Regardless of whether Jimmy Buffett ever found his lost shaker of salt, everyone else found the song in which he lost it—the 1977 hit “Margaritaville.” Forty years later, the song has become a brand, associated with lifestyle products, food and beverage lines, and, now, an active adult housing development. Margaritaville is said to be a state of mind that exudes relaxation coupled with fun.
That development was born when Margaritaville Holdings and Minto Communities partnered to build an active adult community in Daytona Beach, Fla., shortly after Minto closed on the 1,600-acre property from Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. in February. Ground was broken in March on Latitude Margaritaville, the first community in the Margaritaville-Minto partnership, which is designed for 55-plus buyers who seek a “uniquely fun and relaxed lifestyle experience,” says the announcement.
“When you think of Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville, immediately three things come to mind: Food, fun, and music,” says William Bullock, Minto senior vice president. “There’s an authenticity with the brand that you can’t create on your own. Everybody wants to do Key West, palm trees, hammocks, and flip flops, but when you do it under the name Margaritaville, it’s the real thing.”
Despite being the partnership’s first community, the scope is anything but small. The initial launch at Latitude Margaritaville will include more than 3,000 homes with a proposed future expansion of up to 7,000 homes. Since the community’s launch in February, the response has exceeded the expectations of Jim Wiseman, Margaritaville Holdings president of development, by “leaps and bounds.” He notes that, “We normally get a great response to anything we put out as Margaritaville, but this has been unbelievable and, I would say, unprecedented in the community business.” By mid-April, according to Bullock, 58,000 people had expressed interest in buying a home in the community. And that’s without any advertising, he notes. “We’ve done community launches before—2,000 to 5,000 people on an interest list,” he adds. “It’s a testament to the brand. I don’t like to use the word overwhelming because we’re handling it, but it’s definitely beyond our wildest expectations.”
Margaritaville Holdings has wanted to enter the active adult space for the past five years, says Wiseman, but it couldn’t find the right partner. It was about three years ago that Minto, which owns several age-restricted or age-targeted communities in Florida, set its sights on Daytona Beach and contracted the 1,600-acre property. It was going to form a brand to launch multiple active adult communities throughout Florida and the southeast, Bullock says. “The Daytona position was going to be the first one in that brand, kind of a sub-brand under the Minto umbrella,” he says. But then Margaritaville entered the picture. The two companies were introduced last year by a mutual connection—John Albright, president and CEO of Consolidated-Tomoka. “We spent about an hour together, shook hands, and said, ‘We’re going to figure this out,’” Bullock recalls. That meeting took place while Minto was in the midst of a three-year entitlement process, which worked out because several retail developments and restaurants have been built in the area over that time. “New growth is concentrating itself around the 95 corridor, which we now will control two exits on,” he says. “A lot of people said, ‘Why go to Daytona Beach?’ when we announced the contract three years ago. We said, ‘Just wait, you’ll see.”
Shovel, Meet Ground
Latitude Margaritaville’s sales center is under construction and is scheduled to open in the fall. Work on the community’s first production units will begin in July, with the first residents targeted for move-in by early second quarter 2018. The first phase will consist of 400 homes, Bullock says. Due to demand, Minto has already started design on phase two. He expects to build 300 to 400 homes per year over the next few years, which is about the maximum the area’s labor market will allow. The homes will start in the low $200,000s.
Centering a community around a lifestyle of relaxation and fun requires places for residents to go and things for them to do. Plans call for walkable neighborhoods and a town center that includes a fitness center with an aerobics studio, indoor lap pool, spa, and fitness classes; indoor and outdoor dining; arts and learning programs; and a resort pool area with beach entry. Given the inspiration for the project, music will play a role as well: The town center will feature a band shell for live entertainment. A private beachfront club will be set on the Atlantic Ocean, and a continuous loop shuttle service from the community to the beach club will be available to residents. There are also plans to partner with a local medical facility that will have staff on-site to work with residents on lifestyle and wellness choices, Bullock says.
The Road Ahead
The literal roads are currently being built in Latitude Margaritaville, but so, too, is the metaphorical one Minto and Margaritaville are on. According to Bullock, the two companies have an agreement to partner on active adult communities in the continental U.S. “We had looked for partners in the past and this just was the right fit with Minto,” Wiseman says. The two companies announced plans for a second Latitude Margaritaville in Hilton Head, S.C. last week. The 55+ community’s sales center is slated to open early next year and development has already begun. “We like to say this is all about growing older but not up,” Bullock says. “The Margaritaville brand provides so much authenticity and concept to build around.”