NEW: Work begins on homes at former Royal Palm Beach water plant site

5:55 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 Local
This rendering shows The Palermo, one of the home models offered by Lennar in the BellaSera community in Royal Palm Beach. (Provided)

New homes soon will rise from the ground where Royal Palm Beach’s water treatment plant once stood.

The 385-home BellaSera development by Lennar will be the largest of its kind in the village since PortoSol was built in the late 2000s, Mayor Fred Pinto said. He and other Royal Palm Beach council members attended a ribbon-cutting and groundbreaking Thursday with Lennar and Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce officials.

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“As a village, we took our time in having this happen,” Pinto said of the wait between bulldozing the water treatment plant in 2009 and sealing the deal in 2015. Lennar paid the village $35 million for the 154-acre property off Crestwood Boulevard just west of H.L. Johnson Elementary School.

The money went to pay off the village’s debts, including the bond issue used to build Commons Park, Pinto said.

“That was part of our long-term strategy,” Pinto said. “… It was a series of intelligent business decisions that we made over a period of time that put us on the path to where we are now.”

Every house in BellaSera will be one of Lennar’s Connected Homes, where technology is built into the house. That includes Wi-Fi Certification, a first-of-its-kind design approved by the Wi-Fi Alliance. That means no Wi-Fi dead spots in the house, said Lennar Palm Atlantic Division President Dan Grosswald.

“This will be our first completely Wi-Fi Certified community,” he said.

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Homes also will include Alexa by Amazon, a voice-control system that allows residents to play music, listen to news, see who is at the front door and more.

“The target buyer here … is a person that is more in tune with technology and energy efficiency,” Grosswald said. “We want to anticipate those needs and meet those needs.”

He added that Lennar’s partnership with Amazon — a first among homebuilders — has been a big selling point. “We can see a marked difference where that is part of the home, there is more of an interest in buying,” he said.

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Home prices in BellaSera start in the low $400,000s, with base prices stretching to near $600,000. One- and two-story models are available with anywhere from three to five bedrooms, two to five-and-a-half bathrooms and two- or three-car garages.

The neighborhood will be gated and include a clubhouse with a fitness center, pool, tennis and basketball courts, and playground.

“We consider this a flagship community for us in Palm Beach County,” Grosswald said.