Latitude Margaritaville is forging ahead with its westward expansion by planning to enter the state of Texas for the first time.
Developer Minto Communities — which launched the brand in 2017 in partnership with global brand Margaritaville Holdings — announced Tuesday that the company is searching for development sites in Austin, Dallas, and Houston.
Minto has developed three Latitude Margaritaville communities allocated for about 2,000 and 4,000 for-sale cottage homes in Hilton Head, South Carolina; and in Daytona Beach and Panama City Beach, Florida.
The properties have seen a surge of demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and that has largely continued into 2022, according to William Bullock, president of Minto Communities’ Latitude Margaritaville division.
Margaritaville communities are typically designed to include resort-style amenities themed after the life and music of Jimmy Buffett, such as “Fins Up” fitness centers and “Barkaritaville” pet spas.
To lead its expansion into Texas, Minto in February appointed Scott Rogers as vice president of acquisition and development.
“He’s worked for public and private builders, dealt with large-scale master-planned communities, and, being a Texas native, he understands the way the development process works,” Bullock told Senior Housing News.
Rogers, who will be based in Dallas, is central to Minto’s westward expansion in Texas and beyond, according to Bullock. Rogers has spent the last 30 days on the road in the Lone Star State looking for the right locations for new Margaritaville projects, he added.
Minto is targeting sites close to medical facilities, care and retail, and transportation.
“You can’t go out in the middle of the desert and drop one of these in and think people will move in,” Bullock said.
Minto has identified multiple land parcels in each market, including some with entitlements in place “where you could put a shovel in the ground pretty quick,” Bullock said. . Others could take a few years to come together, he added.
Growth and demand
Bullock had previously noted Minto was exploring locations for westward expansion, including in Texas. But Bullock said that wasn’t always in the cards.
The company polled its list of more than 500,000 prospects and found that many Texas residents had little desire to leave the state to move into another Margaritaville community, such as in Florida or South Carolina.
That “Texans have a desire to stay in Texas” was unexpected, Bullock said. Adding to the demand upside, the company also sees several other benefits to growing in Texas, such as migration patterns, the state’s government, and its available land supply.
“All those things coupled together really make Texas a natural fit,” Bullock said.
Minto does not plan to work with an external capital partner in Texas, but Bullock added that the company would welcome a partnership similar to the one it has with St. Joe (NYSE:JOE) in Panama City, Florida..
If Florida and the Carolinas are “stepping stones,” the venture into Texas is a “whole new beachhead for us,” Bullock said. The company plans to venture even farther westward with new projects, such as in Phoenix, Arizona while avoiding markets where local home prices make such projects prohibitive for buyers.
“We definitely want to push it further west,” Bullock said. “I think the key here is … to maintain [home] affordability, in order to be able to sell 3,500 units.”
Last year, Bullock noted Margaritaville was seeing a surge in demand. And that demand has largely kept up, with each of the three current Latitude Margaritaville communities currently fielding a waiting list with as many as 1,000 potential buyers and sales figures of about 50 to 60 homes per month.
“The demand is continuing to maintain or accelerate,” Bullock said. “It’s pretty remarkable how interested people are in Latitude Margaritaville and we look forward to growing.”