The Indian River Shores Town Council last Thursday approved a conceptual plan for what likely will be the last large-scale residential development ever built in the well-to-do burg that occupies a 6-mile stretch of the barrier island.
The Patten Company, a national real estate development firm with offices in Naples and Boca Raton, plans 47 substantial single-family homes and 21 town homes on a parcel that extends from State Road A1A to the Indian River Lagoon, just north of Palm Island Plantation.
“The community will have a coastal contemporary style that should blend with our existing neighbors,” said Patten Vice President of Acquisitions Katherine Dobbins, who bird-dogged the property and managed the purchase.
“We will be selling lots as well as finished homes and are actively seeking local builders to join our preferred builder program, so that we will be able to offer several different models to buyers.
“We hope to break ground in early 2018,” she added.
Patten closed on the property June 30, paying $5 million for 34 acres of former grove land.
The seller was Charleston Estates Vero LLC, an entity of Philadelphia billionaire Brook Lenfest, whose company Beachlen Development was active in Vero until recently.
Clark French and Cindy O’Dare of Premier Estate Properties were the listing and selling agents on the deal.
When they got the listing, French and O’Dare used a database company to identify 4,000 builders and developers who had pulled permits for residential projects in Florida with construction cost of $1million or more, French said.
One of those companies was Patten, which has built more than 600 communities in 36 states and Canada, including nearly 50 in Florida, according to Dobbins.
“Vero has always been on our radar as a strong market in Florida,” Dobbins said.
Dobbins said the development, which will be called The Strand, represents “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for Patten.
“It is extremely rare to find a large parcel available in a developed and high-end area like Indian River Shores,” she wrote in an email to Vero Beach 32963.
“The recreational opportunities really make this project special. There will be private beach access across the street, boat docks on the Indian River, biking and jogging on the Jungle Trail as well as all of the nearby shops and restaurants that make this area so popular.”
“The timing is good,” said French.
“Inventory of new homes on the island is very low. Most of the projects now underway will likely sell out in the coming season, leaving buyers little to choose from, so the new homes at The Strand will be well-received.”
Patten’s property is the last large piece of development land available in The Shores.
The tract – originally a 41.5-acre ocean-to-river parcel – was assembled from grove land in 2004 as the real estate boom was ramping up and sold to McGough, a construction and development company headquartered in St. Paul, MN, for $16.5 million.
McGough hired Orlando planning and architecture powerhouse The Evans Group to design a high-end island community called Providence that would take full advantage of the gold-plated barrier-island location.
The plans were approved and buyers were putting down deposits on new homes, but the real estate market downturn came before any construction began and McGough put the project on hold.
The land lost value in the downturn and Lenfest’s Beachlen Development snapped it up in 2012 for $10.95 million, creating Charleston Estates Vero LLC as a holding company for the project.
“They bought it partially for land-banking purposes and partly to explore its development potential,” says French.
Lenfest’s development focus later shifted to Philadelphia where he is building two high-rise hotels and the property went back on the market.
Three years ago, in October 2014, island businesswoman Katherine McConvey bought the oceanfront part of the tract, paying $7,250,000 for acreage on the east side of A1A where she plans to build an ultra-luxurious modernist condo complex with 18 homes.
That left the western portion, which has 620 linear feet of river frontage along the historic Jungle Trail that Patten has now laid out as The Strand.
Dobbins said pricing for the new homes has not been decided on, but French speculated the town homes could start in the $700,000 to $800,000 range, a bargain these days for new construction in Indian River Shores.