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Palm Beach County officials could approve a land use change that would permit more than 2,100 apartments in the Agricultural Reserve to address the lack of workforce housing in the area.

The County Planning Commission approved on April 8 the future land use change to facilitate “essential housing” in the Agricultural Reserve west of Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. The application was initiated by county staff, not a particular landowner. However, the application would apply to five specific parcels covering a combined 269 acres in the area.

The Agricultural Reserve is one of the largest markets for single-family home development in all of South Florida. The development rules encourage low density and a certain portion of land must be set aside for agriculture and open space for every acre developed. Using density of 2.5 units per acre, nearly 11,000 homes have been developed there, according to the county memo.

Given the low-density development pattern in the Agricultural Reserve, there are almost no housing opportunities for most people employed in the workforce, the county memo stated. The median sales price of a home on less than one acre in the area was $880,000, according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser. Less than 3% of the homes sold for under $500,000.

“Creating a higher density category with both a significant workforce housing requirement and a preserve requirement will help to address this imbalance while continuing to support the preservation objective,” the county memo stated.

The staff recommendation for the essential housing land use category is eight units per acre and a requirement to preserve 60% of the site and develop 40%. In addition, 25% of the units must be workforce housing.

That land use category would be restricted to locations fronting major roads, like Atlantic Avenue and Boynton Beach Boulevard, in close proximity to Florida’s Turnpike. Under the essential housing proposal, these five sites could be developed with a combined 2,152 units. However, that number could increase to 5,379 units if the owners of these properties are able to preserve land in other locations within the Agricultural Reserve, thus being able to build apartments on the entirety of their land within the essential housing district.

Developers such as GL Homes frequently buy land in the Agricultural Reserve for preservation in order to build home communities in other locations in the area. One of those five locations already has a pending development application.

The essential housing land use plan would need approval from the County Commission at a later date.


Source: SFBJ


The county zoning commission unanimously approved revised plans for an industrial-commercial project that will abut the Dakota Homes development west of Delray Beach despite strong opposition from area residents who fear the project will decimate their property values and destroy their quality of life.

Resident after resident told the zoning board they never would have bought in the 387-unit GL Homes development, currently under construction, had they known that the land adjacent to them was zoned industrial. Some of the homeowners paid as much as $600,000 for their homes.

“We knew something was going to be built there but not an industrial park,” said Monica Belisle, whose home on Salty Bay Drive is about 250 feet from the project.

At issue is whether West Delray Collision can move its operations across the street to a 10-acre site on the south side of Atlantic Avenue about .2 miles east of State Road 7. The 164,000-square foot project also calls for a 35-foot tall self-storage facility, a car wash, two warehouse buildings and a tire repair facility.

The Board of County Commissioners will decide the fate of the project Thursday, Aug. 22.

The Zoning Commission forced West Delray Collision to revise its plans so that its operations were farther away from Dakota Homes after residents pleaded for help at a July meeting. The revisions include:

  • Increasing the setback from 100 feet to 170 feet.
  • Increasing the buffer to 50 feet.
  • Reducing the size of the self-storage facility by 12,000 square feet.
  • Adding a second canopy of trees.
  • Building a 50-foot wall on the east side of the property next to Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.
  • Moving the dumpster from West Delray Collision farther away from Dakota.

But the concessions did nothing to appease the residents.

 “It’s like dying by cyanide or electrocution,” he said. “We feel like we are being bulldozed,” said Boca Raton cardiologist Steven Pollack, who like Belisle also lives on Salty Bay Drive:

Pollack and others claim traffic congestion is a nightmare on Atlantic Avenue, which is only one lane in each direction. The state has plans to widen the heavily traveled highway but that project is not expected to start until sometime in 2022 and may take two or more years to complete.

It is a big mistake to put more traffic on Atlantic Avenue before it is widened, he said, noting that people may not get to nearby hospitals in time for treatment because of the traffic congestion.

“Moving the auto repair operation 70 feet away won’t make a difference,” said Matthew Belisle.

He was concerned with the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. operations Monday to Saturday as well as noise issues.

“This is fundamentally unfair,” Belisle said. “It will financially ruin us.”

But Greg DiMaria, the owner of West Delray Collision, said he is trying to be as neighborly as he can be. As for noise, he said all of the auto-body repair work will be done inside a concrete building.

The vacant land, which is in the Ag Reserve, had been zoned agricultural-residential but in 2017, at around the time GL began selling homes at Dakota, the county approved a zoning change to light industrial.

Donald Bryan said his family has owned the land for more than 50 years. He said future land use maps have designated the parcel as industrial ever since 1980.

“This property has right to be developed based on property rights,” Bryan said. “What is fair is fair.”

The opposition to the project is intense. Zoning staff received 66 comments in opposition; only 1 comment in support. Petitions with more than 515 signatures opposing the project were presented to the zoning board from parishioners at the nearby church and an on-line petition from 231 Dakota Homes’ residents.

Four Seasons HOA President Art Goldzweig testified against the project in July. He told The Post on that he was disappointed with the zoning commissioners. He said he can’t understand how the board could ignore the outcry of the residents and the parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace.

“This is shameful behavior,” Goldzweig said. “They should all resign.”

He was also disappointed with Alliance of Delray Residential Associations for supporting the project as long the concessions were made. This is not a project that the association should be supporting, he noted.


Source: Palm Beach Post

The Carolina Club, an 18-hole championship golf course in Margate, has served as a qualifying site for the PGA Honda Classic and is known for its fast, well-manicured greens and contoured fairways.

But the semi-private club, built in 1971, isn’t making the cut. Miami-based developer 13th Floor Homes plans to acquire the 140-acre facility and completely transform it into a 350-unit residential community, with single family homes and townhouses.

The proposed homes would cost about $300,000 to $400,000 each, meaning the developer stands to make more than $120 million in total sales. The current owner, J&D Golf Properties, would also stand to profit from the sale. It purchased the club in 2002 for $5.3 million.

The Carolina Club conversion is just one of several planned golf course redevelopments in South Florida, as golf operators weigh the rising expense of maintaining fairways and greens against the diminishing revenue. Couple that with the game’s waning popularity nationwide, and owning a golf course is now a risky proposition.

“Less people play golf, and those who do play are playing less rounds,” said Mike Nunziata, president of 13th Floor Homes. “Operators are having to cut rates to attract players. The industry is now in a place where the revenue just isn’t enough to cover the costs to maintain itself.”

His company has developed a niche business statewide for building residential communities on former golf courses. From the 1970s to the 1990s, the game experienced a rise in golf course construction — spiking in Florida — along with some residential communities nestled alongside. Nunziata said that development far exceeded demand.

Despite several closings, Florida still has the highest number of 18-hole golf courses in the country. And just in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, there are 177 18-hole equivalent golf course facilities, according to the National Golf Foundation. That’s down from 189 in 2007. But many others are barely hanging on, industry pros said.

“The golf courses were purely being built to sell the homes and support neighboring residential communities,” Nunziata said. “It was really more a real estate play and not so much a strategy that was centered around golf.”

In addition to his plans for Carolina Club, the developer is converting an 18-hole course in Delray Beach into Avalon Trails, a 521-unit residential community geared toward people 55 and older. Other projects in the works include a single-family home community over what are now two 18-hole golf courses in Tamarac.

In Hollywood, the Pulte Group is building 645 homes — including townhouses and single-family homes — at the former Hillcrest Golf & Country Club. The area covers 160 acres, and will rise over the 18- and 9-hole courses.

Atlanta-based Pulte is also developing 152 homes on nine of Woodmont Country Club’s 18 holes. It paid $10.2 million for the property in 2016.

But just as Tiger Woods appears to be on the comeback trail, the game itself has been evolving and companies are adapting to the next generation of fans and players. Topgolf, a Texas-based entertainment and technology-themed firm, has been establishing a presence in major commercial centers around the world, including Miami. At least five Topgolf facilities have either opened or are being planned in Florida. The first opened in Miami Gardens in 2016.

Investors are also considering other uses for all that golf course land. Soccer superstar and entrepreneur David Beckham is considering transforming the Melreese Country Club in Miami into a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium. Beckham and his partners, Marcelo Claure, Jorge and Jose Mas, and Simon Fuller have put the price tag at $200 million.

For Topgolf, facilities are typically three-story entertainment complexes that feature a driving range, restaurant and bar. The golf balls are microchipped so statistics like distance and accuracy can be tracked and translated into points for games.

In some cases, they’re being built on existing courses, as in West Palm Beach. There, a Topgolf facility will rise on the 196-acre West Palm Beach municipal golf course. And while it could be seen as a competitor to 18-hole courses, Topgolf says it works closely with institutions like the Professional Golfers’ Association to help some courses stay open.

Topgolf spokesperson Morgan Schaaf said Florida is a natural place for Topgolf to expand, which the company is doing at a rapid rate. Topgolf is aiming to open seven to 10 locations a year, she said. It’s also going international, with facilities planned for Australia, Canada and Mexico within the next five years. Schaaf added that half its customers are golf novices because the company makes it more accessible than a traditional course.

Despite Topgolf’s popularity, a love for the course is still strong in Florida. Developer Lennar had been under contract to build homes on the 212-acre Ocean Breeze Golf Club in Boca Raton, which shut down in 2016 after having lost money and members for years. But plans skidded into the rough amid opposition from Boca Teeca duffers who were left with no options.

Sunrise-based GL Homes had already acquired the nearby Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course for $65 million. It plans to replace the 27-hole, 194-acre course with a community of 500 homes.

Earlier this month, the city of Boca Raton and its Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District bought the 27-hole Ocean Breeze course for $24 million. The seller, Wells Fargo, seized the property through foreclosure. The renovated golf course, to be called the Boca Raton National Golf Club, is set to open in late 2019 or early 2020. It is expected to be a costly endeavor, up to $18 million to renovate and about $2.2 million per year to maintain.

“That kind of community effort appears to be an outlier,” said Brent Baker, Pulte’s Southeast Florida division president. “Only two kinds of golf courses will stay open in the future. The first is the one that requires membership fees, and the second is a public golf course that is subsidized by taxpayers, though even those — as seen with the Boca Raton municipal course — have great difficulty staying afloat. The math usually doesn’t add up. To keep a golf courses operating you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions of dollars a year.”


Source: The Real Deal

Sunrise-based GL Homes promised to donate land and money for the construction of new public schools if it wins approval of its proposal to build houses in Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve.

GL has approval to build 3,900 houses on a 4,900-acre tract called Indian Trails Grove. But instead, the company has proposed building houses outside of Indian Trails Grove in the county’s Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming zone west of Boynton Beach.

GL would use its land at Indian Trails Grove to meet the county requirements for building in the Agricultural Reserve, which require conservation of 60 acres for every 40 acres developed.

In a non-binding letter of intent, GL said if its proposal is approved, the company would donate $10 million and 105 acres of land for construction of a public high school and an elementary school. Its offer wouldn’t preclude GL from paying impact fees in connection with its housing development.


Source: The Real Deal