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New home developer coming to Sun City Center

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By MELODY JAMESON
mj@observernews.net

   SUN CITY CENTER – Like many residents coming here from other parts, a Canadian-grown home builder transplanted to Florida decades ago is poised to become the retirement community’s eighth – and probably last – developer.
   Minto Communities, LLC, an Ottawa company which moved into the Florida market some 20 years ago, is to close a purchase transaction with WCI Communities on June 22, giving it buildable land for 800 to 1,000 new homes in several neighborhoods of SCC and Kings Point.    The Minto acquisition does not include any of the existing amenities in either community and the incoming home builder does not assume any warranty responsibilities for previously built houses under terms of the sale.
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Michael Belmont, Minto VP.
Melody Jameson photo
   This overview was offered by two Minto representatives, Michael Belmont, executive vice president, and William Bullock, vice president overseeing the West Central Florida region, during a SCC Community Association meeting last week.
   Of the total number of dwellings yet to be built, approximately half are foreseen as single family homes in several of the master plan units on SCC’s south side, Bullock said, while the other half is to be in the villa format, two dwellings to a structure, in Kings Point. And, while the interiors of the new homes may be arranged in differing configurations, appearances will be consistent with present neighboring housing stock, he added. The Minto focus accentuates great rooms and kitchens, the executive noted.
   The single family dwellings are expected to range in square footage from the high 1400s to 2200 and to price out between $180,000 to $300,000, he said. New KP villas are anticipated to run from $150,000 to $200,000 in sizes ranging from the high 1300s to 1700 square feet.
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William Bullock, Minto VP/Central Florida.
Melody Jameson photo
   On SCC’s south side, Minto’s proposed purchase includes an estimated 54 undeveloped lots in Unit 271, 55 lots in Unit 272 and another 21 buildable homesites in Unit 276 – all of which already are platted and where zoning allows four to six homes per acre, Paul Wheat, longtime CA leader recently retired, pointed out following the company presentation. But, Wheat added, two additional units, 274 and 275 which encompass the former Ben Sutton Golf School property contiguous with SCC’s Renaissance section, total a little over 60 acres and have not been platted out.
   Asked about the possibility of more, higher density multi-family  housing in that area of the community, Bullock asserted that, from the current market perspective, Minto sees only single family housing on those parcels at the four or six-per-acre density. Its acquisition from WCI gives his company a total of 1,400 entitlements, Bullock said, but this is greater density than the company plans to use.
   In addition, the estimated SCC half of potential new housing in the projected 800 to 1,000 range dovetails with provisions of the “Letter of Credit” that accompanies the multi-faceted “1984 Agreement,” critical documents that have guided developer-community leadership interactions for the last 25 years. The LOC calls for developer compensation for new homes to be built conveyed in advance to the CA to help its directors operate the network of amenities and campuses that serve the recreational interests of all current and incoming CA member residents. That compensation for the not-yet-built dwellings in SCC proposed by Minto previously was provided to the CA by WCI.
   Regarding the company’s timetable to implement its SCC development plans, Bullock said Minto soon will establish its local offices, probably in the former WCI new home sales center on the south side of S.R. 674, east of I-75. However, the unplumbed model houses WCI built into the sales center will not become Minto models, he added. Minto plans to build several samples of its homes as models but spotted across the retirement community, the area VP said, adding he could not yet pinpoint specific sites.
   By early fall, Bullock said his company would begin gearing up “soft sales” or presales of its housing stock and kick off a promotional campaign featuring all of Sun City Center. Plans also are in the works for a formal grand opening as the holiday season approaches, probably scheduled in November, he added.
   Minto, founded in Canada and building in both the Ottawa and Toronto areas, has been involved with a long list of residential communities on Florida’s East Coast as well as a growing list on the Gulf Coast, Belmont emphasized. The company has built single family housing in sections of Lakewood Ranch, the huge community near the Manatee-Sarasota County line as well as in southeast Hillsborough’s massive FishHawk Ranch and at Tampa’s Grand Hampton. Many of its communities are featured on its website, www.mintofla.com.
Bullock said Minto considers SCC “always a top performer” throughout its 50-year history and pointed to 300 resales of homes across its various neighborhoods in 2009 during a market downturn as testament to its continued desirability.   
   As for completed build-out, Bullock noted a good estimate involving fewer than 1,000 new homes would be five to eight years.
© 2010 Melody Jameson
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