Pulte Homes Orlando division ended one of the busiest years in its history with a flurry of land closings in December totaling $120.5 million in value.
The transactions span four Central Florida counties and include a variety of housing products — everything from age-restricted to resort to primary residential. Division President Clint Ball told GrowthSpotter it wasn’t the plan to push so many of the closings to December, but it happened to work out that way because the homebuilder was waiting for permit approvals on so many of its projects.
“All of those are effectively going to start site development immediately,” Ball said.
The builder continues to bet big on Osceola County, where half of the deals took place, including the largest: $33 million for the final two phases of Tohoqua. Pulte entered the master-planned community in St. Cloud in 2020 with its first 500 lots, divided among a residential neighborhood and an age-restricted community. Mattamy Homes closed out its section in Phase 1, so Lennar and Pulte will complete the build-out of the 785-acre community.
“I think they still have some commercial and neighborhood center stuff in there, but this is the balance of the residential,” Ball said.
The former DRI is entitled for 2,216 homes and townhomes and 1,004 multifamily units, plus 613,000 square feet of commercial uses and 200 hotel rooms. The community is slated to have a new high school, which would be built in Phase 2, and a K-8 school to be built in Phase 3.
Also in Osceola, Pulte executed a $12.4 million takedown for Phase 2 of its Del Webb Sunbridge community, which was launched in 2019. The 55-plus community, the first neighborhood within the 24,000-acre master-planned community, will have 1,400 homes upon completion.
Pulte also was named one of the first five builders in Sunbridge’s Weslyn Park residential neighborhood. The homebuilder paid $202,500 for its model lots in December and expects a major closing this quarter when the phase 1 lots become available.
Other transactions included $300,000 for an expansion of Split Oak Reserve on Cyrils Drive and $6 million for Amelia Groves, a 296-home subdivision at 1501 Pine Grove Rd., just east of Nova Road. The plan includes 34-foot wide rear-entry bungalow lots, 50-foot wide front-loaded lots and 85-foot wide sideloaded corner lots. The plan also allocates 17.5 acres for open space and recreation.
In Orange County, Pulte made a $27.5 million investment in Beachline North Residential LLC to gain control of the first 1,000 lots in Vista Park, a 1,572-acre mixed-use master-planned community just off Lee Vista Boulevard at the Beachline Expressway.
“We will talk to other builders, probably in the beginning, for a small piece, but we intend to build the majority of it ourselves,” Ball said.
Pulte has renamed the community “Everbe” and plans to start construction in the northeast quadrant, accessing it by the Econ Trail. A second access point would be from the west, through the neighboring Vista Lakes community, by an extension of Passaic Parkway. Phase one is divided into three subphases and has a total of 565 homes. The development program calls for 158 townhomes, 139 rear-alley bungalow units. The rest are divided between 50- and 60-foot lots that are 125 feet deep.
The master plan allows for a gated, age-restricted community, but that won’t be included among the first 1,000 lots. “There’s certainly potential for that as the community matures and depending on what the market does, there could be an active adult component in there,” Ball said. “There’s a lot of thought and planning and engagements with planners and marketing firms and everything to make that really truly feel like a master-planned community from a lifestyle standpoint with theming and branding. So I would expect that there’s a lot we’ll ultimately try to do with Everbe over the years.”
The builder also has smaller projects in the pipeline in Apopka, Orlando and Dr. Phillips. Savannah Palms will be a 60-lot subdivision on Lone Palm Road. Ball said Pulte spent about 18 months assembling the property and getting entitlements, and it closed for $2.36 million. “Obviously, anything in the City of Orlando is a great location at this point,” Ball said.
In Apopka, the builder paid $2.34 million for the former Klepzig property, where it will build Winding Meadows, a 175-lot subdivision. “In Apopka, a lot of the places you have, you’re required to do two units to the acre, unless you get in the core, like the Kelly Park Interchange area,” Ball said. “So this is the location where we’re able to do smaller lots, so we have some rear load bungalows and some front load 50 foot lots in here.”
Parkview Preserve will rise on the former Kerina Village property just off the Daryl Carter Parkway. Pulte paid $14 million for the property about a half-mile from its Phillips Grove community, where homes start in the mid $800,000s. Ball said the neighborhood will have all detached homes on multiple lot sizes, which allows for more pricing options.
“On the 60s and 70s, you’ll see a continuation of the Phillips Grove project, in terms of the luxury buyer,” he said. “And then on the 40s and 50s, we’ll have some more affordable product there than we have in Phillips Grove and that we’ve been able to offer in Dr. Phillips in a long time.”
Two additional closings took place in Seminole and Lake counties. In Casselberry, Pulte will build Grayson Square, a 140-unit townhouse community on the former Slovak Garden property. The builder paid $3.7 million for the land and will offer the same 20-foot townhomes now being sold in Somerset Park.
In Lake County, Pulte paid $18.76 million for the former Rubin Groves property on U.S. 27, where it will build a resort community called Windsor Cay. The 248-acre site is just north of Cagan Crossings has PUD zoning with entitlements for up to 1,500 short-term rental residential units.
“It will be a replacement for Windsor Island Resort, where we’re currently operating out of,” Ball said, referring to the project just south of the county line, on Sand Mine Road. Windsor Cay will feature the same floorplans, but some elevations have been updated.
Ball said the plan calls for about 700 units with about a 3:1 ratio of detached vacation homes to townhomes, and all units will have a backyard pool and outdoor kitchen. The community also will feature a large clubhouse with two pools, a lazy river, a splash park and basketball court.
Ball echoed comments from other builders that 2021 marked the busiest sales cycle in his 12 years at Pulte. But he believes the land acquisitions will leave the Orlando division set up to keep pace in 2023 as it works its way through the backlog this year and deal with supply chain disruptions that have extended the average construction time for a new house by two months.
“I think people are figuring out how to operate in this environment, so as the supply chain corrects itself, I think there’s some optimism,” he said. “But everybody’s also operating under the assumption that it doesn’t, so we have to be creative and continue to try to find ways to make it as smooth for the customer as possible.”
Pulte has increased the number of inventory homes in builds in new communities to keep up with demand, but the majority of home sales continue to be contract sales where the buyer picks his own lot, floorplan and options.
“There’s a reason that a lot of people are selling inventory homes right now — it’s because if you come in and buy something that’s done, well, I can tell you when you’re gonna move in. But if you want to design your own home, we’ve had to tell people, you know, expect it to take longer than what it used to take in a market where the supply chain was functioning the way it typically does.”
Pulte still has closings in the pipeline for 2022, as well. Two Orange County projects are being led by Dwight Saathoff’s Project Finance and Development. Pulte submitted plans for a 102-lot townhouse community on 11.3 acres at 7308 Pershing Avenue. The second is “The Grow,” a 1,185-acre master-planned agri-hood community in east Orlando. Ball said the first takedown is scheduled to close in the second half of 2022.