Article Courtesy of The Sun
By Paul Owers
Published September 25, 2016
About 600 people turned out Wednesday to hear a developer's
pitch to build a housing community on a former golf course at the Villages of
Oriole, west of Delray Beach.
Miami-based 13th Floor Homes wants to build 528 units in a gated development
called Avalon Trails. The mix would include 108 single-family homes, 180
townhomes and 240 condominiums or rentals.
The developer insists the project would enhance Villages of Oriole and improve
property values, though some residents are concerned it would block views and
disrupt their quality of life.
Mike Nunziata, division president for 13th Floor, estimated the new homes would
be priced from the $200,000s to the $500,000s. He stressed that Avalon Trails
would remove the uncertainty surrounding the land and bring fewer than half of
the 1,200 units that are approved for the 107-acre site now.
"We think this truly is the best option for all involved," he told the crowd
gathered at the clubhouse at Huntington Lakes within the Villages of Oriole.
The 55-and-older community off Atlantic Avenue near Florida's Turnpike is made
up of 3,742 condos, townhomes and villas.
Some residents who oppose Avalon Trails said the land should be preserved.
"Instead of shoving another development down our throats, let's make it a place
for everybody to enjoy," Villages of Oriole resident Sheila Allecca said.
Others were more supportive. They said the land eventually will be sold to
somebody and insisted that 13th Floor's proposal is responsible and realistic.
"These people know what they're doing," resident T.J. Frankfort said. "It's
During the presentation, Nunziata said 13th Floor would build Avalon Trails as a
55-and-older community, though it wouldn't restrict others from living there.
However, he later agreed to reconsider when Villages of Oriole residents said
they preferred that it not be open to all ages.
Builders are targeting old golf courses for redevelopment due to land
constraints across South Florida.
Recreational golf is on the decline because the sport can be expensive and
time-consuming, residents and industry analysts say. Courses are closing as
declining membership fees fail to support the cost of maintenance.
Pulte Group is planning 645 homes on two former golf courses at the Hillcrest
Golf & Country Club in Hollywood. Lennar Corp. is looking to build on a Boca
Raton course, while GL Homes is planning 470 homes and apartments on parts of
two courses at the Fountains Country Club, west of Lake Worth.
In Tamarac, 13th Floor recently completed Central Parc, a 253-home community on
a former golf course at Commercial Boulevard and the turnpike. The company also
is building two other communities on former courses nearby.
The 18-hole course at Villages of Oriole closed in 2014 and, Nunziata said, 13th
Floor has a contract to buy it from the Vitale family.
In addition to buying the course, the builder would pay the Oriole Village
Center master condo association $3.7 million in impact fees, according to
Jeff Schultz, president of Oriole Village Center, said the fairways are being
maintained but that other parts of the course are overgrown. It isn't
financially feasible to turn the site back into a golf course, so it's best to
support a conscientious development plan, he said.
"You can go along with it and help shape it, or you can fight it and eventually
succumb to it," Schultz said.
Nunziata said 13th Floor will make a series of presentations to all 12 Villages
of Oriole condo associations in the coming months. The residents are expected to
vote on the plan in early 2017.
If the project is approved, the builder would begin seeking the necessary
approvals from Palm Beach County, Nunziata said. He added that sales likely
would start in 2018, and the first homes would be under construction by 2019.
If Avalon Trails doesn't win support, 13th Floor could still go through with the
sale of the course and revise the proposal, Nunziata said.
Before Wednesday's meeting, Lois Manning, a four-year resident of Villages of
Oriole, said she was opposed to the project. She feels better after hearing 13th
Floor's presentation, though she remains concerned about the effect Avalon
Trails would have on the entire community.
"It may be very beautiful," Manning said, "but I'm not looking forward to the
excess traffic, that's for sure."