Move over, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The names that have lent bragging rights to many an upscale golf community are about to see some stiff competition. In March, Lake City, Fla.–based developer Bradley Dicks broke ground on The Oaks, a 1,222-acre parcel slated to become the world's first “O'Connor Signature” equestrian community.
Branded and endorsed by Olympians Karen and David O'Connor, the designation certifies that the community plan meets rigorous safety, programming, and animal husbandry standards. The Oaks will include 240 one- to five-acre lots (the smallest lots start at $59,900), a 33 stall barn, riding arenas, a covered round pen, and an O'Connor-designed cross-country riding course.
Diehard horse-lovers notwithstanding, the developer hopes to woo home buyers who simply crave life in a pastoral setting. “Statistics show that fewer than 30 percent of people who buy in golf communities actually play golf. What they are really buying is access to open space,” observes project consultant Jennifer Donovan, a principal with Charlottesville, Va.–based Equestrian Services, creator of the O'Connor designation. Residents who do ride will have access to horses, barns, and trails without having to independently own and maintain them.
The model also has good news for both bottom-liners and environmentalists. Equestrian amenities cost less to build than golf courses because they work with the existing topography and require less earth moving, Donovan says. “The horses graze, which means less mowing, and you're not putting down chemicals to maintain the grass. It's a lighter way to tread on the environment.”
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.