FL: Mattamy Homes builds empire, Vengroff’s affordable housing on hold

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Today’s Florida real estate highlights are mind boggling. They clearly illustrate the massive political influence of real estate developers. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

In Southwest Florida, Canadian mega developer Mattamy Homes’ latest plans include construction of 400 homes on the former Sunrise Golf course. Mattamy is teaming up with Vanguard Land to redevelop the weed infested, long abandoned golf course. New construction will more than double the size of the subdivision, and make some owners happy.

A Canadian builder’s big plans for Southwest Florida

Norene Wilson, president of the Sunrise Golf Club Condominium Association, said the residents are pleased with a new covenant negotiated with Vanguard’s John Peskin that will protect their properties.

The covenant includes a 175-foot buffer between existing and new homes, a walking path and a 100-foot lake around the site, and a restriction on using the main Approach Road entrance.

“We got the best deal we could have gotten,” Wilson said. “After 2022, they could have done what they wanted. They seem to be decent people to work with.”

But construction in Sunrise is dwarfed by plans for a mega development planned for North Port, where Mattamy purchased more than 9000 acres in 2014 for $86 million. Over the next 30-40 years, up to 11,000 homes are planned.  The first phase of 630 homes will reportedly open next year.

But there’s something disturbing about approving such large-scale, long-term development. The state of Florida is already chock full of 30-40 year old subdivisions where a developer is still in control of large swaths of land and thousands of properties. (For example, Poinciana and The Villages) And the state is still dealing with unfinished zombie subdivisions that were casualties of the last real estate bust.

Alachua County zombie subdivisions slowly coming back to life

According to information provided by the Alachua County Department of Growth Management at the Sun’s request, there were 29 subdivisions with 10 or more lots platted between 1999 and 2010 that still have 40 percent or more vacant lots. Combined, 881 out of 1,283 total lots in those subdivisions remain vacant, or nearly seven in 10 lots waiting for homes to be built.

Ultimately, how much land is the state of Florida going to place into the hands of a few large and well-financed developers, and for how long?



Meanwhile, in Sarasota, builder Harvey Vengroff has proposed a sizeable 393-unit affordable housing development, projected to cost $20 million, and partially funded by HUD (Housing and Urban Development). However, when City Commissioners voted 3-2 to in favor of mandated City Inspections to enforce required HUD standards, Vengroff decided to call off the project. He walked out of the meeting in a huff.

According to the Miami Herald report, Vengroff maintains that to allow building inspections would be an invasion of his private business. He does not want “government intrusion.” But a majority of City Commissioners are concerned that landlords may not adequately maintain the property in the future.

Affordable housing proposal in jeopardy after chaos at meeting

SARASOTA – A fuming Harvey Vengroff walked out of the hearing on his much-anticipated affordable housing development on Fruitville Road at the City Commission’s meeting Monday night.

After Sarasota leaders proposed a stipulation that the city be allowed to inspect the proposed 393-apartment property at 2211 Fruitville Road, Vengroff stood up from the back row of the commission chambers and told the commissioners the project was over.

Read more: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20160502/ARTICLE/160509913/2416/BLOG12

When Vengroff stormed out of the meeting, according to the report, nearly 50 of his supporters were stunned. Several angry outbursts disrupted the meeting.

It’s hard to believe that people would be angry about allowing building code inspections. If the developer is building a quality project, and all interested parties plan to maintain it well into the future, why such a strong objection to City inspections?


3 thoughts on “FL: Mattamy Homes builds empire, Vengroff’s affordable housing on hold

  1. Donna Simpson May 4, 2016 — 8:09 pm

    Thanks for the update on these large scale developments, counties be warned you can take precedents in smaller development more than you can with larger ones like Poinciana which is still dealing with developer control of over 40 years. Issue with these large scale developments, that will have stagnated age of homes built, with newer ones being built which causes a huge price difference for the older homes and in most cases buyers will go after the lower end if they are within a certain income differences. Then you will have to deal with a developer who will always control your board of directors and who they put on the board a great deal of favoritism toward looking out for the developer and special interest groups instead of the homeowners themselves. The counties favor due to [the fact] they don’t have to put up the man power to take care of or maintain county roads or property as they will pay the HOA money to do that, but will your HOA truly take care of these properties as like Poinciana a number of county owned property as in parks went into disrepair so where did the money go that the counties were paying? Then you have to pull teeth to even get the county involved as their stand point “it’s not our problem.”

    Here is something you must think about, did you know in case of a natural disaster as in Hurricane, tornados, major flooding that your community will not be covered as in State or Federal help due to the fact your community is now a private corporation, also if there are not enough Fire Departments built to handle these homes your home insurance will also be sky high. Traffic, if the plans are not done in such away to allow for traffic in many directions in or out, your so called community will continue to be a nightmare getting to and from any job. Again take it from a community who is the State’s largest HOA, there is no retail economic development to sustain your community, which is what Poinciana has been dealing with only to have just about a dollar store on every corner.

    Then you have to deal with the newly by-laws/covenants & Restriction all written by the developer whose only interest is theirs. I will forewarn all that move into this community to be sure to get a copy of the Articles of Incorporation for this community. Yep, the county is just as corrupt as the developer quick development without forethought of the future which Poinciana has been dealing with now for 40 years and barely getting any relief from both counties for which this community is within.

    Unless there is a sweeping change in our State HOA Laws as in HOA Reform this community and many other will be doomed as like Poinciana whose homeowners are now fighting the developer and the homeowners association for all the injustices that have transpired over these many years all because of unknown uneducated buyers. All I can say do not buy into a trumped up fictitious dream as what the developer or county has laid out in a drawn up plan that looks good on paper, it’s not real so don’t soak your money into something that you will regret later, as many are dealing with here in Poinciana Florida.

    Please think twice, there are better places to live without an HOA hanging over you head day and night.

    Donna Simpson
    Poinciana, Fl a HOA nightmare from the very beginning. Will we see justice this year. We as in homeowners are fighting back now but my God look at how long it has taken some homeowners to wake up. Is it worth it? Is your happiness worth the risk of a nightmare after the fact?

  2. Yeah, I’d want to wrap up the vacancy issues before embarking on new projects. It’s probably about money—for all the players.

    Who knows what Vengroff is thinking? He may perceive government inspections as control issues and delays. The stipulated checks could prove to be beneficial in minimizing Vengroff’s exposure.

  3. Thank you Deborah for keeping us informed

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