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National homebuilder D.R. Horton recently paid $3.72 million for the four parcels outlined in yellow. The seller was Orlando-based Project Finance & Development.
National homebuilder D.R. Horton recently paid $3.72 million for the four parcels outlined in yellow. The seller was Orlando-based Project Finance & Development. (Seminole County Property Appraiser/staff edit)

Orlando developer Dwight Saathoff's firm, Project Finance and Development, sold 44 acres near Sanford to Texas-based homebuilder D.R. Horton for $3.72 million, according to a deed filed Monday in Seminole County.

The land, now vacant, is just east of the Sanford city limits on Celery Avenue between Sipes and North Beardall avenues. PF&D, under affiliate American Land Investments of Celery Avenue LLC, bought the four parcels in December 2012 for a total of $1.31 million.

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Saathoff said he didn't have D.R. Horton in mind when his firm purchased the land, but he did think it would be prime real estate for a residential development. The property is about a mile and a half from downtown Sanford and close to the St. Johns River. Saathoff has acquired all the necessary entitlements for the property to be developed.

D.R. Horton is prepping for the next phase of Kindred, its massive master-planned community east of Lake Tohopekaliga in Osceola County.

"Seminole County is usually a good place for residential development," Saathoff told GrowthSpotter. "There's not much land left there, if there's any at all, and a lot people still want to live in Seminole County. So, I figured that was a pretty good area. "

Seminole County has approved a final development plan for the property that features 143 single-family, detached home sites, with a minimum lot size of 60-by-120 feet.

D.R. Horton plans to build a gated community on the property called Rosecrest, according to company spokeswoman Marissa Awtry. Amenities will include a pool and cabana. Lawn maintenance is expected to be included in the HOA fees for Rosecrest residents, she said. The houses will be a minimum of 1,600 square feet, according to plans submitted to Seminole County.

"Seminole County continues to be a well sought-after location for many homebuyers due to its top-rated schools, nearby entertainment and major employers, which make it an excellent location for a new community," Awtry said in an e-mail.

The homebuilder currently has three Seminole County communities in active development, including two under its Emerald Homes brand.

"Celery Avenue has a real nice feel to it," Saathoff said. "It's close to the river and there's great access to and from the property. Lake Mary Boulevard runs close to it. It's a direct connection to (State Road) 417 and its close to downtown Sanford, which is kind of a good place to be."

Insight on the developer's game plan, which homebuilder is expected to buy, and where construction stands on the initial models.

Earlier this year, Saathoff sold land to D.R. Horton for the Riverbend development, a 653-lot residential community, also east of downtown Sanford. Saathoff said he expects to close soon on a contract to sell D.R. Horton another 45.32 acres at the corner of Hughey Street and North Beardall Avenue for Riverbend's second phase.

To enhance the value of the Riverbend property, Saathoff sold land to the Galileo School for Gifted Learning  at a "steep discount." The K-8 charter school at 3900 East S.R. 46 has done so well, Saathoff said, that expansion plans are in the works.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact us at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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