Growth is taking off in southeast Orlando -- with upscale homes planned close to an airport runway.
By Ken Ibold
The expansion of Lake Nona on the edge of the airport is well on its way to transforming southeast Orlando from a rural landscape dotted with small, simple houses to an upscale development bigger than the city of Winter Park.
Plans under way call for the community -- home to such sports stars as Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo -- to include more than 1,000 homes and 250 townhouses from $130,000 to $600,000. Construction on the second phase, NorthLake Park at Lake Nona, is already under way. Eventually, 8,150-acre Lake Nona will have as many as 9,000 homes, 950,000 square feet of retail space, 1.5 million square feet of industrial space and about 300 secluded mansions.
Orlando, expecting that up to half of the city's future population growth would be in the southeast, annexed Lake Nona in 1994. And thanks to the ever-expanding airport, the city has been steadily improving infrastructure in the area.
"For many years, we were known as a great rural location," says Randy Lyon, president and CEO of Lake Nona Property Holdings, the developer. "What's happened over the past four years is that the attitude has been, 'Let's put the infrastructure in place and shape the growth that way.' "
The community's proximity to Orlando International Airport could prove to be ticklish, however. With some homes to be built just 2,500 feet from a planned runway, how will upscale buyers respond? Lyon downplays the significance of jet noise, saying many buyers will find the proximity of the airport an asset. In addition, Lyon points out that the residential areas are off to the side of the flight path and outside the heaviest noise corridors.
But the airport authority requires an air-use easement over some of the land, meaning there will be overflights. Homeowners in parts of the new development will be required to waive the right to sue. Still in other areas, developers are required only to notify homeowners that the airport is there.
The new phase, where homes will average about $225,000, will be wired for high-speed digital lines, plumbed for irrigation with reclaimed water and served by roads being put into place for an expanded airport. City planners believe that investment in infrastructure may free the community from many of the growing pains evident elsewhere in Orlando and lead to a growth boom in southeast Orlando.
The project also includes three world-class golf courses and a luxury resort hotel modeled after The Breakers in Palm Beach. Already up and running is a YMCA joined with an elementary school.
In a May presentation to real estate agents at the YMCA/school, Lyon fielded numerous questions about the community's school and amenities. Not one asked about airport noise.
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