Jacksonville-based Dream Finders Homes has been fine-tuning plans for its Serenade at Ovation community along the shores of Lake Oliver in Village I of Horizon West since 2018.
When the homebuilder came before the county’s Development Review Committee last week seeking final approval for a revised version of its 227-lot subdivision plan, county staff voiced concerns about traffic along this stretch of Avalon Road.
The busy developer, which has 1,500 new homes across several subdivisions in the pipeline for Horizon West, got another item added to its already lengthy to-do list.
Diana Almodovar, the county’s deputy director of public works, asked Dream Finders Homes to conduct a traffic analysis to determine whether traffic signals are needed at the entrance of its Serenade at Ovation project, which calls for 141 detached homes and 86 townhomes.
Dream Finders Homes is also building in the 455-lot Accolades at Ovation planned development just to the south of the 116-acre Serenade property.
On the other side of Avalon Road (or State Road 545), an entity called Floribra Land is seeking to rezone 97 acres in order to build 516 multifamily units and 196 townhomes, according to an application submitted to the county on August 8.
“One thing I’m concerned about is that there have been so many accidents along Avalon Road,” Almodovar said. “Every community meeting we go to we hear about all the traffic problems on (S.R.) 545 with no traffic control.”
This late in the process ― after getting approval for the site’s mass grading and an earlier version of the subdivision plan which stipulated that the homebuilder put in turn lanes on Avalon Road— the request by the county for a new traffic study caught developers by surprise.
“Our construction plans are already approved pending somebody stamping it, and we are putting in some turn lanes,” said Steven Thorp, the company’s land entitlement manager. “That’s what was requested during the review, but at the last minute...that may not be enough.”
While Dream Finders Homes has already completed work on several projects in Horizon West, some are taking longer to get started due to the high demand for construction materials and a longer-than-usual review process with local and state permitting agencies, Thorp said.
“Supply chain disruptions/material lead times are a fairly significant issue right now, in addition to ever-increasing review timelines,” he told GrowthSpotter. “These delays are impacting most projects in some form or fashion.”
For the long-envisioned Ovation at Serenade project, Dream Finders has introduced an amendment to the plan showing it constructed in three phases with 17 lakefront lots.
The new phased development approach for land west of Avalon Road resulted in minor modifications to lot sizes, setbacks, and buffering, all of which require county approval.
The latest land-use plan for the project, submitted by engineering firm Poulos & Bennett, shows a housing community divided into two districts: the garden home mixed-use district on parcel 18 and the village home district on parcel 19.
The garden home district is larger and includes 163 single-family housing units — 97 detached homes and 66 townhomes. The village home district includes 64 single-family housing units — 44 detached homes and 20 townhomes.
“Serenade is unique in the fact that it is a mixture of products with townhomes and bungalow-style single-family. I wouldn’t say we have anything similar in the area,” Thorp said.
Its lot sizes also make it unique compared to most other Dream Finders subdivisions in Horizon West, he added.
“They are larger in the aspect that the largest lot is 50 feet” Thorp said. “A lot of Horizon West is smaller 40 and 30-foot projects.
One of the few exceptions is Dream Finder’s Silverleaf South community in Horizon West’s Town Center village, which will have 60- foot lots.
Of the 118 acres of property, 38.9 are developable while 25 acres are covered by wetlands and another 33 acres are covered by surface water. Another four acres will be set aside for open recreational space, including several parks throughout the community.
The first phase calls for the construction of 58 townhomes and 62 detached homes — 48 with 32-foot lots and 14 with larger 50-foot lots.
The second phase calls for the construction of stormwater and road infrastructure. The third phase would see the construction of 28 townhomes and 79 detached single-family homes — 67 with 50-foot lots and 12 with 32-foot lots.
With the new phased approach, the developer is seeking alterations to the project’s preliminary subdivision plan, which was approved with waivers in December.
Dream Finders Homes purchased this piece of property within the Serenade at Ovation PD in 2021 for $14.5 million. The PD overall covers 155 acres.
The company has been establishing a strong brand foothold in the Horizon West community.
Dream Finders Homes currently has three separate subdivision projects underway as part of the proposed Silverleaf mixed-use development within the red-hot Hamlin development district, located west of Avalon Road.
The first DFH project in the Silverleaf area is expected to see completion by the first quarter of 2023. It’s for a community of 96 townhomes called Hamlin Ridge slated for a 11.3 acre parcel that runs along Avalon Road, north of Lake Ingraham.
On an adjacent 10 acres to the south, Dream Finders is planning to place another 53 detached single-family homes.
Further south, on the other side of Lake Ingraham, on a 66.7-acre parcel, the home-builder has laid out its newest, largest project within the Silverleaf parameters: 294 homesites with a mix of detached dwellings and townhomes.
It sits adjacent to where Valencia College is set to build its new campus.
The company has recently submitted development plans for a 184-lot single-family home subdivision at 5859 Avalon Road. The lots will be a minimum of 40 feet wide.
Thorp said the company expects to start construction soon on its Hamlin West community called Parkview at Hamlin, which is approved for 225 townhomes.
Just a short distance away, Dream Finders Homes has built out its 177-lot Wincey Groves at Hamlin residential community, located northwest of New Independence Parkway and Avalon Road. Dream Finders Homes is also behind the 151-lot Lakeside at Hamlin neighborhood that launched in the summer of 2021.
The surge in residential growth in Horizon West prompted the Orange County School District to build a new elementary school and middle school combo on land just west of where Dream Finders is planning a townhome community.
The new schools, Hamlin Elementary and Hamlin Middle School, are intended to relieve overcrowding at Whispering Oak and Water Spring elementary schools and Bridgewater Middle School.
According to school district data, Water Spring’s enrollment has climbed from 973 students in 2019 —when the school opened — to 1,179 this school year, an increase of 21 percent. If a new school wasn’t built, the school’s enrollment is projected to have reached 2,660 by 2032, a 72 % increase.
Dream Finders Homes was formed in 2008 and has quickly become one of the nation’s fastest-growing homebuilding companies. It closed 6,126 homes in 2021, nearly doubling the number of sales in 2020 and moving it up seven spots to 17th on Builder Magazine’s Top 100 Builders list. DFH builds homes in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Virginia and Maryland.