Meritage pursues site work start on South Seminole's former 'San Pedro' property

GrowthSpotter contributor

Meritage Homes will begin work later this year on a 695-home subdivision in South Seminole County, with an initial phase of homes hitting the market in mid-2018.

The property, nearly 270 acres on Howell Branch Road between S.R. 436 and Dike Road with frontage on Lake Howell, was formerly known as San Pedro Center and owned by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.

Developer and land-banking specialist Sun Terra Communities of Oviedo, with backing from New York private equity firm JEN Partners, bought the land in 2016 for $26.7 million. The company received approval in December for mixed-use Planned Development zoning of up to 710 homes, a 125-bed assisted living facility and 50,000 square feet of retail.

Meritage was heavily involved in developing concept plans for the community in 2016, now dubbed "Hawk's Crest," but had not been confirmed as the exclusive homebuilder until now. 

Meritage marketing manager Polly Heard told GrowthSpotter the company liked the San Pedro property’s location because it is adjacent to Lake Howell and near Winter Park.

“It’s a great in-fill location,” she said.

Last month, Sun Terra principal Richard Jerman submitted a preliminary site plan to the county with 695 lots and no assisted living product. The residential sites are split between 445 single-family homes with four units per buildable acre, and 250 townhomes with seven units per acre.

Permit requests were also made in late April with the St. John's River Water Management District. 

Jerman told GrowthSpotter in February the townhomes will be a separate community with their own pool and clubhouse. The single-family homes will be in a gated community with ample amenities, including a large pool and clubhouse near the entrance and a community dock on Lake Howell. 

The commercial portion of the development will be 6.82 acres. All roads in the development will be private except a portion of one internal road serving the commercial tract.

Madden Moorhead & Stokes are civil engineers on the project. In November, engineer Charlie Madden told the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission that homes in the development will have floorplans similar to a Meritage community in Winter Springs.

Homes built by Meritage include as standard features energy-efficient upgrades like spray-foam insulation and weather-sensitive irrigation systems. The company is also the first builder to offer solar panels as an upgrade in all its communities, and is even building an all-solar community in Orange County

The Diocese of Orlando retained 200 contiguous acres and continues to operate a spiritual center there. A county development order allows the center to add 48 dorm rooms, 50,000 square feet of support facilities and a 4,500-square-foot home for the clergy.

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