LAND O' LAKES — The nation's largest home builder now owns a large piece of central Pasco.
Lennar acquired more than 2,900 acres from the Bexley family's Angeline Corp. for $23.65 million earlier this year, according to property records. The land, east of the Suncoast Parkway and south of State Road 52, is separate from the existing Bexley developments.
"We are in the early stages of imagining the possibilities for this property, but we know that we want it to be more than just another development,'' said Mark Metheny, president of Lennar's central Florida division, in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "Ever since this land was first offered for sale several years ago, its potential as an important part of the future of Pasco County has been clear.''
Lennar already builds single-family homes in a dozen Pasco County communities including in Bexley by Newland Communities.
That project, known colloquially as Bexley South, sits on 1,733 acres that front the north side of State Road 54. Its entitlements include 520 apartments that are now under construction, 1,200 single-family homes, and nearly 660,000 square feet of commercial and office space. It is home to a new stand-alone emergency room from Florida Hospital and a 110-room Springhill Suites by Marriott that is under construction.
To the north is land for a separate county-approved master development known as Bexley North. Its 5,442 acres remain undeveloped, but could include more than 11,000 homes, 600 apartments and more than 800,000 square feet of stores and offices.
At one time, the Bexley Ranch covered 15,000 acres in Land O' Lakes. Family members listed the 6,400-acre Angeline land, bordered by the CSX rail line on the east and the parkway to the west, for sale in November 2015. Lennar formed a new company, Len-Angeline, in the summer of 2017 to acquire a portion of the land, and the transaction closed Jan. 31.
Angeline Corp. retains ownership of other parcels and is using Avison Young in Miami to market property at the southeast corner of SR 52 and the parkway. That site contains a shuttered building that formerly housed a Florida Highway Patrol barracks.
"The time was right for the family to sell off some of their land holdings, yet remain rooted in the community. They retain a significant amount of SR 52 frontage, including a cornerstone of the contemplated master planned project – a mixed-use node at the Suncoast Parkway interchange,'' said Michael Fay, Avison Young's principal and managing director in Miami, in an emailed statement. "Fantastic projects are taking shape in this area because of Lennar's presence."
Lennar's newly purchased property, north and west of the Bexley North site, includes no development entitlements. Metheny said the company looked "forward to engaging with a range of visionaries, civic leaders and the public, because we all have the opportunity to create a new community that (is) smartly planned, walkable, pays homage to the natural landscape and benefits everyone in Pasco County and the region overall."
Part of the property's attraction is the expanding road network. The state Department of Transportation will widen two-lane SR 52 to six lanes from the parkway east to U.S. 41 beginning next year at a cost of $48 million. Separately, the widening of two-lane U.S. 41 from Connerton north to SR 52 is scheduled to begin the following year.
At more than 2,900 acres, Lennar's site is comparable to the 2,500-acre Starkey Ranch development on SR 54 in Odessa. Its neighbors further east would include the 8,000-acre Connerton development on U.S. 41.
"It's going to be a good one that's for sure,'' real estate agent Terri Dusek said about the Lennar project. Dusek is past president of the Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce, "We're excited about it.''
Reach C.T. Bowen at email@example.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2