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.
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.
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.
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?