Lake Wales Housing Land Rush shows no signs of slowing down


The rush to develop housing in Lake Wales shows no signs of slowing down as new proposals continue to come before the Lake Wales City Commission. Tuesday’s agenda saw the approval of an annexation that will pave the way for a 90-acre residential development south of the Eastlake Center, which is home to Winn-Dixie and Rural King.

The proposed annexation of 62 acres will join them with 29 others already under the same ownership group. If approved for medium-density residential development, the site could add several hundred additional units to the more than 8,000 already envisioned in final and preliminary plans submitted to the City’s Development Services Division.

While there are many competing interests offering new housing developments within the city limits, no one can predict the rate at which new homes will be built and sold. This will be determined solely by the market. Local housing prices have risen beyond affordability for many due to high demand.

“It’s crazy right now,” admitted the local Real estate agent Anne Lazzari from Westlake Realty, telling the story of a 3 bedroom, two bath home that went on sale for a price “50 to 100,000 over what it would fetch last year”. He was placed on the multiple ads service and received an offer within 13 minutes. A small 2/1 house was sold within days for a price higher than what a young electrician who had previously commuted to work at Frostproof from Clermont was asked, she added.

The four newly annexed properties, owned by Hunt Brothers, Inc., CBD Real Estate Investments, LLC, Richard McKinley and the estate of Vivian Pennachio, surround several properties already located within the city limits and owned by some of the same group of them. owners.

“It sounds more like euphoria,” Lazzari said of the local scramble for land. “It is hard to believe” that so many houses will be built in Lake Wales. Still, many in the industry agree that the demand is real, as house prices nationwide have risen sharply.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, median home prices in Florida have increased 18.9% in the past 12 months, faster than the national average. In the Tampa market, that figure is 21.2%. Prices are currently increasing at the fastest rate since 2006.

Robert connors

Pyramid Homes is putting the finishing touches to three new residences on Osceola Avenue as housing prices have skyrocketed.

With ‘telecommuting’ growing in popularity since the Covid-19 pandemic forced many offices into virtual operations, home builders are taking advantage of the current nationwide housing shortage, capturing plots of prime development around Lake Wales. There are fewer such stretches closer to the urbanized markets of Orlando and Tampa.

Development at densities attractive to builders generally requires annexation, as the city is able to provide potable water and sewer services, which allows for smaller lots.

City commissioner and deputy mayor Robin Gibson has been reluctant to approve development that the City cannot properly serve with sewers. It was the only vote on Tuesday night against a future land use map change for a development project north of Mammoth Grove Road that would see 95 homes built on quarter-acre land with septic tanks . The developer is also offering a commercial enclave called the “Neighborhood Activity Center” for the intersection of Mammoth Grove and Masterpiece Roads.

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