Phase One of First Fla. Green Residential Community to Open for Sale

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorWinter Park, Fla.—The first phase of The Sage at Winter Park, an Energy Star-certified, 72-unit townhome community developed by Winter Perch LLC, is expected to be the first green certified multifamily development in the state of Florida.According to Ian McCook, founder and president of Nvision, an Orlando, Fla.-based real estate development management company, who worked on the $15 million project, there are currently no completed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) residential projects in the state. “We weren’t originally planning [The Sage] as a green community, but everything we have done has made it such,” McCook tells MHN, explaining that much of the project’s sustainability comes from the already-existing infrastructure.The 4.2-acre infill site is in close proximity to Goldenrod Park and Cady Way Trail, a six-mile bike path that runs though Orlando, allowing the project to utilize these public facilities as community amenities.McCook also notes that homes are getting smaller due to the price per sq. ft. Consequently, Nationwide Custom Homes, a subsidiary of Palm Harbor Homes, constructed the townhomes modularly, thereby reducing construction waste and speeding up the construction cycle.Residence green features include natural-gas stoves, tankless hot water heaters, low-flow showerheads and faucets, high-efficiency air conditioning, Energy Star appliances and circuits for charging electric cars. Each home at The Sage is inspected on three separate occasions by an independent consultant to ensure that green building standards have been met and the insulation and air barriers are properly installed. Designed by Orlando-based Brown Cooper Architects, the Sage will offer two-, three- and four-bedroom townhomes, ranging in size from 984 to 1,468 sq. ft. Nearly half of the homes will have lakefront views of Lake Perch. Homes are priced from the $180,000s to $300,000.The Sage’s sales office is expected to begin marketing the first building, which is comprised of six units, this weekend. McCook says the target demographic for the development is primarily the 25- to 45-year-old first time homebuyer.Though sales have not yet begun, McCook remains optimistic about the market interest and believes that the $8,000 tax credit will help significantly, as well as the fact that the competition has decreased greatly, as many planned developments are not moving forward now. He does note, however, that the team is predicting a sales rate of four units per month, approximately half of what they would have expected in 2006 or 2007.“We got into this project knowing that it’s going to be a long process through the economic recovery,” says McCook. “We have been smart on planning for the right niche in the market and that is creating homes that the average homebuyer can afford.”