12 Apr Old Oak Lane development now nearly half sold
Old Oak Lane – George Heaton’s boutique 10-home development in the heart of Old Riomar – took a while to get going, but it is rolling now, with four homes sold and three more sales hovering on the horizon, according to Heaton.
“We have several more buyers we are in discussion with,” Heaton says. “They have not signed contracts yet, but they appear to be very serious.”
A spec home Heaton built in the oak-shaded, golf-course subdivision and listed with Cindy O’Dare and Clark French of Premier Estate Properties sold two weeks ago, before the first open house could be held.
Norris & Company brought the buyer for that 5-bedroom, 5.5-bath, 3,843-square-foot house and one of the other sold properties. Kay Brown of Premier and Heaton’s own sales team brought the other two buyers.
“Old Oak Lane is selling quickly now that a few homes have been built,” says Cindy O’Dare. “It’s in one of the prettiest neighborhoods and best locations on the island.”
Heaton says the first four homes sold for prices ranging from $2.1 million to $2.8 million, with prices escalating according to the quality of the fairway view.
He is selling the remaining six properties as lot/home packages. Buyers close on the lot of their choice – $1 million to $1.3 million – and then put cash in escrow or take out a construction loan for the cost of the house.
The money for construction is released in eight draws as building proceeds. Heaton says loans are available for 3.5 percent to 4 percent interest that convert to fixed 30-year mortgage loans automatically when a certificate of occupancy is issued.
“There is no additional cost or verification,” says Heaton, developer of the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa and more than 100 other commercial and residential properties in Florida and other states.
Heaton has homes designed for each of the remaining lots, but if a buyer wants a different floorplan or elevation, his architects will work with them to customize the property and come up with a final price.
He says it takes a year from the time a contract is signed to deliver a finished luxury home – three months for permitting and design modifications, and nine months to build.
Heaton says his homes are attracting buyers in part because many people want new construction instead of resale property that will require renovation and upgrading, and there is little new construction available in Old Riomar, one of Vero’s most prestigious communities.
Lots in the subdivision are approximately half an acre and homes will have between 3,500 and 4,500 square feet of air-conditioned living space, with as much as 5,500 square feet under roof. Some homes will have guest houses.
“All the houses will have 3-car garages, pools, professional landscaping and approximately 1,200 square feet of outdoor living space,” Heaton says. “Local real estate agents are very excited about the floor plans.”
The 5.5-acre development is located on Club Drive on the former site of St. Edwards Lower School. Built in 1929 as a the clubhouse for Riomar Country Club, the Mediterranean Revival buildings were converted to an elementary and middle school when St. Edwards was founded in the 1960s. Several generations of Island kids were educated there before the campus fell victim to school budget problems and a bad economy and sat empty and bank-owned for two years.
Heaton acquired the property in 2012 and the Vero Beach City Council approved a preliminary site plan for the project in October of that year. Proctor construction demolished the old school buildings three years ago and completed site work, installing utilities and preparing the plated lots for construction, in the summer of 2013.
At that time, Heaton expected to sell lots to homeowners who would employ their own architects and builders for prices ranging from $795,000 to $1,295,000, with the lots furthest from Club Drive with the best golf course frontage going for the highest price.
The market was not quite ready for those lots at those prices, though, and the development sat empty until last year, when Heaton decided to build a spec home and pursue his current successful strategy.
“It has been a couple of years in the making,” Heaton said last year. “We have been waiting for the market to get stronger, as it now has. We think now is the time.”
Heaton has a second project underway on the island – a 38-home subdivision called Tarpon Flats about 10 miles south of Vero in St. Lucie County.
He acquired that 70-acre property two years ago from an Atlanta developer who started the project and saw it falter during the real estate downturn. Most of the property is wetland but Heaton is developing 15 acres that stretches from A1A to an inlet on the Indian River Lagoon.
Homes there start around $460,000. Fourteen have been sold since the grand opening last year, and three more are under contract.
Heaton also is gearing up for a luxury condo project in Islamorada in the Keys that he thinks will attract Vero buyers. “It will be 12 apartments with 3,000 square feet under air on the ocean, priced from $1.9 million to $2.5 million,” he says.