Several Florida developers have opened “beachfront” communities with abundant amenities along manmade lagoons.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Neal and Barb Shact’s home in the Beachwalk neighborhood has a water view even though the ocean is 17 miles away.
A 14-acre pool in the neighborhood contains 37 million gallons of water and is one amenity that master-planned communities are relying on to bring the beach to the suburbs.
Homes near lagoons or pools can cost less than beachside homes, and some prefer the homes near man-made bodies of water to the real beach. Uri Man, chief executive officer of The Lagoon Development Company, says, “We’re selling the idea that you are able to vacation right at home.”
Neal Shact says that their three-bedroom, 2,600-square-foot home cost $911,000. Since then, they’ve enlarged the patio, added an outdoor shower and made several other upgrades. He says the lagoon helps entertain his grandchildren, and their Beachwalk Club membership provides them with entertainment such as kayaks, paddle boards and social activities.
In June 2023, Tampa-based Metro Development Group opened a 15-acre lagoon with 35 million gallons of water, the largest in the U.S., at Mirada, a neighborhood that opened in 2020 in Pasco County.
Mirada’s 2023 sales were up 89% from 2022, according to the company, and traffic to the Welcome Center and home builders’ model homes increased by 40% from 2022. In July, sales at Mirada were 121% higher than in March, when the lagoon hadn’t yet opened, and 153% up from July 2022.
Metro says 47% of home buyers at Mirada rank the lagoon as the most important amenity or attribute for their buying decision.
In 2021, Dawn Curran-Tubb and Brian Wildman bought a four-bedroom, 3,500-square-foot house for $1 million at Epperson, a lagoon community in Wesley Chapel that Metro opened in 2017. Curran-Tubb said, “I couldn’t get the house I wanted for the money, and if I wanted to be able to retire early,” adding that “a lot of the houses on the beach were old or totally out of my price range.”
Source: Wall Street Journal (01/23/24) Rohwedder, Cecilie
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