Housing market for retiring baby boomers exploding in western Port St. Lucie.
PORT ST. LUCIE — GL Homes waited 12 years to start building homes on a six-square mile agricultural tract known as Riverland because of the precipitous drop in the city's property values during the Great Recession.
It looks like it will be worth the wait because GL Homes plans to develop several communities for people age 55-and-up and the housing market for retiring baby boomers is taking off in western Port St. Lucie.
Valencia Cay, a 55-plus community, sold 249 homes since Aug. 10, including 51 on opening day, said Ryan Courson, a GL Homes vice president, during a recent interview.
The early success prompted GL Homes to ramp up its marketing efforts and construction schedule heading into tourist season when baby boomers flock to South Florida, said Glenn Ryals, another GL Homes vice president.
GL Homes is the latest builder to undertake a 55-plus community in western Port St. Lucie. It is also the most ambitious considering the 3,845 acres in Riverland.
Other top builders working on communities for the 55-plus crowd in the rapidly growing area west of Interstate 95 include Pulte Home Co., Taylor Morrison, The Kolter Group and Kennedy Homes.
But GL Homes is not afraid of the competition or the possibility of the market being flooded, Courson and Ryals said.
"We think competition is good for a market," Ryals said. "The fact that there are four (other) major builders doing active-adult (communities) in the market lends credibility to the market."
That line of reasoning was echoed by Blake Lapinsky, vice president of sales for Pulte's southeast Florida division, which is developing a 55-plus community called Del Webb Tradition. The 1,350-home subdivision is about two miles from Valencia Cay.
Lapinsky is also expecting sales to increase at Del Webb Tradition during the winter months.
Pulte's 426-acre project is part of the 8,200-acre Tradition development, which features a popular town square, a Publix supermarket and a variety of large stores, small shops, restaurants and offices.
The success of Taylor Morrison's 55-plus Vitalia at Tradition community showed the demand for new houses for affluent baby boomers, Courson said.
Homeowners in Vitalia recently flexed their political muscle by showing up for a City Council meeting en mass to express opposition to a proposal to expand their community. Some said they expect construction to be completed within two years.