Oak Harbor, which has been on an upswing since it was purchased by Dylan Investments in 2015, got another boost in August when GHO Homes bought the remaining 23 lots with the intention of building out the community in the next few years.
“We really need the new inventory,” says Stacey Morabito, a broker associate with Dale Sorensen Real Estate, the powerhouse Vero brokerage that took over sales in the community in 2017.
Morabito says the company had more than 20 listings when it opened its sales office in the active adult community adjacent to Grand Harbor but now has just a handful, and not enough to meet demand.
“We have people walking in here every day asking what is available,” and walking out disappointed because the home they want is not on the market, according to Morabito.
GHO will offer four models in Oak Harbor, including the company’s popular Magnolia model that was a hit at Lily’s Cay, the sold-out GHO community half a mile south of Oak Harbor on Indian River Boulevard.
Besides the Magnolia, there will be another large single-family home model, in the 2,600-to-3,000-square-foot range, and two “cottages” starting around 2,200 square feet.
GHO and Sorensen will announce the models and specific pricing in November. In the meantime, GHO president Bill Handler says cottages will start at around $400,000, while the larger single-family homes will start at approximately $600,000, priced in the same range as existing large single-family homes in the development.
“We are working to develop specific plans that incorporate our existing features and options while ensuring that we match the look and feel of the current homes in Oak Harbor,” Handler said in a statement to Vero Beach 32963. “We are planning to release our homes for sale in November, with models and spec homes to begin construction in early 2020.”
“GHO builds a great product and the homes in Oak Harbor will have very high-end finishes,” says Morabito, who will be the listing agent for the new houses.
Oak Harbor originally was the senior living wing of Grand Harbor, when both communities were owned by a Carl Icahn subsidiary.
California-based Dylan Investments, which bought the community in late 2015, describes itself as “a real estate investment firm that focuses on the restoration, renovation and repositioning of distressed commercial and residential properties throughout the United States and internationally … [focusing] on creating intrinsic value for all parties in a transaction, including investors, business districts and communities. Our mantra for the last 20 years has been to find the best mismatches between price and value and use this imbalance to return profit to our investors.”
Dylan Investments Acquisition Manager James Stevens said in 2015 that Oak Harbor was undervalued and that the company would retrieve that value by making upgrades to the community and restarting development.
A key change came with the creation of a new membership structure that made it possible for people to join the Oak Harbor Club and enjoy various menus of benefits and amenities for significantly less money than previously.
According to Morabito and Dale Sorensen managing partner Dale Sorensen Jr., that one change went a long way toward reviving interest in the community and kick-starting existing home sales.
“It was a tough decision to lower membership costs,” says Sorensen. “It wasn’t popular at the time but it is now. It was what was best for the club.”
Since the change, membership has increased from about 100 to 165, according to club general manager Art Spilios.
Oak Harbor already had a strong package of amenities before the change in ownership, including golf, tennis, swimming pool, fitness center, a 42,000-square-foot clubhouse with a reputation for gourmet dining, “a wide variety of events through the year including dinner parties, holiday events, dancing, galas, performance acts and shows,” a custom wellness program run by a registered nurse who creates a tailored exercise and wellness regimen for individual members, and Somerset House, a 24-bed assisted living facility exclusively for Oak Harbor members.
Since taking over the community, Dylan Investments has added six more rooms to Somerset House and is now building an adjacent 30-bed memory care facility, making it possible for members to age in place no matter what occurs, going from active, independent living to assisted care to memory care, if every needed.
The club now also offers yoga, a walking trail and a dog park. A croquet court is coming soon and the club has reciprocal arrangements with a number of other country clubs in the area that extend members recreational opportunities.
Oak Harbor is a country club community with 60 condominiums and 140-plus single-family homes.
The new GHO homes will increase the size of the community by more than 10 percent, giving every aspect of club life a substantial shot in the arm.
“You get a lot for your money at Oak Harbor,” Morabito says.