After snagging land just south of Mount Dora for $6.1 million earlier this year, Atlanta-based Pulte Homes is preparing to build a gated community boasting executive level homes on 80-foot wide lots with a handful of larger estate lots.
The homebuilder is moving forward on a project titled Foothills Preserve that will bring a total of 234 high-end homes to a 295-acre stretch of land west of U.S. Highway 441, north of Zellwood, near Apopka’s rapidly growing Kelly Park Interchange District where a number of smaller-lot residential developments and new schools are planned.
Max Perlman, vice president of land acquisition with Pulte Homes, told GrowthSpotter that the location of a Publix grocery store near the entrance of the planned community, along U.S. 441, only adds to its appeal.
Orange County’s development review commission approved the project on July 13.
While land development is underway, Perlman expects construction to start in early 2023. It will be completed in four phases, according to site plans drafted by engineering firm Donald W Mcintosh & Associates.
“The large, private lots in a gated community are an attractive value proposition relative to some smaller lot options in the Kelly Park corridor,” Perlman said. “Additionally, proximity to downtown Mount Dora’s shopping and dining as well as having a Publix at the community’s entrance (are) particularly attractive to prospective buyers compared to other nearby areas.”
A short drive from U.S. 441 to the west, the site is bordered to the north by the 362-lot Stoneybrook Hills subdivision, which was developed by Miami-based Lennar Homes.
A northeastern part of the Foothills Preserve site is reserved for the Orange County school district to build a future elementary and middle school to accommodate growth in the Kelly Park corridor where Pulte has developed several other housing communities.
“We have multiple school sites reserved for future growth in the north part of the county including those two sites,” said Thomas Moore, the school district’s demographer. “However, in our 10-Year capital plan, we have only one school site in the north planned.’
The K-8 Kelly Park School, at 4700 Jason Dwelley Pkwy, is one of five new schools the district plans to open in August. It will provide relief for Zellwood Elementary and Wolf Lake Middle School, which serves that area.
“All other school sites reserved are planned outside of 10 years,” Moore said.
Perlman said that the executive homes would come with a minimum lot size of 80 feet by 120 feet. According to site plans, homes are as tall as two stories and would come with 25-foot setbacks from the front and back and 7.5-foot setbacks from the side. Open space would cover 88 acres, including parks and a recreational facility with a ballfield and tennis courts on the western edge of the property.
The site plan also creates four estate lots around the perimeter of the community ranging in size from 3.4 acres to 44.2 acres. One lot abuts the future elementary school site. The largest comprises nearly the entire southern peninsula of the property. Perlman said Pulte would market those lots separately at a later date.
It’s unlike any other Pulte project.
“I don’t know that I’d compare it to another active Pulte development today,” Perlman said.
Pulte Homes is one of America’s largest homebuilding companies with operations in more than 40 markets throughout the country. In the first quarter of 2022, the company earned $3.1 billion in revenue through the closure of 6,039 homes at an average sale price of $508,000, according to the company’s website.
In 2021, the company sold 28,894 homes, the third most of any home building company in the country, according to Builder 100.
The homebuilder has been active in the Central Florida market and continues to expand its footprint along the I-4 corridor. At the end of 2021, the company’s Orlando division closed on a flurry of land transactions here totaling $120.5 million.
The acquisitions spanned four counties and included a variety of housing products — everything from age-restricted to resort to primary residential.
Half of the deals took place in Osceola County, including the largest: $33 million for the final two phases of Tohoqua, a master-planned community in St. Cloud that included 500 lots, splits between a residential neighborhood and an age-restricted community, in its first phase.
In Orange County, Pulte made a $27.5 million investment in Beachline North Residential LLC to gain control of the first 1,000 lots in Vista Park, a 1,572-acre mixed-use master-planned community just off Lee Vista Boulevard at the Beachline Expressway.
The company has also been spreading its brand of homes throughout Apopka and its Kelly Park district.
In March, Pulte submitted plans to the city to rezone roughly 40 acres at Ondich Rd. and Plymouth Sorrento Road in order to build a 140-lot single-family home community. According to the proposed Development Program, the community will feature 64, 34-foot-wide detached lots that will be rear-loaded, and 76, 55-foot-wide lots that will be front-loaded.
In November, Pulte paid about $2.3 million to purchase about 50 acres less than five minutes away at 4140 Plymouth Sorrento Rd. where it’s planning a 175-lot single-family home community.
Elsewhere in Apopka, Pulte is behind the 153-lot Vista Reserve community off Rogers Road, where sales began in late 2019. As of Wednesday afternoon, only one home was available for sale here totaling 2,637 square feet at a price of $546,950.
Prior to that community, Pulte built the Rock Springs Estates 60-lot neighborhood located southeast of Lester and Vick roads. Further south in Apopka, Pulte closed out its 136-unit Crossings Emerson Park townhome community by the end of 2020.