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Old Oaks Lane project coming to life

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS (Week of February 12, 2015)
Developers Lee and George Heaton at the site of the future Old Oaks in Riomar.

After several years of delay, new home construction is scheduled to begin in the next month or so at the Old Oaks Lane subdivision in Riomar – site of the former St. Edward’s Lower School.

“We have sold one lot-home package to a local buyer and we are going to build a spec house as well,” says project developer George Heaton, developer of the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa.

“We expect to have permits for the home we are building in 10 days; construction will start a few weeks after that. We should have permits for the custom home within 30 days, with construction starting shortly afterward.”

Indian River County Building Official Scott McAdam confirms his office has a permit application for the first home under review and expects to issue a permit shortly.

Heaton says there will 10 homes in the subdivision, priced from $1.9 to $2.9 million, including land. He plans to have an onsite sales agent and will be cooperating with island realtors, paying a standard commission to any agent who brings a buyer.

Lots are approximately one-half acre and homes will have between 3,500 and 4,000 square feet of air-conditioned living space, with as much as 5,500 square feet under roof.

“All the houses will have 3-car garages, pools and approximately 1,200 square feet of outdoor living space,” Heaton says. “Local real estate agents are very excited about the floor plans.”

One of the first two homes will be built in the popular Windsor style; the other will be modeled on Dutch West Indies architecture. Heaton says most other homes in the subdivision will be in one of those two styles, though some variation will be allowed.

“We have an architectural review committee and complete control over what gets built,” he says. “We have already designed homes for five of the lots, but if someone wants to use their own architect and do something a little bit different, that is possible as long as we approve the design.”

Heaton expects the first homes to be complete by fall 2015; going forward, when a buyer signs a contract, he says it will take 30 to 45 days to get a permit and another eight or nine months to build the house.

The 5.5-acre golf-course subdivision is located on Club Drive on the former site of St. Ed’s. Built in 1929 as a the clubhouse for Riomar Country Club, the Mediterranean Revival buildings were converted to an elementary and middle school when St. Edward’s was founded in the 1960s. Several generations of island kids were educated there before the campus fell victim to school budget problems and a bad economy and sat empty and bank-owned for two years.

Heaton acquired the property in 2012 and the Vero Beach City Council approved a preliminary site plan for the project in October of that year. Proctor construction demolished the old school buildings two years ago and completed site work, installing utilities and preparing the plated lots for construction, in the summer of 2013.

At that time, Heaton expected to sell lots to homeowners who would employ their own architects and builders for prices ranging from $795,000 to $1,295,000, with the lots furthest from Club Drive with the best golf course frontage going for the highest price.

The market was not quite ready for those lots at those prices, though, and the development sat empty for another year and a half.

“It has been a couple of years in the making,” Heaton says. “We have been waiting for the market to get stronger, as it now has. We think now is the time.”

Heaton has a second project underway on the island that is a little further along, a 38-home subdivision called Tarpon Flats about 10 miles south of Vero in St. Lucie County.

He acquired that 70-acre property a year ago from an Atlanta developer who started the project and saw it falter during the real estate downturn. Most of the property is wetland but Heaton is developing 15 acres that stretches from A1A to an inlet on the Indian River Lagoon.

Seventeen of the 4-bedroom homes are waterfront and the subdivision has private beach access on the other side of A1A, according to Heaton. Homes will be priced from $400,000 to $650,000. Two model homes are complete and there was a grand opening at the development on Feb. 5 attended by more than 300 people.

“We have already experienced high demand for the homes at Tarpon Flats,” Heaton says. “It’s exciting for us to be able to offer such affordable luxury on the barrier islands, and clearly folks share our enthusiasm. We already have four homes under contract, and we expect that will increase significantly in a very short amount of time.”

Coldwell Banker Paradise is the onsite realtor for the project.

“We expect these to move quickly,” says Steven Schlitt, co-owner of Coldwell Banker Paradise.