Residential Property Developments

Perot-owned developer makes Florida entry in DeBary via JV with Reader Communities

Rivington will bring 700 homes within a half-mile of the DeBary SunRail station. It's on the banks of the St. Johns River.

The Orlando developer behind Celebration Town Center and Baldwin Park has joined forces with a Dallas-based subsidiary of the Perot Company to developer master-planned communities throughout the Southeast, starting with a 700-home neighborhood on the banks of the St. Johns River.

Hillwood Communities, founded in 1988 by Ross Perot Jr., and Reader Communities announced the joint venture partnership on Friday.


“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while,” Reader President Dean Barberree said. “We’ve known them through the years, and we feel like we have an alignment in our philosophies, so it was a natural fit for us.”

The Hillwood-Reader JV paid over $10.5 million in November for 295 acres at the southwest corner of Fort Florida and Barwick roads, about a half-mile west of the DeBary Town Center and walking distance to the SunRail station. Reader led the project, called Rivington, through the permitting and recently received approval from the city for a development agreement that includes a trail linking the community to the SunRail station.

Dean Barberree is president of Reader Communities, which announced a joint venture with Texas-based Hillwood, A Perot Company.

Rivington will total approximately 600 single-family homes and 100 townhomes at completion, with resident amenities including a lakeside swim club and central neighborhood green space. Homeowners at Rivington will also be able to enjoy nearby amenities such as River City Nature Park and Gemini Springs Park.

Barberree said the JV has another project under contract in Raleigh and is looking for investment opportunities in the Southeast, with a focus on Florida and the Carolinas.

The developer will build amenities, including this lakeside swim club, and a community trail linking the neighborhood to the DeBary SunRail station.

Reader Communities, founded by Perry Reader as a spin-off of Cosland Communities, will be the general partner and is a minority owner of the JV. Both companies have an expertise in Traditional Neighborhood Design and placemaking.

“They’re a great partner because they do what we do on the a daily basis,” Barberree said. “It’s not just about capital. They really add value to the communities they develop. They have a longer term perspective, with a real focus on building quality communities and quality of execution.”

The first phase of development at Rivington is underway now and will include 300 single-family homes and townhomes by builders Dream Finders Homes, K. Hovnanian Homes and M/I Homes.

The community will feature a mix of conventional and alley-served homes starting in the low $200,000s, with townhomes approximately 1,500 square feet in size and single-family homes ranging up to approximately 3,000 square feet. The homes will be designed with aspects of traditional and contemporary architecture to reflect the heritage and future of the area.

Kimley-Horn is the civil engineer and landscape architect for the project. Steve Costa, principal at NAI Realvest/Charles Wayne Commercial, represented the seller of the land, Empire Cattle, Ltd., on the transaction.

Reader served as both president of The Celebration Company and vice president/general manager of Walt Disney Imagineering. Prior to Celebration, he developed Baldwin Park in Orlando on behalf of Atlantic Gulf Communities and managed the creation of Viera, a 38,000-acre community in east central Florida for A. Duda & Sons.


The firm’s latest project was a 1,000-acre addition to The Villages in Wildwood.

Reader is just one developer capitalizing on the proximity to DeBary’s SunRail station. Integra Land Co. is currently building a 289-unit transit-friendly apartment community within The Junction, a 68-acre mixed-use community on U.S. 17-92.

Barberree said the partners are looking for more opportunities in Florida, primarily in greater Orlando and Tampa, and are actively negotiating for multiple sites. He said they’re looking for projects that can accommodate around 400 units. After year one, they will expand to communities with 1,000 homesites. They’re looking for land that currently has entitlements and zoning in place or the possibility of being rezoned through due diligence.

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