A recent foreclosure has temporarily stalled city plans to build a new nature park on the south side of Lake Lulu, a new trail connecting the south side of the city to the AdventHealth Fieldhouse and some additional city infrastructure.
Jim Lentz, who had been the developer for the Harmony at Lake Eloise project, had worked with City of Winter Haven staff for the past couple of years to put together a plan to construct high-end homes between Lake Lulu and Lake Eloise. The project, as planned, would incorporate multiple features that, additionally, would provide benefits to all city residents.
Lentz had wanted to build a subdivision that featured a high volume of solar energy usage, that pumped treated wastewater into the ground to help the Upper Floridan Aquifer recharge, and that would donate land for public trails, a new nature park and a city-owned dark fibre cable expansion.
Those plans were put on hold when the owner of the land filed for foreclosure against Lentz for non-payment in February 2020.
After a judge foreclosed on the property, the owner proceeded to sell the property in a private land deal to the Forestar Group, which was completed in December. The Forestar Group is a land developer with a strategic relationship with D.R. Horton — the largest homebuilder in the United States.
The topic of how the Harmony project was progressing came up during a Jan. 5 Winter Haven Planning Commission meeting, during which Commission Chair Craig Fuller asked for a status update. City staff present replied by sharing news of the foreclosure and explained that, regardless of who owns the property, the Planned Urban Development agreement that Lentz made with the city would still be in effect.
The new owner could scrap those plans and request new zoning on the property, but that has not happened yet. If the new owner wants to change how the property is developed, the new owner would need to have that process done through the public hearing process.
The Sun reached out to a representative for the new owner to inquire about plans for the property, with D.R. Horton Investor Relations Manager Bethany Carle saying it was too early for the group to comment on the Harmony project, but more information will be shared as it becomes available.