WCI building 109 homes in Parkland’s Heron Bay

Capitalizing on robust demand for new homes, WCI Communities Inc. is launching another neighborhood in the Heron Bay development of Parkland.

Osprey Lake will feature 109 homes priced from the mid-$500,000s to the mid-$700,000s. The homes will have four or five bedrooms, bonus rooms, courtyards and covered porches.

Construction has not yet started, and WCI said it will release the homes for sale in phases. Buyers can add their names to a priority list by calling the welcome center at 954-340-2679.

Heron Bay, started by WCI in 1995, has more than 3,000 homes on 1,100 acres. In 2011, WCI began building 196 homes in the Somerset and Sawgrass Bay neighborhoods. All but three have sold.

South Florida’s housing picture has improved dramatically following a six-year downturn. Rising prices have restored lost equity to existing homeowners who now are looking to sell and enter the market as “move up” buyers.

“There are a lot of folks who have just been sitting there, waiting to make their moves,” said Lewis Goodkin, an industry consultant.

Heron Bay is on Coral Ridge Parkway, west of Florida’s Turnpike. The Osprey Lake homes will be built directly across the street from Plaza del Lago, the development’s 23,000-square-foot clubhouse.

About two dozen buyers have signed contracts for Osprey Lake homes, and WCI will release six lots a month for sale over the next year, said Paul Erhardt, a senior vice president for the builder. The first homes will be ready by the spring or summer of 2014.

“We’re trying to balance demand with how quickly the homes can be built,” Erhardt said. “We haven’t had to do a lot of marketing to create interest.”

Next year, WCI will start selling a 106-home neighborhood in Heron Bay, a project that should complete residential construction in the master-planned community, Ehrhardt said.

Osprey Lake is part of a building boom in Parkland, one of the last areas left in Broward County for new homes.

WCI, Lennar Corp., Standard Pacific Homes and Toll Brothers are planning roughly 1,500 homes in Parkland during the next few years.

Standard Pacific said more than 3,000 people attended last weekend’s opening of the sales center at Watercrest at Parkland. The 450-home project is on land known as “The Wedge,” which the city annexed in 2009.

“As a city, we’ve been expecting this growth and we’ve been trying to plan for it,” Parkland Mayor Michael Udine said.

Bonita Springs-based WCI helped develop Coral Springs and Parkland in the 1980s and ’90s. In 1998, WCI bought nearly 15,000 acres, mostly in northern Palm Beach County, from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

But like other builders, WCI suffered amid the housing bust. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008 and exited a year later.

At the time, some residents wanted the city to ban WCI, citing allegations in court documents that the builder knowingly sold homes with tainted Chinese drywall. But Parkland officials said there was no legal way to keep WCI from building in Heron Bay.

In July, WCI announced an initial public offering of 8.4 million shares. The stock, listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WCIC, closed Thursday at $16.38, down 20 cents.

Powers@tribune.com, 561-243-6529 or Twitter @paulowers.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/fl-wci-homes-20130815,0,2796274.story?track=rss

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