Neal Communities expands south into Lee, Collier counties

jsalman@bradenton.comFebruary 2, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Neal Communities, one of the area’s largest home builders, will expand into Lee and Collier counties -- the epicenter of Florida’s housing market, the company announced late Wednesday.

Neal will partner with the real estate firm Cameratta Companies to develop a project on Three Oaks Parkway in Estero slated for 120 paired villas, that will range in size from 1,400 to 1,550 square feet. A tentative opening is planned for early 2013.

Neal Communities President Pat Neal also is in negotiations to buy additional parcels of undeveloped land in the Fort Myers and Naples market this year, with hopes to develop there as well. The company declined to elaborate.

While all operations initially will continue to run through Neal Communities’ current headquarters in Lakewood Ranch, the developer is planning to open a satellite office in Lee or Collier counties within the next six months.

“We have always taken a very personal and hands-on approach to all our projects including accessibility to our homeowners,” Neal said in a statement. “Expanding outside Manatee County means we need to have a local presence and are working to get an office and team of local executives and subcontractors in place before fall.”

The Estero condos will closely mirror the company’s models at Arlington Cove, which are priced from the high $100,000s.

The project marks the first time Neal Communities will migrate out of the Manatee-Sarasota area. The builders southernmost community now is Arlington Cove, which is located in Englewood.

Neal Communities also is engaged in preliminary talks of expanding out east.

“It’s a market not too much unlike the Bradenton-Sarasota market,” said Leisa Weintraub, vice president of marketing, about the expansion. “There’s a lot of similarities.”

Neal Communities will be featured as “America’s Best Builder” in the March edition of the national industry trade publication, Builder Magazine.

With designs ranging from cottages in Forrest Creek to $1 million mansions in Lakewood Ranch Country Club, the company’s variety of homes and aggressive capital positioning has helped it better withstand the recession, a company spokeswoman said.

Along with the Lee and Collier expansion, the developer also this year plans to build a massive Grand Palm subdivision in Venice and a 140-site community on State Road 70 in Manatee dubbed Fairfield.

Neal Communities closed on 376 homes in 2011, with more than 400 gross sales. The company reported total revenue last year of $126.3 million.

To date, Neal Communities has built more than 8,600 homes across Southwest Florida. The developer also runs a title company, mortgage company, pool company and interior design service.

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095.

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