Sun Terra buys Hills of Minneola for $70M+, plans construction this year

Oviedo-based developer Sun Terra Communities paid $70.8 million last week for the balance of The Hills of Minneola, an approved Planned Unit Development in Lake County that's entitled for nearly 4,000 homes.

The property straddles all four corners of the Minneola - Florida Turnpike interchange that opened in 2017. Sun Terra acquired everything on the master plan that had not already been been donated or sold -- roughly 1,200 acres. 

"We are purchasing all the commercial and residential," Sun Terra Principal Richard Jerman told GrowthSpotter on Friday. "We do not have any immediate announcements relating to the commercial development and are not ready to announce any builders."

Included in the purchase are 3,177 of the original 3,971 residential entitlements, plus 890,000 square feet of retail/commercial, 850,000 square feet of office, 1.4 million square feet of industrial/research park, and a future K-8 school site.

With backing from private equity firm JEN Partners of New York, Sun Terra has been involved in some of the largest land acquisitions in the Orlando market in recent years. That includes the former San Pedro Center land in Seminole County (acquired in 2016 for $26.7 million) and Osceola County's Harmony community (bought in 2017 for $24.25 million.)

Sun Terra entered the Hills of Minneola picture after discussions broke down between the seller, Family Dynamics Land Company, and Coral-Gables-based SouthStar Development Partners in 2016.

In the meantime, Family Dynamics sold 126 acres on Hancock Road to a subsidiary of Hanover Land Company for $6.27 million in January. Hanover is building Ardmore Reserve, a 399-lot subdivision, through its Hanover Family Builders homebuilding division.

Directly southwest of Hanover's new footprint, at the corner of Hancock and Fosgate roads, Skorman Development will build two apartment complexes, each with approximately 300 units.

Sun Terra has already begun plotting a new subdivision next to Ardmore Reserve and two even larger ones on Hancock Road, east of the interchange. The new concept plan shifts all of the industrial and research park uses to the 169 acres on the northwest quadrant of the interchange.

It also relocates the K-8 school site closer to the center of the development, where it would be linked to a large regional park and a community park. 

The proposed 56-acre hospital site would also be shifted slightly, to the northeast corner of the interchange.

The southwest quadrant includes a 19-acre commercial site where Sun Terra hopes to develop a grocery-anchored retail plaza. Next to that is the 79-acre town center parcel. Development plans for that site include a mix of retail, restaurants and offices with an apartment site and a townhouse site.

Sun Terra would need to get approval from the city for a Major PUD modification to incorporate the changes. Jerman said he hopes to begin horizontal development before the end of the year, with the first homes available in mid-2019.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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