How hot is the housing market? These West Boca homes could reel in billions in sales

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And amid a scorching housing market, that bet is set to pay off in a major way as more than 2,200 proposed homes could generate more than $2 billion in sales — and likely much, much more.

The homes also could provide Palm Beach County with an economic boost from the resulting increase to the county tax base.

GL Homes is in the midst of a three-pronged plan that would add three gated, upscale communities to the West Boca area:

  • More than 520 luxury homes will soon be built on a 189-acre golf course by Glades Road and Florida’s Turnpike.
  • A 679-home development will be constructed on farmland near Glades Road, in between State Road 7 and Lyons Road.
  • A proposed 1,000-home community would be built on farmland by Clint Moore Road and west of State Road 7.

The surge in development comes amid the increased demand for luxury properties as wealthy people from out of state have flocked to South Florida for more space and year-round sunny weather. Beth Rappaport, president of the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations, said she hasn’t seen this many new housing projects being developed at the same time since 2001-05, when a number of new communities were built.

“I think this is unique,” Rappaport said. “I think the [recession in the late 2000s] put the brakes on a lot of stuff and what we’re looking at now is a combination of things.

“We’re catching up and at the same time, we have all these new residents coming into the area, so it’s kind of two things happening at the same time.”

A construction worker walks through lumber at Valencia Sound in Boynton Beach on May 24, 2021. The development was overseen by GL Homes.

A construction worker walks through lumber at Valencia Sound in Boynton Beach on May 24, 2021. The development was overseen by GL Homes. (Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

The proposed developments come on the heels of two major housing projects from GL Homes: Boca Bridges and Lotus. The two private communities, which opened in 2019, added more than 1,300 homes in West Boca, generating nearly $900 million in sales, according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office.

Boca Bridges and Lotus also added more than $583 million to the county’s $222 billion tax base, the Property Appraiser’s Office said.

GL Homes Vice President Kevin Ratterree told county commissioners the 1,000-home development would result in a $500 million boost to the county’s tax base. GL Homes did not provide financial projections on the other two developments.

Prior to the pandemic, the demand for those luxury properties was already high, with Lotus holding lotteries for prospective homeowners.

That means the prices will likely continue to soar for the new West Boca properties. GL Homes announced on its website that prices for its new Lotus Palm Beach property, which will be located on the old golf course, will range from $1.3 million to $2.5 million. The community will feature between 525 to 539 homes, Ratterree has said.

Prices on the other two developments, which are being built on farmland, have yet to be determined. GL Homes’ properties have usually started on the low end in the mid-to-high six figures. Lotus lists its homes between $1.1 million and $1.4 million. Boca Bridges has multiple homes currently listed at more than $3 million, including one property listed at $6.35 million.

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Ryan Greenblatt, a broker for Lang Realty who specializes in luxury products in West Boca, said that in addition to the weather and space, these communities are especially attractive for people moving to Florida due to amenities like clubhouses, restaurants, tennis courts, backyards and garages, which may not be available in other states.

“I’ve been doing this for 21 years in the area,” Greenblatt said. “I think the difference this time is it’s not just people from New York and New Jersey. I’ve had clients from almost every state in the Union. There are tons of people from California. From Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut – you name it, they’re coming.

“And they’re coming with money. So relative for a California buyer, $2 million is not expensive. To us, it’s a big number. To them, it’s cheap.”

West Boca has emerged as a prime destination for developers due to the vast swaths of farmland west of Florida’s Turnpike. The need for housing, combined with the vast open farmland in West Boca, has created a perfect storm for developers looking to capitalize, said Ellen Winikoff, vice president of the West Boca Community Council, an organization that represents hundreds of homeowners associations across the region.

“At some point, the farmers who can’t farm there anymore because it’s not profitable or manageable for them are looking to sell their land and developers are able to purchase that,” Winikoff previously told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Bit by bit, acre by acre, [farmers] have sold their property to survive and that’s their property and their right.”

The 679-home project received county approval in January, but no timeline has been given yet on when the development will be built. The 1,000-home development narrowly received preliminary approval earlier in February but will need at least one more approval later this year.

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