It’s in a very obvious area, where no doubt everything around is being built with success,” he said. “Recent subdivisions have been selling very well.”

The company is also in the midst of developing a 20-acre townhome community in Sanford, by Lake Monroe. Plans for the subdivision call for 150-unit townhome development with 20-foot-wide lots. Prices are slated to begin in the mid $200,000′s.

One of the bigger projects Henin Group is behind is its 240-acre master-planned Riviera Bella community in DeBary. Henin told GrowthSpotter the community will feature about 700-plus homes, once complete.

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Riviera Bella’s Phase 8 with 140 lots, is being developed by D.R. Horton and has only a few sites remaining, he said. Phase 9 will feature another 153 lots. And in Riviera Bella’s western section, M/I Homes purchased 252 home sites.

This time last year the 240-acre development was predicted be sold out in 2024. “We now predict to be sold out of everything in Riviera Bella by 2022,” Henin said.

In Tavares, Lake County the developer is also finalizing a new single-family home subdivision with 60-foot lots, through a partnership with D.R Horton.

Henin told GrowthSpotter, he hopes to add another thousand-plus-lot residential community to the company’s portfolio once it completes Riviera Bella. He adds, his goal next year is pick up at least three new land development projects around Central Florida.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated Henin Group was working with Park Square Homes on its subdivision in Tavares. The homebuilder is no longer working with Henin Group on the project.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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