Housing starts in the Volusia-Flagler area rose in 2017 to the highest levels since 2006.
New numbers released by area builders associations show builders in Volusia County pulled 2,094 permits for new homes last year, up nearly 27 percent over 2016, while their counterparts in Flagler County pulled 999, a 22 percent year-over-year gain.
Among the new developments driving that surge is the Jimmy Buffett-themed Latitude Margaritaville 55-and-older community in Daytona Beach, expected to welcome its first residents early this spring.
“We have approximately 40 homes under construction and will be starting nine (new homes) per week going forward,” said Bill Bullock, the Minto Communities senior vice president overseeing the planned 6,900-home community.
This past fall, on the first day that potential owners could put down deposits on new homes, Latitude Margaritaville drew long lines of people with approximately 300 camping overnight in the parking lot of the community’s sales center on LPGA Boulevard.
Sales have remained steady since then, Bullock said.
The community, which upon full buildout will stretch along the west side of Interstate 95 from LPGA Boulevard north to West Granada Boulevard, is scheduled to open nine model homes in February, with the first homes on track to be ready for occupancy in April, Bullock said.
While housing starts are up sharply, the number of permits issued last year were still well below the levels seen during the real estate bubble years that peaked in 2005. During that year, builders began more than 6,800 in Volusia and more than 3,000 in Flagler, both which still stand as record highs, and according to local industry watchers, will never be surpassed.