Ave Maria FL Development History

Ave Maria Construction Begins in 2005

Construction started in 2005 for Ave Maria University, the town center, which includes retail and the town's first homes (the Residences at La Piazza), and for the construction of the k-12 school.

The 5,000 acres initially approved for the town of Ave Maria Fl were agricultural lands owned by Barron Collier Companies (BCC). BCC donated part of this land to the University as an incentive to locate here. The BCC spin-off company, Ave Maria Development became the lead developer for the town.

Year 2005 was a very optimistic time to build in the Naples FL area. New construction homes were selling so quickly, that there was little new construction in the Naples area to purchase at that time. Buying demand at that time was fueled by easy credit lending practices, along with sky rocketing home prices.

First Home Closings in 2007 

In just two years, classes had started at the University and the k-12 school, and nearly 300 homes had been built, but not all sold. Homes had been built in Emerson Park (Pulte), Hampton Village (Divosta), Middlebrooke (Pulte), at the Residences at La Piazza (Ave Maria Development), Del Webb and Bellera Walk (Divosta).

Additionally Panther Run golf course at Del Webb was opening, site clearing was happening for Coquina at Maple Ridge (CC Homes) and for Liberty Park (Divosta). Liberty Park was the area surrounding the k-12 school, which was open.

The Middlebrooke townhomes were mostly purchased by the University, and the Residences at La Piazza had been sold to many of the town's benefactors and investors.

The builder Pulte had big ambitions for Ave Maria. Pulte companies were building in several different neighborhoods with Divosta (Pulte owned) planning to complete over 2,000 homes in different communities, also the Pulte owned company Del Webb was planning on building thousands of homes, centered around a golf course and upscale amenities. 

Year 2007 was also the beginning of the downswing in the US housing market resulting from the housing bubble that occurred at that time. 

Ave Maria First Developed Properties

University of Ave Maria
Hampton Village
Middlebrooke Townhomes
Del Webb Panter Run
Residences La Piazza

Housing Downturn 2008 - 2011

As with the rest of the country during the housing downturn, home sales dropped off dramatically at Ave Maria. New home closings shrunk to just a handful a year. 

Emerson Park was the lowest priced single family home community in Ave Maria with low HOA fees. Emerson had the first home closings in 2007, at a price averaging $270,000. Owners at Emerson that sold during the bottom of the downturn had an average selling price of $150,000.

A total build-out of 235 homes planned at Emerson was expected to take a few years to complete. Instead, it took until the housing recovery, which began in 2012, but didn't gain momentum until 2015. Home sales at Emerson were strong again and were sold out by 2018. A few lots were held back from having homes built at Emerson, to be built on at a later date.

Maple Ridge and Liberty Park which had planned to start building, delayed their home construction plans until 2014 and 2016 respectively. By 2015, all communities in Ave Maria were in full construction mode again.

Pulte Doubles Down at Ave Maria FL

In 2007 Divosta plans for its Bellera neighborhood was to have 1,800 homes, built around a large town center that included restaurants, resort pools, lap pools, tennis, fitness center, car wash and many more amenities. It was designed to be a pedestrian friendly community, with walking bridges connecting streets at the end of street cul-de-sacs. This type of community design had been very successful for Divosta in southwest Florida and continues to be successful in other areas today.

But because of the housing downturn, only a few homes had been sold in Bellera by 2009. In 2010, before the housing market turn-around, Pulte announced big changes in their plans for Ave Maria. They made a $20 million commitment to build a large community center in Del Webb and to build new home models. They made Del Webb a 55+ community to fit the Del Webb brand of an active lifestyle community for adults. Plus, 55+ buyers were more active in the housing market than other demographics. The decision paid off, as Del Webb was having success, considering they were selling in the middle of a housing slump. By 2013 Dell Webb's homes built exceeded their original home building start at Ave Maria in 2007.

Because of Pulte's new direction at Ave Maria, Divosta released its purchase option for the property intended for the Bellera. They offered the few existing residents in Bellera to become part of the Del Webb 55+ community, which they did. A portion of the original Pulte - Divosta owned land intended for Bellera had been platted for 150 homes - became part of the Del Webb package of amenities. 
Bellera Original Site Configuration

Building 2015 to 2019

By the end of 2014 the number of homes in Ave Maria was double the initial 300 homes built in 2007. It took seven years of building in total to match the first year. Ave Maria FL home building was ready to explode. 

By 2015 the building in Ave Maria was starting to meet the original expectations of the 2007 start. CC Homes' Maples Ridge had its first completed homes and was also Ave Maria's largest builder that year. All the original communities from the start of Ave Maria were building with full steam ahead (except for La Plazza and Middlebrooke which had been sold out in 2007).

Years 2015, 2016 and 2017 each had over 300 homes built, exceeding the 2007 home build effort. During this period, CC Homes was building in three subdivisions, Maple Ridge Reserve, Coquina at Maple Ridge and Silverwood at Maple Ridge. And also by this time, Hampton Village, Maple Ridge Reserve and Emerson Park had been sold out.

Building 2020 to 2023

The biggest impact on Ave Maria construction, since Pulte changed its Bellera plans in 2010 was the Lennar purchase of the property originally intended for Bellera Walk. This purchase was for the development of The National Golf and Country Club at Ave Maria. Lennar completed nearly 100 homes in 2021 and just under 200 in 2022. That made Lennar the largest home builder in Ave Maria for 2022. 

All other builders at Ave Maria FL had chosen to label their communities as subdivisions of the Ave Maria Development. Lennar took the more traditional approach of having the National be the main development, with several different subdivisions within the main development. Homes at the National are still part of the Ave Maria Master Association, same as all other homeo in Ave Maria.

The National is Lennar's popular bundled golf design. All owners of the 1,280 homes to be built are automatically members of the Country Club. Club membership is included with the home purchase. Owners of approximately 800 homes will also be golf club members.  

The National added a new demographic group of buyers to Ave Maria, that otherwise would not have purchased there.

Another change during this time is Pulte Homes rebranded the Liberty Park area surrounding the k-12 school to be Avalon Park.

In Early 2023 Ave Maria announced it has exceeded 4,000 total home sales, meaning 1,200 new home sales in just over a two year period.
Experienced Naples Area Real Estate Agent
(C) 2024 Tom Doyle