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Highlighted in red is the property planned for Avalon Groves in Lake County's Wellness Way area.
Highlighted in red is the property planned for Avalon Groves in Lake County's Wellness Way area. (Lake County Property Appraiser)

A residential community that would kick off new home construction in South Lake County's Wellness Way area as early as 2017, and help build a new road to open up the remote area to Walt Disney World and S.R. 429, is seeking an extension of its zoning approval.

Avalon Groves, a 987-acre Planned Development project that has county approval for 1,659 homes and some neighborhood commercial development, is facing a May 24 deadline on its zoning approval has sought a two-year extension.

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Hearthstone Inc. and Stonehill Capital Management own the land, however Kolter Land Partners has a contract to buy the property, said Jim Harvey, Kolter's president.

The Avalon Groves project received its development approvals in 2012, and has since been working to gain approvals from the county, other development agencies and some clarity on its wetlands and densities, according to its application for a zoning extension.

Harvey said Tuesday that Kolter has plans to begin development of the land later this year, subject to the zoning extension and approval of Development Plans, which have changed slightly since the original approval to apportion the development more evenly across the project. If all goes well, homes will be under construction by 2017, he said.

A related road project is likely to have more impact than Avalon Groves itself on South Lake County.

Kolter plans to begin building a road through Avalon Grove up to the Orange County line, which will connect U.S. 27 to Disney at Western Way and S.R. 429. The firm will build part of the road to the east, while Disney has said it plans to extend Western Way further west, which would leave just a small gap left to complete the connection.

"That is an obvious connection for Orange County where growth is happening," Harvey said.

It also connects Lake County directly to that growth as well.

"I do see this South Lake area becoming a major new growth area for Central Florida," Harvey said.

The Avalon Groves development will be within the Wellness Way footprint. However, since it received its approvals before Wellness Way was created, it will be developed denser than the rest of the area, said Jim Karr, one of the leading land owners pushing for the Wellness Way plan.

That plan remains short of full adoption by the state, and has a lawsuit by CEMEX clouding its future.

Karr welcomes the potential road connection toward Disney.

"That is a game-changer for that area," he said, noting the road would shorten the trip from about a 20-mile drive to six miles.

Avalon Groves will have a density of about four units per acre, while development in the rest of Wellness Way is about half that, Karr said.

A public hearing on the extension is tentatively scheduled for April 27 at the Planning and Zoning Board, and on May 17 before the County Commission.

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The Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to consider creating an Avalon Groves Community Development District on April 19.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at teresaburney4@gmail.com or 352-455-1955 Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and Linkedin.

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