Sun Terra buys balance of Starwood's 11,000-acre Harmony project for $24M

Harmony encompasses 11,000 acres, including two private lakes, an established network of parks and trails, and a golf course.


Laura KinslerContact ReporterGrowthSpotter

Oviedo-based Sun Terra Communities will take over as master developer of Harmony -- a neo-traditional golf course community spanning 11,000 acres on Osceola County's E192 corridor -- after buying all of the remaining assets from Starwood Land Ventures.

Sun Terra principal Richard Jerman told GrowthSpotter his investors paid $24.25 million on Wednesday for the massive project to satisfy the growing demand for housing in the St. Cloud/Narcoossee market.

"We feel like the market is starting to come into its time," Jerman said. "It's been around for a while, but it hasn't had the kind of success we think it could have. Now is the right time."

Harmony was originally approved as a DRI in 1992 and was entitled for up to 7,200 single-family and multifamily homes, as well as a mix of commercial, office and light industrial uses. The community includes two private lakes and features its own golf course and town center.

Starwood rescinded the DRI in 2016. 

The green-certified community even has a pedestrian tunnel under U.S. 192 linking the neighborhood to Harmony High School, and to a new middle school that will open in 2019.

Sun Terra's acquisition includes the golf course, town center and more than 5,800 home entitlements across multiple phases, of which 500 are in Harmony Main -- the focus of current development. More than half of those residential lots are under contract to CalAtlantic, which launched an active adult community there in 2016. 

Jerman said Sun Terra plans to kick the Harmony West expansion into high gear with construction starting in the next six months. Starwood initiated the permitting for Harmony West last year and already has approved plans for Phase 1. 

"We see an immediate opportunity in Harmony West," he said. "It will contain about 1,600 units and a small amount of commercial. There’s an approved plan, but we have the opportunity to do something different."

Jerman believes Harmony West can help satisfy demand from home buyers that have been priced out of the Narcoossee corridor.

"There is a desire for more affordable housing, and we think we can provide that in Harmony West," he said. "We're not talking about starter homes. But you used to be able to find a single-family home on the Narcoossee corridor in the $225,000 to $250,000 range. It's all escalated now into the $300,000s. We're a little farther out, so we can meet that price point."

In addition to the CalAtlantic project, Harmony Main offered homes by Lennar, Meritage, Richmond American Homes, D.R. Horton and Regatta. 

"Harmony Main is an established community," Jerman said. "We have visited with most of the significant builders in the marketplace and said what do you want to see in Harmony West? We have multiple LOIs."

The Harmony master plan also includes Harmony Central, which is adjacent to Harmony Main and has 283 lots. Following that, the developer will launch Harmony East, which is entitled for more than 3,500 units. 

The Harmony deal is Sun Terra's largest in 2017. The land banking specialist, with backing from New York private equity firm JEN Partners, paid $26.7 million last year to buy the former "San Pedro Center" land in south Seminole County from the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. That project was subsequently sold to Meritage.

The Harmony transaction is Osceola County's largest land sale this year, following two big ticket sales earlier this month -- Magic City ($20 million) and the 4H Ranch ($18.5 million).

"It's very unusual to have three land sales of that size in one month," Osceola County Property Appraiser Katrina Scarborough said. "If you take the 4H Ranch out of the equation -- because it's going to continue to be a ranch -- I think the other two are pretty indicative of what's going on in Osceola County. We're one of the fastest growing counties in the nation."  

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Copyright © 2017, GrowthSpotter

Ashton Woods brings an ambitious 600-home community to Sandy Springs

Lofts, townhomes, and single-family homes are all next door to the new Mercedes-Benz headquarters

July 7, 2017Betsy Riley1 Comment



Aria, a 600-plus-home community going up around the intersection of Glenridge and Abernathy roads in Sandy Springs, is ambitious even for Ashton Woods, an Atlanta-based developer recognized as the nation’s fourth-largest private homebuilder. To pull it off in style, it has partnered with DPZ, the architectural firm founded by Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, who practically invented new urbanism beginning with Seaside on the Florida Panhandle.

The development will have two residential phases connected by a future mixed-use section next door to the new Mercedes-Benz headquarters. (The northern portion was formerly home to historic Glenridge Hall, which its owners demolished despite protests.) Housing options include lofts, townhomes, and single-family homes, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $1 million. The architectural style reflects an English Arts and Crafts influence.

Located within walking distance of MARTA, the property will include a clubhouse, two resort-style pools, and a public park. In its first months of sales, homes were selling at the rate of one a day.

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2017 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

200-acre, mixed-use project progresses in Winter Park

Feb 15, 2017, 2:51pm EST

Veronica Brezina Staff Writer Orlando Business Journal

A long-discussed project in the works for Winter Park now is progressing through the Seminole County’s Board of Commissioners.

Named as the Lake Howell Reserve and San Pedro project, it would consist of developing mixed-use projects on 200 acres of the 468-acre property previously owned by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando for many years.


On Feb.13, Seminole County approved some changes on the project that's slated to be built this fall on the north side of Howell Branch Road.

Sun Terra Communities and its equity partner New York private equity firm JEN Florida 23 LLC bought the property for roughly $26 million in 2016.

Sun Terra Principal Richard Jerman told Orlando Business Journal what the plan entails:

  • It was approved for 710 residential units, but Sun Terra plans to build 695.
  • 250 of the units are townhouses.
  • 445 will be single-family homes.
  • There are three different lot sizes and the single-family homes will range from one to two stories.

According to county documents:

  • The assisted-living facility will have 125 beds and 7,500 square feet of ancillary commercial uses.
  • There will be 50,000 square feet of convenience/retail/commercial space.
  • There are plans for a cemetery expansion for 75,000 square feet support uses, including a shrine.
  • A spiritual center expansion is planned for 50,000 square feet to support facilities.

Lake Howell Reserve consists of Villages 1, 2A and 2B, while San Pedro consists of the spiritual center and cemetery. Villages 1 and 2A will be slated for single-family homes. Village 2B will have assisted living, recreation facilities, fields, parks, trails and community centers, banks, charter schools and restaurants.The remaining undeveloped 268 acres will be for environmental conservation and preservation.

Jerman said Sun Terra now is submitting a preliminary subdivision plan to the county for approval.

Check for updates to this developing story.

Click here to get the free daily Orlando Business Journal newsletter and breaking-news alerts.

Brezina covers economic development.

JEN Partners closes land fund on $280m – Exclusive

JEN Partners closes land fund on $280m – Exclusive
Published: 21 September 2016

By: Meghan Morris

The firm targets homebuilder financing and undeveloped land acquisitions through its opportunistic fund series.

New York-based JEN Partners has closed its latest opportunistic fund targeting residential land, PERE has learned.

The firm declined to comment, but PERE understands that JEN Partners launched JEN V in October 2015 and closed the vehicle earlier this month on $280 million, above the firm’s original $250 million target.

One investor in the fund is Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (MassPRIM), which allocated $50 million in June as part of its emerging manager program, according to board meeting documents.

The firm launched JEN IV, its first fund to include institutional capital, in February 2013 and closed the vehicle in January 2014 on $180 million, sources with knowledge of the fundraising process told PERE.  Between the fourth and fifth fund closes, the firm also created a $144 million separate account with a US state pension plan.

With capital from the fund series and the separate account, the firm provides short-term financing for US homebuilders and purchases land for repositioning in the Sunbelt region of the US, according to MassPRIM.

Through lot banking deals, a type of off-balance sheet financing, JEN Partners acquires land to convert from ‘shovel-ready’ to finished lots with infrastructure such as sewer, water and gas lines in place, which a homebuilder can then purchase on a fixed schedule. Unlevered, these deals can yield a mid-teens unlevered internal rate of return, but with 50 percent leverage, the firm predicts a 20 percent gross IRR and a 1.4x to 1.6x gross multiple.

JEN Partners also plans to deploy capital through land repositioning, which targets mismanaged lots that the firm then redevelops and sells over six to 12 months, with an expected gross IRR of over 25 percent.

Japan's ORIX Buys LIHTC Syndicator


The acquisition of Boston Financial Investment Management boosts the firm's affordable housing business.

By Donna Kimura

ORIX Corp., a prominent Japanese financial services firm, has acquired Boston Financial Investment Management, a longtime low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) syndicator.

It will be the second LIHTC syndicator to change hands this year. Omni Holding Co. recently acquired City Real Estate Advisors.

Several industry leaders said a third deal involving First Sterling is also expected.

ORIX has a U.S. subsidiary based in Dallas. ORIX USA Corp. owns RED Capital Group, which provides capital for affordable, multifamily, and senior housing and health-care real estate.

The acquisition of Boston Financial would add to the firm’s affordable housing business. Boston Financial raised approximately $560 million in LIHTC capital and acquired 97 properties last year, according to an Affordable Housing Finance survey. The firm has a long history syndicating housing credits. In 2009, Boston Financial, formerly MMA Financial, was acquired by JEN Partners and Real Estate Capital Partners.

“This acquisition is a natural extension of ORIX USA’s existing business and affirms our commitment to the affordable housing market,” said Hideto Nishitani, ORIX USA’s chairman, president, and CEO, in a statement. “ORIX USA is already active in the affordable housing industry through our investment in RED Capital Group and has established expertise in underwriting, construction management and asset management through our Risk Management and Real Estate groups. With its seasoned management team, Boston Financial is a national leader in the tax credit industry having raised over $10 billion of low-income housing and historic tax credit equity investments in over 2,200 properties. Combining our real estate and affordable housing expertise and deep capital resources with Boston Financial’s track record will strengthen Boston Financial’s position as one of the strongest independent syndicators in the market.”

Rumors of the ORIX deal have been circulating for several weeks, and Reuters recently reported that the company “paid several hundred million dollars” to buy Boston Financial.

Boston Financial will be a separate subsidiary of ORIX USA with Ken Cutillo continuing to serve as CEO.

"Our investors and developer partners will greatly benefit from ORIX USA’s scale, innovative capital solutions, and financial strength," he said. "We’re thrilled with the confidence that ORIX USA has shown in our platform and employees, and are poised for a new chapter in our company’s history, focused on the growth of our production effort and product expansion.”

The acquisition was completed on July 8.

Editor's Note: The story was updated on July 19 to include additional details.


The builder plans to build 135 single family homes on the parcel.

By Les Shaver

Shea Homes has purchased approximately 71.09 acres of land in Peoria, Az. from JEN Arizona 22 for $11.6 million.

Shea's Trailside South community in Arizona.

Shea plans to build 135 single family homes in the newest Shea Homes community, currently named Trailside South, according to a release from Shea. While home design plans have not yet been finalized, the homes will range in size from around 2,800 to 4,800 square feet. The development is expected to be a pedestrian-friendly community featuring multi-use trails and open spaces.

“This area, which has experienced significant growth in recent years, offers easy access to schools, shopping and restaurants, said Ken Peterson, vice president of sales and marketing for Shea Homes. “Trailside South is an ideal location for those who enjoy hiking, boating and other outdoor recreation opportunities at Peoria Sunrise Mountain Preserve and Lake Pleasant.”

Shea Homes has been a major player in the metro area since 1989 and has built more than 25,000 homes across the Valley in its 27 years. In 2015, it held about 5% of the area’s home builder market share, according to Metrostudy. In April, the company started construction on model homes at its newest Phoenix community – 24 North – which, when finished, will feature 111 two-story, single-family detached homes.

Shea Homes Spend $59.5 Million

Shea Homes Spend $59.5 Million


Maricopa County - A joint venture formed by Shea Homes of Phoenix Inc. and Tricon Capital Group Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (TCN:TSX) paid $59.5 million to acquire the Tegavah golf course community located northeast of Scottsdale in Maricopa County.

The 856-acre master-plan, formerly called Vista Verde, is located in the shadows of the Tonto National Forest along the north side of Rio Verde Drive and east of 172nd Street (alignment). The purchase included the 18-hole Tegavah Golf Club championship layout and 500 + acres of raw land that is approved for 1,148 residences.

The seller retained 137 developed lots within Tegavah, which will be developed as a Trilogy age targeted community. The buyer was Tegavah Construction LP (Shea/Tricon entity). The seller was Vista Verde 2013 LLC, a joint venture formed by JEN Partners in New York City, N.Y. (Reuben Leibowitz, principal) and Brookfield Residential Properties Inc. in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (NYSE:BRP, Robert Stelzl, chairman).

The deal was brokered by Nate Nathan and Courtney Buck of Nathan & Associates Inc. in Scottsdale. Maricopa County records show buyer acquired the property with a $41.6 million cash down payment and the seller carried back $17.9 million of the purchase price. Sources say that loan is for three years.

One year ago, BREW reported the JEN Partners/Brookfield venture paying $45 million to acquire the golf community then known as Vista Verde. That acquisition included the 178-acre golf course, the 500 + acres of undeveloped land and 151 finished lots that were held out of the sale to Shea/Tricon. TerraWest Communities LLC in Phoenix (Mike Jesberger, principal), which manages real estate investments in the Valley for JEN Partners, made some changes after taking over management of Vista Verde. In addition to changing the name to Tegavah, TerraWest also rezoned the property to allow a maximum of 1,285 residences. TerraWest used 14 of the 151 developed home sites to redesign the main entry into Tegavah. The 137 finished lots still held by JEN Partners/Brookfield, which each average 20,000 + sq. ft., will be marketed for sale to one or more builders.

The home sites are being marketed by Nathan and Buck and will also be age targeted housing, and part of the Tegavah community association. The nationwide Trilogy brand, which is developed by Shea Homes Active Lifestyle Communities, is known for having resort style amenities and high-end, luxury homes.

Last week, the company announced plans to develop its 16th active adult community in the U.S. in a project northwest of Phoenix being called Trilogy at Wickenburg Ranch. Vista Verde Golf Club opened for play in 2006 and 35 lots were sold to individual buyers before home building activity at Vista Verde stalled with the crash in the economy.

Based on its success with the Trilogy communities, the rebound in the housing market and the prime location just northeast of Scottsdale, Shea Homes Active Lifestyle likely will have significant interest from buyers at Tegavah. Home sales will being next year. Shea Homes Active Adult Lifestyle is a division of the J.F. Shea Co. Inc. in Walnut, Calif. (Bert Selva, CEO). Shea Homes builds conventional housing in the Valley as Shea Homes Limited Partnership in Scottsdale (Buddy Satterfield, pres.) as well as active adult/age targeted.

Tricon Capital (David Berman, CEO) is a publicly-traded North America real estate investment company with more than $1 billion in assets under its management. The company has several other Valley investments. Hal Looney and Rick Andreen head up Arizona operations for Shea Homes Active Lifestyle . . . call them at (480) 367-3700. Berman is at (416) 925-5610. Reach Jesberger at (602) 920-1722.

Talk to representatives of JEN Partners at (212) 755-4300. John Bradley of Brookfield Residential is at (602) 421-3292. The Nathan & Associates agents are at (480) 367-0700.

Maracay Homes, JEN Partners Close Of 74 Lots In Chandler

Posted August 2, 2012 by Michael Gossie

JEN Partners closed on 23-acres east of the south-east corner of Ocotillo Road and Lindsay Road in Chandler. Known locally as the Pastorino Dairy, the final plat is approved for 74, 60’ x 120’ lots and was annexed, zoned and platted by Maracay Homes.

Opening spring of 2013, the community will be named Vaquero Ranch and feature Maracay Homes’ 45’ wide home series ranging from 1,800 – 3,700 square feet.  Prices will be based on market conditions at opening date.

“This acquisition is a good example of Maracay’s continued pursuit of land opportunities in premium locations with capital efficient transaction structures,” said Tom Lemon, VP of land acquisitions and development for Maracay Homes. “Maracay Homes is excited about the opportunity to develop a land banking relationship with a well capitalized partner that has significant local market and home building expertise.”

JEN Partners, a NY Private Equity Firm managed locally by TerraWest Communities, paid $2.3 million for the property.  The seller was the Estate of Londo Pastorino.  Under separate agreements with JEN Partners, an entity of Maracay Homes, Maracay VR, LLC, will develop the home sites and purchase them on a rolling option basis.

Donna Bolen of Arizona Enterprises brokered the underlying purchase.  No broker was involved in the land bank transaction.

    Avatar Holdings Acquires Properties From Jen Partners That Significantly Diversify Its Real Estate Portfolio in Arizona and Florida

    --Properties Acquired Fall in the 'Sweet Spot' of Avatar's Active Adult Community Strategy--

    --Transaction Further Strengthens Avatar's Senior Management Team; Expands Board of Directors--

    Oct 25, 2010, 16:46 ET from Avatar Holdings Inc.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Avatar Holdings Inc. ("Avatar") (Nasdaq: AVTR), a leading real estate company in Florida and Arizona, announced today that it acquired from JEN Partners LLC, a New York-based real estate private equity fund, a portfolio of prime real estate assets in key geographic retirement areas in Arizona and Florida for approximately $62 million in cash, stock and notes, plus an earn-out of up to $8 million. Avatar's Board of Directors unanimously approved the transaction which closed today.

    Among the prime assets and properties being acquired from JEN Partners include:  

    • Arizona properties:
      • Joseph Carl Homes, LLC-- the Phoenix-based private home builder and the developer of CantaMia, an active adult community, and single family homes.  
      • CantaMia--a 1781 unit premier active adult community located in the Estrella Mountain Ranch Master Plan Community in Goodyear, Arizona.
    • Florida properties:
      • Sharpe properties-- 445 acres located in Orange County, comprised of 839 partially developed lots, a multi-family tract, and a two acre commercial site.

    The purchase price consists of $30 million in cash, $20 million in restricted common stock subject to a two-year lock up agreement, and $12 million of notes divided equally into two $6 million notes, one with a 1-year maturity and the second with a 2-year maturity. In addition, the agreement provides for up to $8 million in common stock, subject to the achievement of certain agreed upon metrics related to the CantaMia project by December 31, 2014.  

    The newly-acquired properties will significantly expand Avatar's existing base in the two markets it specializes in--Arizona and Florida. It will also further expand Avatar's position into the highly-desirable active adult community (ages 55+) sector of the Arizona real estate market, and bring to the company a number of proven real estate executives, including Joseph Carl Mulac III, a former senior executive with Tousa , Inc.  Mr. Mulac, founder and CEO of Joseph Carl Homes, joins Avatar as Executive Vice President and President of its subsidiary, Avatar Properties Inc.  

    Additionally, as part of the agreement, two Managing Directors from JEN Partners, Reuben Leibowitz and Allen Anderson, will join the Avatar Board of Directors.  Prior to founding JEN Partners, Mr. Leibowitz had spent 22 years at Warburg Pincus and was responsible for the firm's real estate effort. Mr. Anderson had been Chairman and CEO of Meridian Industrial Trust, a NYSE listed REIT until its sale to Pro Logis in 1999. He joined JEN as a Senior Advisor in 2006 and became a Managing Director of the firm in 2008. Mr. Leibowitz and Mr. Anderson each have more than 30 years of experience in building and growing real estate companies and successfully managing through various real estate market cycles. Through this transaction, JEN Partners will become a significant shareholder of Avatar.

    Gerald D. Kelfer, Avatar's President and Chief Executive Officer said, "Cumulatively, this transaction will be transformative for Avatar as it significantly strengthens and expands our footprint, particularly in Arizona, bolsters our management team, and deepens the experience of our Board of Directors. As I prepare to retire from day-to-day management responsibilities, I do so with the confidence that this transaction is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders." Mr. Kelfer, age 65, announced his retirement earlier this month. He will remain Vice Chairman of Avatar's board of directors.

    Mr. Leibowitz, a Managing Director of JEN Partners, added,  "From the outset, we were very excited about the potential of this transaction and the prospects for Avatar, which is evidenced by the significant  equity stake JEN now holds in the company. We look forward to joining the Board and making a meaningful contribution to the company."  

    Jon M. Donnell, who will become Avatar's President and Chief Executive Officer, effective November 15th, added, "This is an important transaction for Avatar. Many of the properties we have just acquired from JEN are in the sweet spot of our strategy to build premium active adult communities and consistent with our stated goal to capitalize on current market opportunities," added Mr. Donnell. "We are also very pleased that Carl Mulac is joining our company. He brings more than 25 years of experience developing and growing homebuilding operations to Avatar. He will be a solid addition to our senior management team."

    Mr. Donnell brings to Avatar over 20 years of experience in homebuilding, land development, and active adult communities—the Company's prime areas of focus. From 1995-2004, he held several executive positions at Dominion Homes, Inc., a builder of single family homes, and was President and Chief Operating Officer from 1999-2004. From 1984-1995, he held various senior-level financial and operational positions at Del Webb Corporation, a premier builder of master-planned, active adult communities. More recently, from 2007 to present, he Co-Founded and has been a Principal of The Monticello Group, LLC a specialty real estate advisory firm based in Sarasota, Florida.

    About Avatar Holdings

    Avatar Holdings Inc. is engaged in real estate operations in Florida and Arizona. In addition to the properties acquired in its JEN Partners transaction, Avatar's principal operations are conducted at Poinciana, Solivita and Bellalago in central Florida near Orlando; and Seasons at Tradition in Port St. Lucie, Florida and at Rio Rico, south of Tucson, AZ. Avatar's common shares trades on NASDAQ under the symbol AVTR.


    SOURCE Avatar Holdings Inc.