Infill projects are making an impact By Harold Bubil Real Estate Editor The 2016 Parade of Homes is more than a procession through master-planned communities out east or down south.
This year’s event features a number of subdivisions and houses that are built in close-in locations, also known as infill.
Two new subdivisions stand where abandoned golf courses went to weed and ruin during the real estate collapse that ushered in the Great Recession.
The Enclave at Forest Lakes in Sarasota (featured in the Real Estate section on Saturday), and Mirabella at Village Green in Bradenton are new-home communities that are being built where golf courses were developed during the post-World War II boom. Driven out of business by a changing climate for golf, they were slated for redevelopment in the 2000s before the market went bust.
But with the rebirth of the market, developers have reactivated the projects.
Mirabella and The Enclave are among eight communities that will be featured during the Parade of Homes, which is the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association’s main marketing event of the year. The parade began Saturday and runs through March 8. Information is in the Parade of Homes booklet, which was distributed in the Herald-Tribune on Friday, or online at ParadeofHomesInfo.com. This section also contains comprehensive advertisements with maps and lists of model homes.
Marshall Gobuty, president of Mirabella Florida, acquired the Village Green parcel during the peak of the boom and had to wait a decade before redeveloping it with attached villas. Construction on the first model began in May 2015.
The land was entitled for 10 units to the acre, but Gobuty said that was too dense. He went before the city of Bradenton and received permits for a lower density. Mirabella will have 160 homes on 40 acres, and 90 percent of the project is completed.
“It is tricky to turn a golf course into a development,” he said, “because this was a former U.S. Home infill site, and it is not very contiguous. To really get the benefit and give the homeowners the most space and a common area, it was a real challenge from an engineering point of view.
“There are doglegs with three areas that interconnect to a main area through the middle. It is never easy when you are developing an infill site for many reasons, and one of them is getting the ability to have the correct number of homes, correct built-in space, and give your homeowners have great yards.”
Gobuty said neighboring villas, priced in the mid-$200,000s, have different colors, elevations and landscape packages. “It doesn’t look cookie-cutter,” he added. “I think it looks good, and I am the development’s toughest critic.”
He said Mirabella’s homes are LEED-, EnergyStar- and HERS-certified, with Energy Star appliances and EPA WaterSense faucets, toilets, showers and irrigation controllers.
“The market is good”
In 2015, the Parade of Homes had 93 models. BIA President Jimmy Stewart said the 110 models this year reflects a strengthening new-home market as builders are confident and willing to pay the entry fees.
“Southwest Florida, from Manatee to Collier counties, is leading the state” in building, Stewart said. “The 110 entries are by 36 builders, along with eight developments, 40 pools, 11 landscapes and one interior design company. The market is good. Southwest Florida is one of the premier destinations.”
Noting the high number of cash buyers, Stewart said, “It wouldn’t hurt if the top of the market settled down a little bit. There are major swings. These cash buyers, this is a discretionary purchase for them. They don’t have to do anything today, so the market becomes somewhat volatile. They just cross their arms and sit back.”
Stewart noted that more moderately priced homes are coming on the market in Lakewood Ranch with Mattamy Homes’ Harmony section of townhouses priced in the mid-$200,000s. Neal Communities’ Indigo is taking the place of its built-out Central Park section that was popular with young families.
“We are getting absorption in that $200,000 to $400,000 price point,” Stewart said.