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Charlotte-Lee-Collier
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 6 years ago

GL Homes sets sights on Bonita

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The Sunrise-based homebuilder purchased the Bonita Beach Road Estates development site for its first community in the city.

BUYER: GL Homes (Bonita Springs Associates I LLLP), Sunrise
SELLER: ACF 10-A Bonita LLC
PROPERTY: a portion of land south of Bonita Beach Road, east of Village Walk of Bonita Springs and west of Bonita National Golf & Country Club, Bonita Springs
PRICE: $56 million
PREVIOUS PRICE: $60.76 million, October 2005

Sunrise-based GL Homes has made a large investment for its future development in Bonita Springs. The homebuilder, already known for buying real estate aggressively in Southwest Florida, purchased 346.9 acres on Bonita Beach Road for $56 million.

An affiliate of The Ronto Group entitled the property in 2005, under the development name Bonita Beach Road Estates, for 1,200 residential units. The original development sought to create a highly amenitized lake frontage residential community on the site. Meritage Homes' financial backer, Acacia Capital Corp., purchased the property from the Ronto affiliate in 2005. But the vacant land has sat undeveloped.

GL Homes expects to start developing a single-family homes community there next year to open for sales in 2017. The firm says it will develop about 1,000 homes.

The homebuilders' plans sent to the city of Bonita Springs call the development The Reserve at Silverstone.

GL Homes bought the land, its first purchase in Bonita Springs, primarily because of the performance of its four current Southwest Florida communities, according to Patty Campbell, West Coast president of GL Homes. The firm has sold 150 homes in Fort Myers' Marina Bay, which opened in March; 243 homes in Marbella Isles in Naples, which opened in October; and 736 homes, 95%, of Riverstone in Naples in a little more than three years.

“All of Southwest Florida is doing very well,” Campbell says, “The core of Naples is pretty much built up. You can either head south to Marco Island or east to Ava Maria. This site puts us still in the core off of I-75. We feel it is a nice follow up to our Naples communities.”

Demand for new single-family homes in Bonita Springs has also risen. Data from the city of Bonita Springs' Community Development department shows single-family detached home permits increased 38.5% to 572 permits for the 12 months ended June 30.

The price per acre of $161,411 was at the top of the market, according to Randy Thibaut, owner and CEO of the prominent Fort Myers-based land brokerage Land Solutions Inc.
“The last time we saw this pricing was in 2005,” he says. “This was very optimistic pricing.”

But Campbell says the pricing comes from the attractiveness of the property and its location. The site is also immediately to the west of Lennar Homes' Bonita National Golf & Country Club, which opened in January.

“I know GL Homes will do a fantastic job with it,” says Anthony Solomon, executive vice president of The Ronto Group, which sold the homebuilder more than 550 acres of the TwinEagles development early last year. “Rather than the national builders that try to be in every market, they try to concentrate on certain markets. They know their customers in that area. They know the prices they can get. They will double or trouble down in those markets.”

The purchase entity, Bonita Springs Associates I LLLP, mortgaged the property to Florida Residential Funding LLC for $28 million.

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