unfinished home interior with no one working

Last week, Del Webb halted plans to continue with their much-hyped La Cresta active adult community near Orlando. La Cresta opened in 2006 in the planned golf community of Ridgewood Lakes.

It was to offer 1,900 homes and a 31,000 square foot recreation center that would have included a state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, and outdoor activities, such as golf, tennis, nature trails, canoeing, horseshoes, bocce ball, and fishing. At this time, the future of the La Cresta project and the implications for current homeowners is unsure. The community is now home to 90 residents, a boarded-up sales office, empty lots, half-built homes, and an activities center in the beginning stages of construction.

Florida Real Estate Hit Hard

Real estate in Florida has been hard hit in the last three years and even active adult communities are not immune to the downturn. Numerous foreclosures have flooded the market and driven down prices across the state. Under these conditions, builders are hard-pressed to sell new homes or spec homes that are not yet built.

Del Webb is a reputed name as an active adult community builder and this move is uncharacteristic for the company, which has built dozens of communities across Florida and the rest of the country. This adult community, located near Orlando, was to join the company’s other current properties in Florida, Del Webb Ponte Vedra, Stone Creek, Del Webb Naples, BellaTrae, and Sweetwater.

What Did La Cresta Offer?

La Cresta offered single-family homes from 1,300 to 2,300 square feet that were priced from the high $100’s. It is located a few miles from shopping, dining and medical facilities, and was located in a region favored by many second-home buyers. Presently, ninety residents live in the La Cresta active adult community in Davenport.

With half-built homes and the skeleton of an activity center, Del Webb claims that the landowner, JL Land Development, did not provide adequate permits for the project. Del Webb is currently in litigation with the owner of the land and has promised current homeowners that it will fulfill its promises on warranties for any unfinished homes.

Del Webb recently took over a property in Tucson, Arizona, that had been under construction by K. Hovnanian for $8 million and also acquired Centex Homes for $1.3 billion in April. These purchases make it evident that Del Webb has available cash. It is hoped that when the land issues are resolved, Del Webb will be able to continue their plans for construction of the active adult community at La Cresta.

Update (April 2010): Del Webb will continue with construction of La Cresta under the new name Del Webb Orlando.