Ocoee considers unsolicited homebuilder offer to buy public land for new townhomes

Beazer Homes is pursuing vacant public land in Ocoee, making an unsolicited purchase offer that falls below a 2015 appraisal, which City Commissioners will consider at a meeting next week. 

The homebuilder's Orlando division has offered $960,000 to the city for approximately 8.5 acres, which is bordered to the south by railroad Right-of-Way that's adjacent to AD Mims Road, to the north and east by Park Square Homes' Prairie Lake Reserve subdivision, and on the west by N. Clarke Road.

A townhome development is proposed by Beazer if the land is acquired, with an estimated 64 units. Beazer's offer price is contingent on adequate water and sanitary sewer service, and construction approval of at least 60 townhome units. 

The proposed contract would include a provision that the purchase price vary by $15,000 for each townhome approved above or below the $960,000 price that accounts for 64 lots. 

The city would also have to invest in extending Ocoee Vista Parkway further east along the property's northeast side to complete connectivity to AD Mims Road.

Beazer currently has eight communities in development across Greater Orlando, with its nearest to Ocoee being the planned Lakeshore of Wekiva in Apopka. 

The Ocoee site in question is residential infill, surrounded by mature single-family home developments and public services, including the city's Jim Beech Recreation Center about a quarter mile to the west. 

The city acquired the 12-acre parcel in 2006 for $3.5 million for the purpose of building a new police department headquarters. It subsequently relocated Ocoee's police department to another facility, and the subject property has remained undeveloped ever since.

A 15-food-wide portion of the eastern boundary is dedicated to public use and owned by the city for future road construction. Approximately $2.6 million remains unpaid on the bond use to finance the 2006 land purchase from Silvestri Investments of Florida

An appraisal of the property requested by the city was not delivered in time for the April 3 meeting, so commissioners opted to table the issue until the next City Commission meeting on April 17. 

It is unknown if the city will move to publicize the land for sale formally to attract more bids, or negotiate directly with Beazer on its original offer price. A public hearing would follow if commissioners vote on April 17 that they're willing to sell the property.

Staff made no recommendation on April 3. The original purchase price was $292,000 per acre, and the property was appraised in June 2015 as having a value of $144,000 per acre for residential use. Beazer's offer equates to $113,000 per acre. 

Beazer would ask for 90 days for due diligence, during which its $50,000 deposit could be refunded for any reason. 

The purchase offer proposed but does not quantify some closing costs to be paid by the city, though the buyer has offered to pay all real estate brokerage fees to Charles Vickers of Central Florida Land Brokers, who represented the buyer. Beazer would also want a right of first refusal for the 3.5-acre balance of to be retained by the city, if the eventual proposed use is residential. 

St. Cloud-based KDA Engineering worked with Beazer to produce a conceptual site plan for city staff. 

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