Alexa, show new home options: Royal Palm Beach’s BellaSera recognizes ‘marketplace has changed’

Palm Beach Post

Lennar’s BellaSera has everything that the changing market in Royal Palm Beach demands, from the latest smart-home technology, Wi-Fi Certified Home Design and new design options. Learn more about this innovative new home development in this Palm Beach Post article by Charles Elmore.


ROYAL PALM BEACH – Selling new homes in 2019 can involve a few adjustments. Like pre-haunting houses with the disembodied voice of a robot genie. Or scaling up or down for buyers you didn’t necessarily see coming.

One of Royal Palm Beach’s largest single-family home communities to debut in a decade was long betting buyers would welcome an automated Alexa wired right in, showing who was at the front door or turning on the tunes.

Now, as the first buyers have begun to close, the 385-home BellaSera development by Lennar also reflects offerings tweaked to appeal to a wider range of households, from young adults starting out to the empty-nest parents they left behind.

In October, for example, the village council approved 13 new home models and up to nine two-bedroom homes within the development.

“The marketplace has changed,” Lennar division president Dan Grosswald said. “We were much pretty much focused on the center of the market. We didn’t have a lot for young millennials. Nothing for empty nesters.”

There are still plenty of choices for families with children, he said. Prices range from the mid $300,000s to more than $500,000, he said.

But the palette of options, from the number of bedrooms to airier use of interior space to more angled exterior lines, has become increasingly diverse since 2015, when Royal Palm Beach’s council approved 385 single-family units on about 155 acres that once held the village’s water treatment plant. Lennar bought the site, off Crestwood Boulevard just west of H.L. Johnson Elementary School, for $35 million.

This was no rush job but a “long-term strategy,” Mayor Fred Pinto said in February. He hoped it would reflect a “series of intelligent business decisions” over time.

One selling point long in the works was the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Home Designs, featuring home automation activated and supported by Amazon and voice-controlled by Alexa. Engineers comb the designs to make sure there are no Wi-Fi “dead spots” in any house, for example. Owners can choose from a range of basic to advanced features, from front-door video to automated shades, lighting and climate control, executives said.

In November, developers turned over to the village nearly six acres along Crestwood Boulevard for a public park, part of a previously-agreed recreation plan. That was required for the first certificate of occupancy to be approved, according to village records.

How about the financial climate? A long economic expansion has seen the first incremental steps away from bargain-basement interest rates. Grosswald said it is useful to keep some perspective there. For anyone old enough to remember double-digit credit terms, rates are still “incredibly low,” he said.

As for the target audience of buyers, Grosswald said early returns show many are looking for a home not so far from home.

“We’re finding a lot of buyers and traffic are from Royal Palm Beach,” he said.

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