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Here’s what the new Treviso Bay east of Naples has to offer:
Terrace condominiums — the most affordable in four-story buildings — come in three sizes: 1,194, 1,232 and 1,408 square feet. They have one-car garages.
Larger condos in two-story buildings range from 1,407 to 1,616 square feet, with one-car garages.
There are two plans for coach homes, which come four to a building. One plan is 1,883 square feet, the other is 2,099, both with two-car garages.
Single-family executive homes are 1,649 to 2,246 square feet, with two-car garages.
Luxury estate homes — the most expensive — start at 2,360 square feet. They have three-car garages, pools and spas.
Other builders will be allowed in the development.
Source: Lennar Corp.
EAST NAPLES — Treviso Bay has been revived.
Once neglected, the resort community east of Naples shows the signs of a rebirth. Under a new owner, once-broken fountains are running again, overgrown shrubs are trimmed and empty lots are mowed. The landscaping is lush with new flowers and plants.
Last year, Lennar Corp. — a Miami-based homebuilder — quietly took over the troubled development after it fell into foreclosure. After months of secrecy, the builder is ready to show off what it has to offer buyers.
On Thursday, Lennar gave a sneak peek to local Realtors. More than 800 R.S.V.P.’d to attend.
“We have done so much. It’s just a huge list of things that we have done to try to make the community the way it should be,” said Matt Devereaux, sales director for Lennar’s Southwest Florida division.
Realtors were forced into overflow parking and jammed into trolleys to get to a tent where they could learn more about the new Treviso Bay.
“That just shows you that people are excited about buying homes again,” said Darin McMurray, Lennar’s Southwest Florida division president.
Under the tent, Realtors saw a few renderings and a site plan as they mingled and munched on hors d’oeuvres. On the way out they picked up marketing kits with floor plans and pricing. But there wasn’t anything else to show — a disappointment to some.
“All of the real estate people have been waiting for this place to be open by somebody,” said Naples Realtor Anthony Romano, with Downing-Frye Realty Inc. “And to have Lennar do it is a good thing.”
The new sales center at Treviso Bay officially opens to the public Jan. 21. Saturday, past customers and other VIPs will get the first chance to buy.
In November, Lennar made the only bid for Treviso Bay at a foreclosure auction at the Collier County courthouse, after one of the builder’s affiliates assumed the mortgage notes.
Lennar bid $100 at the auction. How much the builder paid for the mortgage notes isn’t public, but local Realtors speculate it’s about $7 million. The builder’s investment goes on.
“Currently, there are two models under construction,” Devereaux said. “We’ll be starting more in the near future.”
More than 1,000 homes are still to be built in Treviso Bay. The foreclosure judgment on the mostly undeveloped community was more than $82 million, according to Collier County court records. The original developer, V.K. Development Corp., a family-owned company based in Wisconsin, invested much more than that in the sprawling 1,050-acre resort community.
The new homes by Lennar will not be as lavish as V.K. Development envisioned. They’ll be smaller and more affordable, meeting the demands of today’s market.
Prices range from the $200,000s for the smallest condos to more than $700,000 for the largest estates. Prices include designer finishes, such as wood cabinets, marble windowsills and granite countertops.
“All of the homes that we build there will all be built under our ‘everything is included’ philosophy, which means you don’t have to go to a designer studio. You don’t have to worry about the cost of your home going up after walking out of the sales office,” Devereaux said.
Over the last year, new home building has picked up and new residential projects have moved ahead in Collier County, as the local real estate market continues to slowly recover.
“All of this translates into jobs in the construction industry and jobs are good. Employment is good,” said Ross McIntosh, a Naples broker and housing expert.
Every single-family home that’s built creates an average of three full-time jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
“This is what we want to see as we come out of this. We want to see this gradual return to construction and expansion of supply in the housing stock. But we still have a ways to go before we should expect that to be a significant driver in the local economy,” said Shelton Weeks, director at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance.
Lennar isn’t just building in Treviso Bay. The builder has aggressively invested in other troubled communities in Southwest Florida, taking advantage of lower land costs as the market looks to recover from a housing boom that went bust.
Last year, Lennar agreed to purchase 57 lots at TwinEagles off Immokalee Road in North Naples and it will soon start sales there. The Bonita Bay Group shed the high-end golf community at the end of 2010 as it fought off bankruptcy, selling it to The Ronto Group, a Naples-based developer that’s revitalizing it.
Over time, Lennar plans to buy 227 lots in the Fiddler’s Creek golf community off Collier Boulevard, near Marco Island. The sale was recently approved as part of a bankruptcy reorganization plan for the community’s namesake developer.
“Lennar finds it cheaper to buy golf course lots in those communities than to start from scratch, but the opportunities to do that are diminishing quickly and I don’t think it’s going to be as long as we all expected before someone proposes a new golf course community in Collier County,” McIntosh said. “Stay tuned.”
The competition – at least some of it – doesn’t seem too worried. G.L. Homes has launched Riverstone at Naples and is investing millions in the new 850-home community off Immokalee Road in North Naples. The sales center opens Jan. 28.
Riverstone doesn’t have a golf course.
“We’ll have the amenities, other than the golf course. We’ll have an incredible clubhouse...There’s a place for both of us,” said Patty Campbell, president of G.L. Homes’ Southwest Florida Division.
Lennar has succeeded with other projects in Naples including Heritage Bay Golf & Country Club, a gated community off Immokalee Road that’s nearing build-out.
“Naples has a great name to it. So Naples is going to draw consumers for many things, whether it’s housing, or the beaches, or the hotels,” said Lennar’s Devereaux.
Naples Realtor Bill Westman, with Keating Associates, has a listing in Treviso Bay and knows a few owners in the community.
“Most of the people that I talked to who have property out there are happy there is someone coming in taking it over, versus just having it dying on the vine,” he said.
Treviso has the only PGA Tour Tournament Players’ Club, or TPC, golf course in Southwest Florida. Despite the community’s troubles, the golf course has remained open with its TPC flag flying high. It has opened to the public and has seen more play since Lennar took it over.
The clubhouse for golfers is still only partly built, but it will get built. It won’t be as grand as what V.K. Development planned. But that doesn’t seem to matter.
“It’s not going to stand out there like a concrete jungle for years,” Westman said. “It’s going to get redone.”
Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden.