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Park Square Homes closes on land in East Orange, engineering solved mucky sinkhole

Park Square Homes closes on land in East Orange, engineering solved mucky sinkhole
Above is a rendering of a home model that Park Square will be building in its Verona development. (Park Square Homes)

Park Square Homes closed last week on a $2 million purchase of 17.76 acres in East Orange County, a deal more than three years in the making that required some creative engineering around a muck-filled sinkhole.

Located at 1021 S. Dean Road, the undeveloped parcel lies south of Lake Underhill Road amidst a host of single-family subdivisions. Park Square is planning Verona, a 52-lot single-family development with homes priced in the high $200,000s to mid-$300,000s.

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"It's an ideal infill location, within the boundaries of the 417, and close to UCF, its research park and employment centers," president and COO Steve Parker told GrowthSpotter. "Just a good location all around for single family."

The project's Development Plan and Preliminary Subdivision Plan have been approved by Orange County, with mass grading and construction permits currently under review and expected by September.

Parker said road and infrastructure development on the site should start in October, with ground to break on the first homes by April of next year.

Park Square projects total investment in the land, infrastructure and buildout to range from $13 million to $17 million, and gross sales of the homes to total between $17 million and $20 million, Parker said.

The deal could have easily fallen through, as it had on these 17.76 acres four times with separate homebuilders in the past. That's because the land has an old relic sinkhole in its center, filled with 25 feet of muck.

Khaled Hussein, principal and geotechnical engineer with Cedar Engineering Consultants LLC, has been on the job since 2013 for former land owner Salomon Monserrate, representative of the late Corina Costa-Cruz of Puerto Rico.

She died but failed to leave right of survivorship in the will to her son, leading to three years of legal wrangling over the property in probation court, Hussein said. By the time the case closed, he had the land fully engineered, along with civil engineers Avcon Inc.

Where other builders' engineering efforts went wrong in the past was repeated attempts to remove the muck, fill the sink hole and get 95 buildable lots on the parcel. Hussein and Avcon decided to leave the muck, dig an adjacent retention pond and settle on 52 lots, which in a strong housing market will still make the land profitable for any builder.

"That creativity on the muck issue allowed this to work, and Park Square came out a winner," Hussein said. "Right when we got approved by Orange County on our PSP every homebuilder came calling, wanting to buy. But we stuck with Park Square."

Hussein's real estate development affiliate Baveria LLC bought the land from its Puerto Rican owner on July 1, before selling to Park Square for a $750,000 profit.

Park Square has 19 residential development projects currently in varied stages of development or construction in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Polk counties. The developments will deliver 1,496 single-family homes and 483 townhomes to buyers from this Fall through mid-2017, at prices ranging from $180,000 to $550,000.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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