‘The Reserve’ keeps Grand Harbor renaissance going


The Reserve at Grand Harbor, where construction started five months ago, is moving forward rapidly and residents will move into big, beautiful new homes late this year.

“We opened for sales about the same time we started building and have already sold 10 homes at an average price of $1.9 million, even though we don’t have a model home completed yet,” GHO Homes president Bill Handler told Vero Beach 32963 last week.

Ten homes are more than 25 percent of GHO’s 38-home first phase at The Reserve, where new houses with swimming pools range from 2,800 to 3,600 square feet under air and from 4,370 to 5,000 square feet under roof, including 3-car garages and large, covered patios.

Handler, who had to raise his voice to be heard over the whine of circular saws and bang of hammers during an interview at the subdivision, will build another 35 to 40 houses in an adjoining second phase that hasn’t been plated yet.

In addition, there are 21 occupied homes at the front of the subdivision that were built by the prior developer.

“Bill Handler has a great reputation in Vero at this point. He doesn’t need a model to sell because people can see his work all over town,” said Suzanne Curry, a member of the Rita Curry Team at Dale Sorensen Real Estate.

Asked why he decided to buy and complete the partially developed subdivision, Handler answered with two words: “Grand Harbor!”

“My first impression of Vero Beach from years ago before we started building here came from ads I saw promoting Grand Harbor,” said Handler, who never forgot the glowing images.

“We’re here because of the way the place has come back to life, the economics they’ve put into it. The quality of the golf courses, the remodeled beach club, the social life and friendships that come with a country club lifestyle are all huge selling points. You can’t find another place to build with these kinds of amenities already in place.

“Every house we sell here comes with a sports membership in the club,” Handler added. “We pay the initiation fee, which is a big number, but it’s worth it because it attracts buyers.

“It is mutual support that is good for everyone. The club gets new members and more money to continue upgrading and improving everything and we get to offer our buyers all these amenities.”

“Bill Handler is a super-duper guy, and we are thrilled to be working with GHO Homes,” said Grand Harbor Club general manager Michael Gibson. “They’re not only selling beautiful homes, they are also selling our lifestyle.

“They decided to build in the community because of the success of the club since the members took over in January 2021, and now they’re adding to that success with new houses and members. It all fits together beautifully.”

Handler entered the Grand Harbor market in February 2022, when he paid $4.2 million for 42 finished lots in The Falls, a subdivision near The Reserve where smaller homes on smaller lots start at $661,500.

GHO has a handful of lots remaining in The Falls along with 10 inventory homes that range from 1,900 to 2,500 square feet and are priced from $711,000 to $877,000. GHO homes in The Falls also come with club memberships.

Handler, who has eight active subdivisions in Indian River County, expanded his Grand Harbor operations last September when he purchased 31 acres in The Reserve for $17 million. That included 38 finished lots in the first phase, where his crews were able to start work as soon as they got building permits, and a 19-acre unplatted section.

Handler bought both properties from GH Vero Beach Development LLC, a Carl Icahn entity that sold off its remaining development land in Grand Harbor after Icahn gave up control of the club to members who accused his company of letting the club fall into disrepair.

GHO is offering five models and seven floorplans at the Reserve. The homes have three or four bedrooms, three and a half or four and a half baths, three-car garages and swimming pools. They sit on large lots that average a third of an acre.

“The scale of the homes is another thing that is attracting buyers,” Handler said. “There is an estate-like quality to the houses and you can’t find lots this size. Instead of a 40-foot building pad, we have 60 feet of width and a lot of depth.”

Prices start at $1,622,990 for a 2,800-square-foot Oakmont model and go up to $1,882,990 for a 3,600-square-foot Riviera model. Handler said many upgrades and luxury features are included at that price.

“This is a big price point for the mainland, and we are trying to do something fairly all-inclusive so that people don’t have to pay for a lot of upgrades.”

At the same time, Handler is ready and willing to customize the homes to give each buyer exactly what they want in their Florida dream home.

“It is pretty standard in the industry for salespeople and builders to say no to changes,” Handler said. “They like to say no – ‘no we don’t do that. This is what we do,’” because it is easier to build production models.

“My mantra is to try and say yes, first. Especially on these homes, which stretch our price point upward. It is worth it to us to stop and listen and figure out how to make the changes that give customers what they want.”

“GHO is known to be very flexible and easy to work with when it comes to options,” said Curry. “When people buy a new house, especially at this price, they expect to be able to make changes to suit their taste and lifestyle, and Bill Handler has it down when it comes to that.

He really does. That is one reason why he is doing so well.”

GHO has a model and three inventory homes under construction, priced from $1,854,502 to $2,124,464 with luxury upgrades and options.

Prior to the pandemic boom, homes over $1 million were virtually unheard of on the mainland, but today Handler’s prices appear to be a bargain compared to sale prices of nearby, comparable existing homes.

As an example, a home at the front of The Reserve that was built by the Icahn builder sold last summer for $1,950,000. It is the same size as Handler’s largest model and sits on the same size lot but got a certificate of occupancy in 2019, which makes it five years old, compared to Handler’s brand new, utterly up-to-code and of the moment houses.

In the River Club subdivision, which sits next door to The Reserve, just across a narrow stretch of fairway, there have been two sales of comparable homes at or above $2 million so far this year, one built in 2019, the other in 2004.

“I would tell you that a new-built home [close to the water] is hard to find in that price range,” said Curry.

Handler said half of his buyers so far are local residents who are selling older homes to buy a new house in The Reserve, gaining all the advantages of new construction, such as low maintenance, lower insurance costs and the latest in luxury materials and design.

The Reserve’s location, too, adds value to GHO’s new homes. Harbor Point, a small shopping center with restaurants, services and a big Publix grocery store, is two blocks away.

Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and the hundreds of medical offices around it are a five-minute drive.

And when new residents move in later this year, they will find they are only a few minutes away from Vero’s quaint island village and miles of clean, uncrowded Atlantic Ocean beaches.

Comments are closed.