Melbourne-based Vintage Estate Homes has purchased 44 estate homesites in Lake Helen, a city north of Orlando long known for carefully managing growth, with plans for single-family homes similar to existing product that swayed historical-board members' favor before the deal closed.
Vintage paid $1.144 million for the property in Woods of Lake Helen, in the southwest quadrant of the city, south of Main Street and just east of Interstate 4. The seller was D.R. Horton. Vintage plans to open models in spring or summer of next year.
Lot sizes will average 0.41 acres, which appealed to Tim Durkin of Vintage, who has been working with the city to ensure the homes will fit Lake Helen's gateway-overlay standards. Designs will reflect what Vintage has built in Oakland Park in Winter Garden.
"The historic district that they have, there are guidelines on the types of homes they will allow," Durkin told GrowthSpotter on Friday.
Vintage consulted with representatives of the city's historical board for input, he said. He also worked with LRK Architects' Celebration office, which consulted on Oakland Park, to draft suitable home elevations.
"They wanted to make sure everybody was on the same page as far as wanting what Vintage established they want to build there, and what the city's and the residents' expectations were, and that there wasn't any miscommunication," said Steve Costa, associate with NAI Realvest Charles Wayne Commercial, who represented the seller.
Durkin said he continues to work with the city but has seen enough indication of a good relationship to move ahead with the land.
"We do have a strong culture and interest in preserving our 'old Florida' charm," mayor Daisy Raisler said.
That includes the city's historic preservation board, which makes a recommendation on each home that moves up to the city commission, said Becky Witte, interim city administrator.
"They did go last month to the historic board with some concepts, the board provided some input, and then it's going to be site-specific," WItte said. The overlay has been in place in some form since 2001.
Lake Helen off I-4 between DeLand and Deltona is well situated to be a bedroom community approximately halfway between Sanford and Daytona Beach. Previous plans submitted by D.R. Horton eventually led to a lawsuit, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported last year.
Last summer, a process for a written certificate of approval was established, Witte said.
"I think city leaders are very excited about creating something that can spark economic development and revitalizes the downtown area," Costa said. "They need a spark that can help attract capital investors, and hopefully this is a way to start painting Lake Helen as a place to do business."
Durkin praised the location of Lake Helen and called it a "quiet, quaint town" that's part of a region poised for surrounding growth, with sparse land offerings in Seminole County prompting developers to "jump the river."
Vintage's offerings in Oakland Park include five home plans starting at three bedrooms and 2,101 square feet, according to its website.