CELEBRATING THE LIFE AND STYLE OF THE HORIZON WEST AREA
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HOW HORIZON WEST IS RESHAPING WEST ORANGE COUNTY
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A few decades ago, a flyover of the area that now encompasses Horizon West would have yielded a view of frozen-out citrus groves. Now itâ€™s homes, businesses and schools surrounding the shimmering lakes. Thatâ€™s the Crooked Cat and Panther Lake golf courses to the left, part of the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge.
GROVES TO GROWTH: A FREEZE UNTHAWED WEST ORANGE, AND NOW FAMILIES ARE FLOCKING TO A NEW HOMETOWN. BY MICK LOCHRIDGE
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Jane Dunkelberger and her husband, Warren, who relocated from Naples to Central Florida, found the perfect place to raise their two children in Horizon West’s Lakeside neighborhood.
hen Jane Dunkelberger and her family relocated to Central Florida from Naples, she and husband, Warren, were looking for just the right place to live, work and raise their two children. “I wanted to plant our roots in an area that would bring balance to our children’s lives,” Dunkelberger says. “We wanted to be able to take our children to local museums, theme parks and enjoy outside activities — yet not be so close to the hustle and bustle of Metro Orlando and the tourist corridor of International Drive.” In other words, she was looking for “the calm outside the madness.” So, after six months of research, the family decided on Horizon West, a fast-growing master-planned region of more than 20,000 acres that developers and Orange County leaders tout as a showcase for smart residential and commercial development on a grand scale. The unincorporated area previously consisted of flourishing orange groves. But when freezes decimated the citrus industry in the late 1980s, the undulating land, dotted with shimmering lakes, became prime for development. Property owners in the area worked with county officials to create a master plan for the region, which was dubbed Horizon West. But there was a major obstacle to overcome. The county’s land-use plan called for the vast tracts upon which groves had once flourished to remain rural, with housing limited to one unit for every 5 or 10 acres. Property now unsuitable for citrus would be unsuitable for subdivisions, too. Without water and sewer lines, the county’s theory went, developers would be forced to find land within the urban service area’s boundaries, thereby minimizing sprawl. However, builders simply leapfrogged the rural expanses of
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southwest Orange County and began planting subdivisions in Lake County to the west and Osceola County to the south. Many buyers of those homes worked in Orange County — so sprawl was made worse, not better, by the rural designation. Still, owners of the then-fallow property — who formed Horizon West Inc. in 1993 — knew that to get the designation changed, they’d have to propose something more comprehensive, more carefully thought out and more cutting edge than anything county officials had seen before. The organization hired the former land-planning firm of Miller, Sellen, Conner and Walsh to craft an approach that regulators would buy into. Then-company president Jim Sellen, who had been Orange County’s planning director in the late 1970s, knew that county officials would never agree to extend the urban service area for piecemeal projects. Sellen also knew that the county had been pushing growth east, not west, because of the University of Central Florida and the Central Florida Research Park as well as Orlando International Airport. However, he agreed that saddling played-out groves with a rural designation was counterproductive under the circumstances. In devising a master plan for Horizon West, Sellen and his colleagues drew in part upon the pioneering work of Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928), whose 1898 publication, To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, described self-sufficient communities linked by road and rail. Those “garden cities” would surround a larger, central city. But the planners also looked at current trends in New Urbanism, Disney’s Celebration development being a prime local example. In addition, they studied well-established communities such as Winter Park, which remained a model for smart planning a century after its founding. Said Sellen in 2016: “What we came up with was so simple that it was powerful.” Horizon West, as it was originally envisioned, would contain six to eight Howard-style villages consisting of two to four neighborhoods. Schools and community parks would be within walking distance — a half-mile or less — of the homes, and the size of each neighborhood would be pegged to the capacity of its school. Each village would have its own village center with such essentials as a grocery store and a drugstore. A major mixed-use town center encompassing homes, shops, offices and public areas would serve all the villages, while bicycle and pedestrian paths would line every street and connect village centers and neighborhoods to one another. Thousands of acres of green space would be preserved.
A WESTWARD STAMPEDE The plan was approved, and buyers began making their way west, just a trickle at first and then, especially during the past five years, a flood. The Dunkelbergers moved into Lakeside, the first of six villages, in 2006. That year, the population of Horizon West was less than 7,000. Now, about 63,000 people live in about 23,000 apartments, townhomes and single-family homes in more than 30 neighborhoods.
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Horizon West Villages with Existing and Proposed Schools School Locations
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Horizon West Villages 126-E-W-4
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Lakeside Village Town Center Village F Village H Village I Village of Bridgewater
DISCLAIMER: Data is provided “as is” at the time the map was prepared. The requester acknowledges and accepts the limitations of the data, including the fact that the data is dynamic and in a constant state of maintenance, correction and update. PREPARED BY: Orange County Public Schools, Office of Student Enrollment - BJD DATE: October 7, 2019
Sources: Esri, HERE, Garmin, Intermap, increment P Corp., GEBCO, USGS, FAO, NPS, NRCAN, GeoBase, IGN, Kadaster NL, Ordnance Survey, Esri Japan, METI, Esri China (Hong Kong), (c) OpenStreetMap contributors, and the GIS User Community
Although Horizon West is served by many public schools, perhaps none was more needed than a new high school. Windermere High School, with 2,205 students, opened in 2017.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Village of Bridgewater Keene’s Crossing Elementary (Opened in 2009) Independence Elementary (Opened in 2015) Summerlake Elementary (Opened in 2020) Lakeside Village Bay Lake Elementary (Opened in 2016) Sunset Park Elementary (Opened in 2007) Castleview Elementary (Opened in 2019) Village H (Hickory Nut) Water Spring Elementary (Opened in 2019) MIDDLE SCHOOL Village of Bridgewater Bridgewater Middle (Opened in 2007) Lakeside Village Horizon West Middle (Opened in 2019) High School Village of Bridgewater Windermere High (Opened in 2017) Village H (Hickory Nut) Site 113-H-W-4 (Opening in 2021) Source: Orange County Public Schools
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At buildout, Horizon West could encompass more than 100,000 residents living in more than 40,000 homes of every type. That’s more than three times the population of Winter Park and nearly twice the number of people who live in Apopka. “A combination of factors has led to this part of town becoming one of the most desirable places to move, especially for families,” says Kevin Merideth, director of sales, leasing and acquisitions for Boyd Development Corporation, the company behind the mixed-use Hamlin project. Those positive elements include top-rated public and private schools, easy access to anywhere in Metro Orlando via the expressway system, proximity to Walt Disney World without having to endure stifling traffic congestion, and a large assortment of parks and trails to enjoy the outdoors. Between 10,000 and 12,000 newcomers have been moving into the Horizon West area every year for the last five-plus years, according to Boyd Development. Today, about 42 percent of new-home construction permits being issued in Orange County are for homes being built in Horizon West — which represents only 4 percent of the county’s land area. For example, in September 2019 the county issued 176 construction permits for new single-family homes. Of those, 97 permits, or 55 percent, were in Horizon West. For multifamily permits, 64 percent were in Horizon West. Townhouse permits accounted for 25 percent. In Florida, only The Villages, the massive retirement community located mostly in Sumter County, and Lakewood Ranch,
a master-planned community in Sarasota and Manatee counties, are growing faster than Horizon West, which is generally defined as bordered on the east by S.R. 535, the north by Tilden Road, the south by Walt Disney World and the west by the Orange County/Lake County line. And it’s a charmingly cohesive place despite its size, and despite the sometimes-confusing fact that residents may have Winter Garden, Windermere or Orlando addresses. There are Horizon West networking groups, book clubs, sports leagues and business groups. The Horizon West Alliance, a volunteer advocacy group of residents, is always finding new ways to create connectivity “Horizon West has seen rapid growth over the last five years, making it one of the fastest growing areas in the United States,” says Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, whose district includes Horizon West. “Our challenge has been to provide infrastructure at a pace appropriate to that growth. We welcome all of the new Floridians to our community.” Among those feeling welcomed was Jennifer Pelcher and her family — which included her husband, Steve, and their sons, Jaxon and Brycen — who moved to Horizon West from Rochester, New York, in 2013. “Living here allows us to not only enjoy the theme parks, but we have downtown Orlando a short drive away,” says Pelcher, who owns and operates Abbott’s Frozen Custard in Hamlin’s town center. “We enjoy being close to the tourist attractions without living in the tourist area.” Pelcher also appreciates the neighborhood amenities. The family enjoys bike rides on the paths and trails that crisscross the area as well as the playgrounds and events such as neighborhood movie nights, food truck nights and themed events at the community pool. Both the Pelcher boys attend Summerlake Elementary, which
opened this year in Bridgewater Village. “It’s in our neighborhood, so it’s great that the kids are able to ride bikes now rather than ride the bus,” Pelcher says. Sheila Bater, another resident and business owner, moved to Horizon West eight years ago from North Carolina with her husband, Matt. In July 2019 they opened Hotworx, a 24-hour infrared fitness studio in the town center. Residents of Hamlin, they also love biking and appreciate the beautiful landscaping that highlights the community. And being so near, yet so far, Disney World also has its perks: “Watching the Disney fireworks from our house is a nice touch.” Obviously, living so close to the attractions appeals to many. Another advantage is living in a self-contained community where most public services and essential commercial activities are nearby.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION The Horizon West area is served by two premier hospitals, Health Central Hospital, operated by Orlando Health, and AdventHealth Winter Garden. There are also numerous urgentcare facilities. Orlando Health has opened an emergency room and medical pavilion on a 74-acre campus near S.R. 429 and Porter Road. Scheduled to open in early 2021 is a six-story, 214,000-square-foot hospital with 103 beds as well as an onsite laboratory and outpatient imaging services. In 2015, AdventHealth opened a 97,000-square-foot hospital in Winter Garden that features a state-of-the-art emergency department, imaging equipment, lab facilities and an outpatient surgical center as well as rehabilitation and sports medicine services. And in May 2019, AdventHealth opened a 72,000-squarefoot medical office building next to the facility in Winter Garden.
Orlando Health has opened an emergency room and medical pavilion on a 74-acre campus near S.R. 429 and New Independence Parkway. Opening in 2021 is a six-story, 214,000-square-foot hospital with 103 inpatient beds as well as an on-site laboratory and outpatient imaging services.
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In addition to an expanding healthcare scene, educational opportunities are more abundant than ever in southwest Orange County. The area is home to highly rated public and private elementary and secondary schools as well as Valencia College’s bustling 180-acre West Campus. Valencia owns a parcel in the town center for future expansion.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE (OR PERHAPS SIX) Horizon West’s master plan organizes each village around a village center and its larger neighborhoods around an elementary school. • Lakeside Village: 5,202 acres, established in 1997: Located in the eastern part of Horizon West, Lakeside is home to a variety of retail businesses and restaurants. The village includes the communities of Lakes of Windermere, Oasis Cove, Windermere Trails and Mabel Bridge. • Village of Bridgewater: 4,223 acres, established in 1999: At the heart of Bridgewater is Summerport Village, with an array of retail centers and restaurants. The neighborhoods of Summerport, Independence and Summerlake are in Bridgewater, which is in the northeast section of Horizon West. • Hamlin Town Center: 3,624 acres, established in 2004: In the western section of Horizon West, the Town Center is home to the largest commercial area, which includes a Walmart Supercenter and a movie theater. The Hamlin development and its growing Lake District are made up of residential and commercial sections. Eventually, Hamlin will have nearly 2 million square feet of mixed-use commercial space. • Village F: 2,551 acres, established in 2006: Home construction is underway, but commercial development has not yet started. Located in the southeast area of Horizon West, this section will be home to a new high school and a village center developed by Unicorp Development. • Village H: Hickory Nut, 2,975 acres, established in 2006: In the southwest section of Horizon West, this will be home to a future elementary school and middle school. Its neighborhoods are Waterleigh and Storey Grove. Plans for a village center have not been announced. • Village I: 129 acres, established in 2008: At the southern tip of Horizon West, there’s not yet any building here. Columnar Investments will develop most of Village I.
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Although Horizon West is served by many public schools, perhaps none have been more needed than new high schools. Windermere High School opened in 2017 at S.R. 535 and Ficquette Road. The 350,000-square-foot high school relieved crowding at West Orange High School. Another high school is under construction on Seidel Road and will open in August 2021 for grades 9-11. The first senior class will graduate in 2023. This school will relieve overcrowding at Windermere High. Sunset Park Elementary has been open since 2007. Independence Elementary opened in August 2015, while Bay Lake Elementary opened in 2016 in the Lakeside Village area. Two new elementary schools opened in 2019. They are Castleview in Lakeside and Water Spring in Village H (Hickory Nut). In addition, Horizon West Middle School in Lakeside opened in 2019 and Summerlake Elementary opened in Summerlake in August 2020. The high school in Village F, currently known as Site 113-H-W-4, will open in August 2021. The Orange County School District plans to open 19 new schools by 2028, seven of them in Horizon West.
RURAL AMBIANCE, URBAN AMENITIES Southwest Orange County has always been both rural and urban. It’s wealthy and middle-class. It’s defined by internationally known attractions and picture-postcard small towns. It’s forward looking and steeped in history. And, of course, it’s dotted by shimmering lakes — more than 200 of them — along with pristine natural areas where wildlife still thrives. Today southwest Orange County is also a regional shopping and dining mecca. For example, Central Florida’s famed “Restaurant Row” stretches along Sand Lake Road near the upscale Mall at Millenia, with its world-class department stores — Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus — and premium boutiques. Southwest Orange County is also home to much of Walt Disney World, including the Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs and Epcot as well as Disney’s resort properties and its four championship golf courses. Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando are also in southwest Orange County as are major shopping destinations such as the Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves and West Oaks Mall. The sector encompasses three incorporated areas, Winter Garden, Windermere and Oakland. Windermere proper is nestled on an isthmus between several lakes on the Butler Chain, which includes lakes Butler, Tibet, Down, Sheen, Louise and Chase as well as Pocket Lake, Lake Blanche, Wauseon Bay, Lake Isleworth and Little Fish Lake. Few areas of Central Florida are more beautiful and unspoiled than the parks and preservation areas found in southwest Orange County. The Tibet Butler Preserve, for example, contains more than four miles of interpretive hiking trails and elevated boardwalks radiating from the Vera Carter Environmental Center, which features wildlife exhibits and hosts a special environmental studies series for fifth graders. The Oakland Nature Preserve encompasses 128 acres of
Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas Hamlin is the brand’s seventh upscale dine-in movie theater in the U.S. and only its second in Florida (the other is in Jupiter). It features fully reclining leather seats, waiter service, gourmet dining and a full bar.
natural shoreline on Lake Apopka, Florida’s third-largest lake. The boardwalk to Lake Apopka is the centerpiece, offering dramatic views along the lakeshore. The preserve’s Green Trail is a loop off the boardwalk through a shady oak hammock. And its Uplands Trail is a network of short pathways through the sandhills that connect to the West Orange Trail.
EASY ACCESSIBILITY Also key to the area’s appeal is its convenient transportation network. In addition to S.R. 429, which opened in 2005, interchanges and local roads have been completed to make getting in and out of Horizon West a breeze. The New Independence Parkway interchange (Exit 15) was created when New Independence Parkway was extended from S.R. 429 east for nearly a mile to Schoolhouse Pond Road, which leads to the community of Independence. A four-lane road, Hamlin Groves Trail, parallels S.R. 429. It originated at New Independence Parkway and runs south to Summerlake Park Boulevard, which leads to the community of Summerlake. These roads jump-started development of Hamlin, a major component of the 3,700-acre town center, by creating easily accessible tracts for big-box commercial development. Recently completed is a 1.5-mile extension of Hamlin Groves Trail north and then east, where it wraps around the SportsPlex and connects to Tiny Road near the entrance to the community of Orchard Hills. The extension will help accommodate traffic that new commercial development around the interchange — including a Walmart Supercenter and a Publix Supermarket — will generate. About two miles to the south on S.R. 429, another interchange was opened at Schofield Road (Exit 13). That interchange, which
marks the southern boundary of the town center, is about six miles north of Western Way, which leads to the Magic Kingdom and Disney World. But the biggest transportation news impacting Horizon West is the announcement of Wellness Way, a western extension of New Independence Parkway through a vast undeveloped tract between the town center and U.S. Highway 27 in Lake County. A partnership between Hamlin honcho Boyd Development and other landowners along the Wellness Way corridor is building the 5.5-mile-long road, which currently ends at Avalon Road west of S.R. 429. The road’s completion will take three years and at least $15 million to build and will enable other developers to potentially build at least 16,000 homes. That’s a lot of new customers for businesses in and around Hamlin — and an easy way for them to get there. In short, Horizon West, in addition to being a self-contained community rich with its own amenities, has the added advantage of a location squarely in the center of Central Florida’s most dynamic and exciting region.
THE RIGHT DECISION After 15 years, Dunkelberger’s family of four knows they made the right decision to move to Horizon West. For most residents, however, those growing pains are part of the journey. “To understand what’s coming and to know what this area will become balances the growing pains of being a part of something new,” says Dunkelberger. She adds: “The southwest area of Orange County still has much growth to enjoy, with more schools, shops, services and roads to come. I’m excited to know that we’re paving the way for others, and to see what our post-pandemic story will look like.” Horizon W est Update H 1 1
Scott T. Boyd and his team at Boyd Development Corp. are focused on making Hamlin a lively and inviting place, where residents will enjoy proximity to every imaginable amenity. Plus, they say, itâ€™ll be a place where Central Floridians, regardless of where they live, will be eager to visit. H1 2 H o r izo n W e st U pdate
Here’s Hamlin WELCOME TO HORIZON WEST’S VIBRANT HEART. BY MICK LOCHRIDGE
he approximately 1,000 acres of Hamlin, the vibrant heart of the 3,624-acre town center, was a lake-dotted blank slate on which developer Scott T. Boyd could create a regional destination that would rival, for example, Winter Park. And he’s doing just that. Hamlin is rapidly morphing from an expanse of old groves — tangy Hamlin oranges were once grown there — into what will soon become a shopping and entertainment mecca to rival anything else in Central Florida. Not surprisingly, homes there are selling as quickly as they can be built. Boyd and his team at Boyd Development Corp. are focused on making Hamlin a lively and inviting place, where residents will enjoy proximity to every imaginable amenity. Plus, they say, it’ll be a place where Central Floridians, regardless of where they live, will be eager to visit. How about a movie in a state-of-the-art cineplex, followed by a late-night dinner at a gourmet restaurant? Or window-shopping along a lively, tree-lined street bordered by intriguing boutiques? Or a leisurely stroll along a scenic boardwalk that hugs the shores of a pristine lake? Or a bracing jaunt through a series of beautifully landscaped parks linked by a pedestrian trail network? Then, when it’s time to call it a night, perhaps home is just minutes away in a brand-new lakefront neighborhood, where the top builders in the U.S. have pulled out all the stops with eye-popping designs and state-of-the-art technology. “We want Hamlin to be a destination,” says Ken Kupp, a Boyd Development principal. “It’ll have an actively programmed town center, with at least 100 to 150 events a year. It’s a classic live/ work/play community.”
Valued at $1 billion, Hamlin was kick-started in 2014 when the New Independence Parkway interchange was opened off S.R. 429. New Independence Parkway was extended east for nearly a mile to Schoolhouse Pond Road, which leads to the community of Independence. A four-lane road, Hamlin Grove Trail, was built parallel to S.R. 429, and runs south from New Independence Parkway to Summerlake Park Boulevard, which leads to the community of Summerlake. Once the roads were in place, the pace quickened. Now open on the 64-acre northwest quadrant of the interchange is a 400,000-square-foot retail complex that includes a 193,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter as well as about a half-dozen outparcels with shops and restaurants. A second retail complex, this one clocking in at 200,000 square feet, occupies the 66-acre southwest quadrant. It’s anchored by a 54,000-square-foot Publix Supermarket, which opened in 2018. Some of those businesses are owned and operated by Horizon West residents. Sheila and Matt Bater, for example, own and operate Hotworx, a 24-hour infrared fitness studio that opened in July 2019 on New Independence Parkway just south of the Walmart and near Starbucks. With virtual instructors, the studio offers exercise programs created for users to experience infrared heat absorption while completing a 30-minute isometric workout or a 15-minute high intensity interval training session. “This is a great location to open a business due to the fact that the developers are amazing, and the area continues to grow both in residential housing as well as local shops and eateries,” says Sheila Bater. “It’s convenient to get to and there’s ample parking. Horizon W est Update H 1 3
We absolutely love living and working here which eventually will be connected to the in Hamlin and look forward to being part existing 22-mile West Orange Trail — and of the future growth of the area.” a lakefront park accessible by foot, bike or With her Abbott’s Frozen Custard shop, golf cart. Jennifer Pelcher has transplanted a small East of the lifestyle district, an upscale slice of her hometown of Rochester, New 316-unit apartment complex dubbed York, into Horizon West. Located on the LakeWalk at Hamlin has been completed. south side of New Independence ParkIn addition, two luxury apartment projway, the business opened in July 2019. ects are currently under construction that “Abbott’s was founded in the early will open within the next six months: The 1900s in Rochester, which is where (husLodge, a 250-unit community along New band) Steve and I grew up,” she says. “We Independence Parkway; and Overture, the didn’t go out for ice cream — we went out 180-unit community for 55-plus residents Horizon West is a perfect fit for entrepreneurs Steve and Jennifer Pelcher for Abbott’s. It’s a local favorite to Rochalong State Road 429 south of Publix. and their sons Jaxon and Brysen. ester. When we moved to Horizon West, In the town center, about 200,000 we knew it would be the perfect fit for the square feet of commercial space is under community.” development. Coming in the next 12 to 18 months: a mixture of It’s a good location in part because Horizon West is one of restaurant, retail, service, entertainment and office space. the fastest-growing communities in the U.S., adds Sheila Bater, There are four active neighborhoods in Hamlin: Sanctuary at who has lived with her family in Summerlake since 2013. “With Hamlin by Dream Finders Homes (priced from the low $300s), so many young families moving to the area, we needed a family and Hamlin Reserve by Ashton Woods Homes (priced from the friendly spot to take the kids,” she says. low $300s). Taylor Morrison has two neighborhoods: The Cove The southeast quadrant — the Lake District — encompasses at Hamlin (priced from the mid-$300s) and Overlook at Hamlin a 40,000-square-foot, dine-in cineplex boasting 10 screens and (priced from the low $400s). stadium seating. Operated by Dallas-based Cinépolis USA, the Orlando Health, which owns about 80 acres along the south complex offers perhaps the most luxurious moviegoing experiside of Porter Road, has opened an emergency room and a ence in the region. medical pavilion. In 2021 the healthcare provider plans to “Cinépolis Hamlin” is the brand’s seventh upscale dine-in open a six-story, 214,000-square-foot hospital with 103 beds as movie theater in the U.S. and only its second in Florida (the other well as an onsite laboratory and outpatient imaging services. is in Jupiter). It features fully reclining leather seats, waiter service, In addition, a new proton therapy center is under construcgourmet dining and a full bar. tion across New Independence Parkway from LakeWalk. It’s a Coming soon are some exciting restaurants that are new joint venture between Knoxville, Tennessee-based Provision to the market, including Ford’s Garage, a national gourmetHealthcare and Hamlin Retail Partners West, a subsidiary of burger chain, and Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza, which specialBoyd Development and Schrimsher Properties. Proton therapy izes in house-made pastas, as well as pizzas, sandwiches and is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons rather than calzones baked in its 800-degree coal-fired ovens. A longtime X-rays to treat the disease. local favorite, Bosphorus, based in Winter Park and with a locaThe center will encompass three treatment rooms and use tion in Lake Nona, has opened its Hamlin location, bringing the latest proton systems technology of Provision Healthcare, delicious Turkish cuisine to Horizon West. an affiliate of ProNova Solutions. There are fewer than 25 proton Besides the anchors, there are already 14 buildings with 26 therapy centers operating in the U.S., including one at the UF tenants open and operating, and more are on the way. Like Health Cancer Center-Orlando Health campus near downtown. much of the commercial architecture in Hamlin, the center’s In addition, related medical office buildings and cancer-treatlook is sophisticated with a touch of industrial chic. ment facilities will be developed around the center. Anchored by the theater is the jewel of Hamlin — a charming “The Hamlin proton center will be a great addition to the lifestyle center built on 28 acres on Lake Hancock. There, visimedical community and a real benefit to the residents of Centors will enjoy an Old Florida ambience and plenty of inviting tral Florida,” says Boyd. “We look forward to Provision bringparks and public areas. There’ll also be events galore, such as ing their state-of-the-art technology, along with their culture music festivals and art shows. of care, to our Central Florida community.” “The opportunity to have access to Lake Hancock makes this Elsewhere in Hamlin, Valencia College has 150 acres on a really special place,” adds Boyd Development’s Kupp. “There Schofield Road and will likely build a branch campus, although aren’t many opportunities like that left in Central Florida.” specific plans haven’t been announced. The lifestyle center will be packed with retail and dining options Clearly, there’s a lot going on in Hamlin. “We have the ability as well as a boardwalk and boat slips, making it accessible by to create a great plan and to execute it,” Boyd says. “We can do watercraft. The boardwalk will link to a multiuse trail system — something that will stand the test of time.” H1 4 H o r izo n W e st U pdate
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Spanning more than 1,400 acres dotted by a dozen lakes and clear-water ponds, D.R. Hortonâ€™s Waterleigh is Horizon Westâ€™s largest community. It offers two well-equipped clubhouses and amenity centers. Single-family homes in Waterleigh are priced from the $200s to the mid-$400s, while townhomes are priced from the $400s.
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Build A Future
HORIZON WEST’S DOZENS OF NEIGHBORHOODS OFFER CHOICES GALORE FOR NEW-HOME BUYERS. BY Randy Noles
n Central Florida, with its hundreds of bodies of water, most lakeview homesites have been built out for decades. To live on a natural lake in these parts, you’ve usually got to buy an older home — and in some cases, tear it down and rebuild in an older neighborhood. Horizon West has changed all that. With dozens of lakes and clear-water ponds, buyers have a choice of numerous lakefront homesites and state-of-the-art homes in brand-new, heavily amenitized neighborhoods. Take Waterleigh, for example. Horizon West’s biggest community, by D.R. Horton (along with a subsidiary, Emerald Homes), could ultimately contain up to 3,600 homes. A community garden, mini-golf, a sports field and two resort-style clubhouse amenity centers provide a comforting and fun-filled community environment. The community’s 1,400-acre site is dotted with more than a dozen bodies of water, including Hickory Nut Lake. D.R. Horton’s homes, many of which have water views, range in size from 1,567 to 3,327 square feet and are priced from the high $200s to the mid-$400s. The company also offers townhomes priced from the high $200s. Emerald’s homes in Waterleigh are priced from the low $400s. On Lake Hartley, in Enclave at Hamlin, Taylor Morrison Homes is offering floorplans ranging in size from 1,992 to more than 4,100 square feet. Enclave at Hamlin offers a community pool overlooking the lake and easy access to Hamlin’s Town Center. Prices range from the mid $300s to the high $400s. Lennar Homes is continuing its success in the Waterside community with Waterside The Cove. Located on John’s Lake, the community offers a clubhouse with fitness center, picnic area,
swimming pool, playground and tot lot. Waterside: The Cove is located less than two miles from downtown Winter Garden. Home sizes and prices were not available at press-time. The Highlands at Summerlake Groves by K. Hovnanian Homes, offers single-family homes from the high $600s. Amenities include tennis courts, a swimming pool and dog park. Within the past year, K. Hovnanian Homes opened Winding Bay, a community of single-family homes priced from the mid$300s. Eight floorplans are offered with homes ranging in size from 2,156 to more than 4,000 square feet. Joining Winding Bay is Winding Bay Preserve, where townhomes are priced from the low $300s. Toll Brothers is building Lakeshore, a luxury community with an amenity center, neighborhood parks, and biking and walking trails. There are two single-family home collections from which
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At Royal Cypress Preserve by Toll Brothers, amenities include a 4,300-square-foot clubhouse flanked by a zero-entry pool. Other amenities include a state-of-the-art fitness center, neighborhood parks and a picturesque dock for canoeing or kayaking. Homes in the community are priced starting the high $500s.
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Park Square Homes’ Shenandoah model (above) in Ravenna is a spacious 3,145 square feet with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a two-car garage. It’s priced starting at $437,999. In the Hawksmoor neighborhood (below), Mattamy Homes is offering townhomes priced from the $300s. Shown is the gathering room (top) and the kitchen (bottom) of the Barrington model.
to choose, with prices starting in the low $500s. The company’s Royal Cypress Preserve offers nine different floorplans priced from the mid-$500s. Residents enjoy a private clubhouse, a resort-style swimming pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center as well as neighborhood parks and a picturesque dock for canoeing or kayaking. In its Hawksmoor community, Mattamy Homes offers both townhomes and single-family homes with unique architectural appointments inspired by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Townhomes, sized starting at 1,599 square feet, are priced from the low $300s. Single-family homes, which range in size from 1,682 to more than 4,000 square feet, are priced from the high $300s. Park Square Homes has brought its popular single-family home designs to Horizon West in Ravenna, where its prices start in the mid-$400s. But you need to hurry — this community, which features a pool and cabana, is in close-out at press time. Jones Homes has recently opened Avalon Cove, a lakefront community nestled between Hickory Nut Lake and Avalon Road. The company is offering 11 floorplans ranging in size from 2,867 to more than 5,400 square feet with prices from the mid-$600s to more than $1 million. Avalon Cove is just minutes from popular shopping, dining and entertainment areas such as Winter Garden Village, Hamlin Town Center and more. Horizon W est Update H 1 9
Winter Gardenâ€™s Downtown Historic District combines all the charm of a vintage Florida citrus community with trendy restaurants and boutiques. The popular Winter Garden Farmers Market (below) sets up downtown each Saturday. It has been recognized as one of the countryâ€™s best farmers markets by the American Farmland Trust. Bikers (bottom) and hikers routinely stop at downtown restaurants and shops for a cold drink or a bite to eat.
FLORIDA WINTER GARDEN HEARKENS TO THE REGION’S JUICY PAST. BY MICK LOCHRIDGE
inter Garden, the northern neighbor of Horizon West, boasts a residential and commercial energy that can make nearby cities green with envy. Once a thriving center for the Central Florida citrus industry, today the city of 48,000 is a destination place for visitors, residents and businesses. Incorporated in 1908, the city sits on the southern shore of Lake Apopka and is 20 minutes west of Orlando. “Winter Garden is a great community to both live and work,” says City Manager Mike Bollhoefer. “We’re the best small city in the state and the cultural and commercial capital of west Orange County.” One of the most picturesque of any in the region, the downtown district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It covers about 100 acres in the general area of Woodland, Tremaine, Henderson and Lakeview streets. West Plant Street, which runs east and west through the district, is home to several dining and shopping choices. In addition, the popular Winter Garden Farmers Market sets up downtown each Saturday. It has been recognized as one of the country’s best farmers markets by the American Farmland Trust. (The market continues to operate, but visitors should check its website at wintergardenfarmersmarket.com for COVID19 rules.) Residents of nearby Horizon West are big fans. “We love going to the Winter Garden Farmers Market on the weekends,” says Jennifer Pelcher, who lives in the Bridgewater Village with her family. Plant Street Market, housing more than 20 merchants including the popular Crooked Can microbrewery, opened in 2014 on the site of a demolished apartment complex. The market houses
farm-to-table restaurants, a bakery, a butcher, a chocolatier, a wine bar and various sellers of artisanal food items. The $2 million project extended downtown’s footprint beyond City Hall and further solidified Winter Garden’s reputation as a foodie’s dream and as a reminder of the city’s long history with agriculture. The area’s earliest settlers were primarily farmers. A yearround growing season, fertile soil and easy access to railroads serving Northern markets meant that agriculture of all varieties flourished. As freezes began to wipe out the Central Florida’s citrus industry, the area’s economy became more dependent upon tourism. Winter Garden benefited from its proximity to Walt Disney World and other attractions. But it was not animatronics, roller coasters or whales that gave Winter Garden a new identity — it was bicycles. In 1986, the non-profit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was established to work with local governments around the country to convert abandoned railbeds into trails for walking, jogging and biking. That lead to the West Orange Trail, a 22-mile route that runs from Oakland to Apopka — and through the heart of Winter Garden along Plant Street. The trail’s Winter Garden Station, with a bike shop and rentals, restrooms, water fountains and a playground, sits just east of downtown. Bikers and hikers routinely stop at downtown restaurants and shops for a cold drink or a bite to eat. Local boosters and businesspeople were happy to welcome the visitors, many of whom had never been to Winter Garden and were delighted by its picture-postcard ambience and its neighborly attitude. Horizon W est Update H 2 1
Plant Street Market, housing more than 20 merchants including the popular Crooked Can microbrewery, opened in 2014 on the site of a demolished apartment complex.
Today, about 1.3 million people annually visit downtown Winter Garden. Among them are residents of Horizon West. “We love the downtown Winter Garden area and its quaint, small-town feel,” says Sheila Bater, who lives with her husband in Hamlin. Earlier this year the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognized the city as the state’s 10th and newest Trail Town for providing trail users with goods and services while promoting healthy lifestyles. Winter Garden also has joined other Florida cities as members of the Coast-to-Coast Connector, a multiuse trail that will link communities between St. Petersburg and Titusville. An icon of downtown Winter Garden is the restored Garden Theatre, a circa-1930s movie house. Now a performing-arts center, it hosts live theater, dance and musical programs as well as the annual Starlight Film Festival. In addition, the city partnered with the Winter Garden Arts Association to convert the old Boyd Street Fire Station into a hub for visual art that now houses a gallery and a teaching facility. It’s the first step toward creation of an Art and Design District, which will offer artists both living space and studio space. The city’s Heritage Foundation operates two museums: The Winter Garden Heritage Museum, located in the old Atlantic Coast Line Depot, and the Central Florida Railroad Museum, located in the old Tavares & Gulf Railroad Depot. Both museums offer free admission. Residents and visitors looking for a special night out can visit the critically acclaimed Chef’s Table at the Edgewater Hotel on Plant Street. It offers a three-course prix fixe dinner with optional H2 2 H o r izo n W e st U pdate
wine pairings. Other dining options include Thai Blossom, Moon Cricket Grille and the Winter Garden Pizza Company. Diners and shoppers have even more choices in the Winter Garden Village, located off Daniels Road and just northwest of S.R. 429. Winter Garden and Ocoee, its neighbor to the east, are developing an economic corridor that connects their downtowns. Their goal is to turn a six-mile roadway, called East Plant Street in Winter Garden and West Franklin Street in Ocoee and populated by warehouses and auto repair shops, into inviting city gateways at the State Road 429 interchange. City Manager Bollhoefer says businesses are attracted to Winter Garden because of its “high quality of life, disposable income of the residents and the fact that the future of the city looks very bright.” He expects population to grow by 10,000 people in the next decade. He also points to three other major projects: • Dillard Street. One of the main north-south thoroughfares, it will be reconfigured from a five-lane road into a three-lane road with three roundabouts. “This will be a catalyst for significant redevelopment of the mile-long stretch of road,” Bollhoefer says. • Tucker Ranch Park. Located just west of Avalon Road south of Florida’s Turnpike, the 200-acre park sits along the marshy shoreline of Johns Lake. The city opened Phase One of the park in 2018. Amenities include paved parking, restrooms, a playground, a pavilion, benches and picnic tables along with trails throughout the property. Leashed dogs are welcome on trails. Plans call for wetland and lake observation walkways next year. “This will be the first health- and wellness-focused park in the state of Florida,” Bollhoefer says. • East Winter Garden Redevelopment. In 2018 a plan was launched to redevelop this historic African-American community with the goal of creating “one Winter Garden” while adding affordable housing and encouraging new business development along Plant Street. “Our goal is not gentrification,” says Bollhoefer, who adds that public spaces and recreational opportunities will also be improved.
HOME CENTRAL FLORIDA EDITION
Homebuyer: Central Florida Edition, publisher of Horizon West Update, is an award-winning new-home publication from Winter Park Publishing Company LLC. The company also publishes real estate maps and maintains a comprehensive database of new homes at its website, thefloridahomebuyer.com. For more information call 407-448-8414. MICK LOCHRIDGE Editor
THERESA SWANSON Group Publisher
CAROLYN EDMUNDS Art Director
HARRY WESSEL Contributing Editor ON THE COVER: A street scene in Hamlin.
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