EAST COUNTY — As Kevin Daves drives through The Concession, it feels as though he’s hit a “reset” button.
Though the majority of the property remains untouched, earth is moving again.
Since Feb. 23, 19 home sites and one model home have sold in the luxury community at the eastern end of University Parkway.
Builders are preparing to break ground on models — set on what Daves calls “Builders’ Lane” — within 30 days for the community’s second phase.
“Everything’s in place,” said Daves, the community’s original developer. “It’s almost a better time (to build than during the real-estate boom).”
“There are a lot of developers who would have walked away from this,” he said, noting his company overcame financial hardship to push the project along. “I can’t do that.”
The vision Daves cast for the 1,240-acre Concession property — one now dotted with luxury homes amid a Florida scene of pine trees, live oaks and palmetto plants — is one that blends high-end, custom-home construction with an Old Florida feel uncommon to such developments.
“The land kind of told you what needed to happen (on it),” Daves says.
The community’s 234 home sites range from one-half to one acre, and homes are situated along preserve areas — separate from an award-winning golf course.
Daves says he’s always had three obligations: putting streets in the community, building a golf course and to build a clubhouse for residents. All of those elements have been completed.
Construction on the community’s first homes started in 2004; the famed 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course opened in 2006.
Daves later pursued building a high-end clubhouse, despite economic changes.
“I felt like when the market came back, (we’d be in good shape if all those things were in place),” Daves said.
When development of The Concession first began, Daves and his company, Concession Land Development — a joint venture between Daves, his company Core Development and New York-based Property Markets Group — worked out a deal with Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to secure land and take on the extra $3 million expense of building University Parkway west from Lorraine Road so The Concession could have a second access for its future 234 homes. They’d previously planned for the main entrance to be off State Road 70.
“We felt it was probably a positive impact (to the community),” Daves said.
The Concession’s birth went quickly, with more than 110 lots selling in the project’s first phase. At that time, home sites were selling for $1.3 million, Daves said. The Concession’s second phase opened just before the real-estate market took a drastic hit in 2007; only six homes had been sold. After that, everything seemed to stand still.
Developers fell behind on the mortgage payment for phase two, and the financial institution backing the project opted not to renew the loan. Daves and his partners worked hard to avoid foreclosure, bringing in an outside investment group to pay off the loan for the remaining 113 lots in December. Concession Land Development now has a buyback on all the lots over a period of time, Daves said.
With financing in order, the company has secured a team of builders to carry forward the community’s development.
Anchor Builders, Arthur Rutenburg Homes, Holiday Group, John Cannon Homes, John Neal Homs and Lee Whetherington Homes should break ground on models on a stretch called “Builders’ Lane” by the end of May, likely sooner.
Only two of those builders — John Cannon Homes and Anchor Builders — built in The Concession’s first phase. Many of the other original builders went out of business, Daves said.
Daves smiles as he thinks about a prediction he made two years ago: a shortage of lots would evolve in the market.
The prediction is one reaching fulfillment, particularly for larger half-acre or larger properties.
“People sat on the sidelines for so long, and they realize (now is a good time to buy),” Daves said. “The stock market is high. We have low interest rates. It’s a little bit of a perfect storm.”
Plus, prospective homebuyers now can purchase lots in The Concession for as low as $199,000.
“We expect to sell out in three years (if this pace keeps up),” Daves said.
Daves says this “perfect storm” has more checks and balances in place than the one that occurred during the recent boom years — and that’s a good thing.
“None of us wants to go back to the hyper building (activity),” Daves says. “We’re in much better shape now.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Click here to view a site plan of the project.