When Dwight Saathoff set out to bring the Orlando market its first Agrihood community with 2,078 residential lots and more than 100,000 square feet of commercial space centered around a nine-acre working farm, home builders jumped at the opportunity to be a part of something unique.
“I had bids from at least a dozen builders to come over here,” Saathoff, owner of Project Finance & Development, told GrowthSpotter. “We wanted to partner with someone we knew; someone we had a lot of comfort and trust with.”
Ultimately, the PulteGroup — which Saathoff had worked with previously — was chosen to build out the long-planned “farm and garden” community called The Grow. Nine years in the making, it’s finally getting the remaining necessary approvals from the Orange County Commission.
The sweeping master development plan covers a total of 1,185 acres of pastoral land in a rural section of Northeast Orange County between Lake Pickett Road and State Road 50 near Bithlo. In addition to a mix of attached and detached single-family homes, the project calls for 21 acres of community gardens, a 20-acre community park, 12 miles of recreational trails, an equestrian facility, edible landscaping, a street for farmers’ markets, and a farm-to-table restaurant, among other agricultural amenities.
The site also has land set aside for a future k-8 school. Roughly 650 acres will remain open space and a 100-foot buffer of natural vegetation will separate the community from main roadways.
In March, the county signed off on the project’s infrastructure and road network. On Sept. 27, the commission gave final approval to a preliminary subdivision plan for the south portion of the site: 722 detached homes and 164 townhome units.
The final section, the north piece of The Grow, which calls for 1,070 detached homes and 122 townhomes, is expected to go before the commission in the coming weeks.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Saathoff said, adding with a laugh. “I tell people I was a young man when I started this project.”
He began work on this project nearly nine years ago. The idea was inspired, in part, by his ancestors who were farmers in South Dakota.
Since then, the Agrihood concept has grown in popularity across the country.
Today, the Urban Land Institute estimates that there are more than 200 agrihoods across the United States, spanning at least 30 states, from rural communities to major cities.
“When I started there weren’t many of these,” he said. “It’s definitely a style of development that has a lot of appeal.”
The Grow is a project that Pulte is “grateful” to be a part of, said Max Perlman, the VP of Land Acquisition for the company’s Central Florida division.
[ Earlier coverage: Pulte chosen to build out The Grow ]
He said homes within the project will have a mix of architectural styles and product types with lots ranging in size from 32 feet to one-acre.
Townhomes are planned to be between 1,600 and 1,900 square feet with 3-4 bedrooms while detached homes will range in size from 1,600 to over 5,000 square feet.
Specific styles and floorplans are currently under design, he added.
“Pulte is excited to be a part of this thoughtfully planned community with its’ immense natural beauty, an excellent location and tremendous opportunity to create a lifestyle unlike any other in Central Florida,” Perlman said in an email.
VHB and Jim Hall with HallDSI are the community planners for the subdivision plans. VHB also serves as the civil engineer on the project. Bio-Tech Consulting Inc. is handling environmental affairs and Allen & Company is the surveyor.
Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.