Meritage Homes is under contract with the City of Ocoee to develop land the municipality had acquired nearly 14 years ago for the purpose of constructing a new police department headquarters building.
The 8.5-acre property sits northeast of the Clarke Road and AD Mims Road intersection, and is part of a larger 12-acre parcel the city paid $3.5 million for in 2006. When the city opted to relocate the police department elsewhere, it was consequentially left with the surplus land.
Over the years, several developers have offered to purchase the property from the city, but plans never made it across the finish line, while plans filed by Meritage Homes are advancing.
According to plans recently filed in the St. Johns River Water Management District, Meritage Homes is looking to develop a 78-lot residential community consisting of two-story connected townhomes. Plans indicate units will be constructed in either four- or six-unit groupings.
The city will extend Ocoee Vista Parkway to wrap around the eastern side of the project, dubbed Prairie Lake.
The site was under contract at least twice before Meritage Homes won rights to purchase the property last March. Those parties, Orlando-based Summit Construction Group and Atlanta-based Beazer Homes, both terminated their contracts.
In 2015, Summit Construction had expressed interest in developing a charter school, and three years later Beazer Homes offered the city $960,000 to develop a 64-unit townhome community.
The Beazer bid was lower than the appraised $1.105 million value the city received through a 2018 appraisal prepared by DeRango, Best & Associates for the 8.5-acre property. The City Commission rejected the deal.
Later that year Meritage Homes submitted an unsolicited offer to purchase the site for $1.1 million.
The land under contract does not include the remaining 3. 5 acres at the immediate Clarke Road and AD Mims Road corner, which would be retained by the city and sold separately for commercial development.
City documents show about $2.6 million remains in bonds used to finance the city’ 2006 land purchase from Silvestri Investments of Florida.
Representatives at Meritage Homes were not immediately available to comment.
The development is one of many happening in Ocoee. The city is currently undergoing a $43 million redevelopment plan set to revitalize its downtown area, and working with family-owned citrus grower Heller Brothers Packing Corporation to help incentivize mixed-use development on roughly 80 acres of land along Florida’s Turnpike.
A nearly 75-acre mixed-use development called Ocoee Village Center is also underway east of SR 429 in northern Ocoee.