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Island’s newest community, Seaglass, about to break ground

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS (Week of July 15, 2021)

Ground-breaking is expected “any day now” for what will become the island’s newest community, Seaglass, located across from the Disney Resort on Highway A1A.

Bill Handler, president of GHO Homes, said the county approved a land development permit last month for the start of work on a 72-home subdivision on a prime 26-acre tract at the intersection of A1A and Route 510.

In the current hot home market, Handler doesn’t intend to waste any time getting started.  He said new homes will be available for purchase in Seaglass in 2022.

GHO intends to create an “Old Florida” ambiance in the subdivision, a statement backed up by a county staff report prepared for the Planning and Zoning Commission that says the developer will “preserve or relocate a majority of the hardwood trees within preservation tracts and or perimeter buffers.”

“We have gone to extremes to preserve the mature trees in there, to maintain a canopy and an Old Florida feel,” Handler told Vero Beach 32963 last week. “We moved the roads around to save trees and there are nine islands in the road, where it splits and goes around stands of trees.

“We walked the site for hours figuring out how to preserve the natural scene and we are continuing to do that. Many developers just mow things down, but we want to keep everything natural as possible.

“From the treescape to the topography and angles of the lots, pretty much every lot in Seaglass is special.”

The subdivision parcel originally was part of Disney’s 70-acre Florida Beach Resort planned development, which was approved in the 1980s and included three parcels – A, B and C

Disney built its existing 214-room hotel and resort with its Mickey Mouse-shaped swimming pool on parcel A in the 1990s but ended up selling parcel B during the real estate downturn. The developer who bought the land lost it to the bank and it was then purchased by Yane Zana of Coastmark Construction who developed it as North Shore Club, a neighborhood of large, oceanfront estates.

Handler bought most of parcel C in 2019, paying $6.9 million for the 25.9-acre tract. The rest of parcel C – 14-acres on the west side of A1A – still belongs to Disney and is utilized as parking, maintenance facilities and recreation space.

As a result of the two sales, density will be drastically reduced within the overall planned development. Zana’s parcel B was approved for 50-some condos but will only have only seven homes when complete.

Handler is building only half as many homes on his land as zoning would allow. The final unit count when Seaglass and North Shore are finished will be less than 300, including houses and hotel efficiencies, instead of the 580 units originally approved for Disney.

There will be a mix of single-family and duplex units in Seaglass, according to Handler and county documents, with 44 single-family homes and 28 duplex units.

Access will be via a gated entry on Route 510, where GHO will build a new west-bound left turn lane.

Handler has not decided on all the design details or set prices for the new homes yet, citing uncertainty about material costs and the housing market, though it can be assumed the duplex units will cost less than the single-family homes.

Prices for new homes in three other island subdivisions where GHO is building and selling houses probably define a ballpark range for prices in Seaglass.

At Sommers Place, the closest of the three subdivisions to Seaglass located about a quarter mile north on A1A, GHO is selling homes that start in the $600,000s. At nearby Orchid Cove, a short distance west on route 510, Handler’s homes are selling in the $800,000s.

GHO’s most expensive island homes are located in The Strand in Indian River Shores, where houses are priced between $1,187,900 and $1,327,990, according to the company’s website.

Handler says homes in The Strand have enough high-end features and finishes included that some buyers may opt to pay the base price, purchasing their home as designed, while others may add $100,000 or more in luxury upgrades, bumping prices up close to $1.5 million.