Developer behind Apopka's Errol golf course redevelopment earns key approval

Celebration-based Signature H Property Group earned a key City Council approval on Tuesday night in Apopka to redevelop parts of the 400-acre Apopka Golf and Tennis Club at Errol Estates, and remains on pace to break ground in the fourth quarter on Phase 1 buildings and golf course renovation.

Located between Errol Parkway and Vick Road in Apopka, the Errol Estates property has struggled financially in recent years like many Florida golf courses. 

Veteran commercial real estate developer Helmut J. Wyzisk, Jr. was brought in by the course and country club's owner in late 2015 to save the property from default. In Spring 2016, Wyzisk's team arrived at an economic model to redevelop vast portions with new commercial anchors and residential, while elevating the golf course's status. 

Last October, the "New Errol" Planned Unit Development Master Plan and Future Land Use amendment earned approval from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

On Tuesday evening, Apopka held a special City Council meeting for the second reading of a large-scale Comprehensive Plan amendment for the New Errol project, and a first reading for the zoning change and Master Plan filing. 

The rezoning and MP filing earned unanimous approval on first reading, while the Comprehensive Plan amendment action was deferred until April on staff recommendation, which the developer supported. 

A second reading at City Council should follow on April 11, when final adoption is expected for all three items. 

With that PUD rezoning in hand, Signature H could then continue its civil engineering work, produce a mass grading plan, and prepare a Phase 1 Preliminary Development Plan and Final Development Plan for submittal. 

The public hearings were held at the Apopka Community Center to accommodate an extra large crowd of residents, since up to 300 have attended a majority of public meetings for the New Errol project over the past two years. 

The PUD Master Plan calls for a new 25,000-square-foot Staghorn clubhouse with underground golf cart barn, restaurant, boutique 40-room Staghorn Lodge hotel, a two-acre water park, outdoor trails and park space, up to 261 new homes (67 single-family, 194 townhomes), and a 240-unit assisted living facility (180 units standard, and a 60-unit skilled care section for acute rehab). 

The Phase 1 DP should include the cut-in of a new entrance off of Vick Road, the clubhouse, aquatic amenity, the lodge, 90 initial home lots and part of the assisted living facility. 

When those Phase 1 DP approvals are earned, the developer could pursue construction permits and break ground by late fourth quarter, vice president Helmut Wyzisk III told GrowthSpotter.  

Mass grading on Phase 1 segments of the property, vertical construction on Phase 1 buildings and renovation of the remaining 18-hole golf course should be underway by year's end, he added. 

Butler Moore Architects is the newest consultant hired on for the New Errol project, said Wyzisk III, and will design the clubhouse and lodge buildings. 

Signature H has yet to announce its choice of residential construction manager for Phase 1. The developer has also yet to hire a residential brokerage to help market the homes for sale, and may keep that role in-house due to the limited lot count, Wyzisk III said. 

The developer has reguarly held two open house community meetings each week for residents to meet developers and discuss the plans. Wyzisk III said his team has built strong relationships with residents since 2016 by walking the Errol neighborhoods and knocking on every door.

"Our tactic was to be ultra-transparent, and with that I think we've built the trust," he said. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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