News and Press

Avalon Parks Group’s News & Press page is designed to give you immediate access to timely and relevant information about our company. In this section, you will find information as well as archived Avalon Park Group press releases.

 

Smaller version of Avalon Park development planned for Tavares

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 in News and Press | 0 comments

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Avalon Park Group has filed plans in Tavares to build a smaller version of its Avalon Park community on the shores of Lake Hermosa, bringing a potential 1,000-plus homes and mixed-use community just outside Eustis. “We believe that we can repeat our success we had in Avalon Park in Orlando in Tavares,” Beat Kahli, president and CEO of Avalon Park Group, told GrowthSpotter on Monday.The plans for a 155-acre development near Florida Hospital Waterman show a true village-center community unlike anything else in central Lake County. Kahli said he plans to name it Avalon Park North.Compared to its pioneering namesake which carried a $1.5 billion investment cost, Avalon Park North in Tavares is projected to be a $230 million project, he said.
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The group’s plans submitted to City of Tavares include more than 1,000 residential units, including 300 single family homes, 300 multifamily units, 100 townhomes, and 330 senior living residences.

There is also space for a K-12 private or charter school, 100,000 square feet of self-storage and, important to Kahli’s desire to create communities where residents don’t have to travel for basic necessities and work, the Village Center includes 50,000 square feet of commercial space and 168 multi-family housing units.

“Most important, we would like to develop a small town in Tavares,” said Kahli, whose developments aim to create an environment so residents can work, live and play without travelling far.

“Our claim to fame is that more than half of the people (who live in Avalon Park) don’t leave Avalon Park because they satisfy all their needs (there),” said Kahli. “Two thousand people work in Avalon Park.”

He said the Tavares site would become an additional downtown, in between Tavares’ up-and-coming Lake Dora lakefront downtown and Eustis’ downtown on Lake Eustis, which has 4.8 acres of vacant private land being promoted for mixed-use development by the city.

Avalon Park Group has owned the land, not far from Florida Hospital Waterman, in the name of subsidiary companies for more than a decade, Kahli said. Once there were plans to sell the land to a homebuilder, which pulled out of the deal just before the recession hit.

But now Kahli thinks Central Lake County is ready for his development. He called the area “energetic,” and said he views it much like East Orlando was 15 years ago.

The new exit spur coming to the S.R. 429 parkway will make it even quicker to move from the Orlando Metro area into the heart of Lake County, which was an accelerant to the decision to develop the land as well, Kahli said.

The master plan is still in the process of being refined, but Kahli said he is hoping to break ground this time in 2017, if not earlier.

The property is already zoned for the proposed uses. The master plan will go before the city’s Planning & Zoning Board on Sept. 15 to update the plans, and then could go before City Council on Oct. 19.

A Personal Letter from Beat Kahli on Charter Schools and Avalon Park

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in News and Press | 0 comments

Dear Avalon Park Area Residents,

When we started Avalon Park more than 20 years ago, we envisioned a community that would be an international model for neighborhoods. We wanted a place where families could live in quality homes of all sizes and styles. A place where residents could walk to church, the grocery store, schools, restaurants and much more. In essence, we envisioned a place where residents could live, learn, work and play without leaving the community to fulfill their daily needs and joys.

In order to achieve our goal of creating a unique, sustainable community, we put many restrictions in the documents that govern the development of Avalon Park. The restrictions included requirements for public space, bike trails, parks, traffic calming devices and many other “quality of life” measures. We placed self-imposed limitations on what we could build, while always keeping the goal of building the most livable, sustainable and sought after place to live, work, learn and play. We took an area that was originally purchased for homebuilding, and created the Hal Scott Preserve Park, an 8,000+ acre preserve, directly adjacent to Avalon Park. People from all over the nation bought into our vision, and, as a result, Avalon Park was the fastest selling residential community in Central Florida in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.

A great education system was, and always will be, a key component of Avalon Park. We strived to not only have great schools, but schools that are a national model of business and education working together. We invested millions of dollars into the area schools, not because of any requirements, but out of our passion and the understanding that great schools equal great communities. We constructed, at our risk, Avalon Middle School, Stone Lakes Elementary School and Avalon Tech Center at a time when Orange County Public Schools did not have the resources to build schools in a timely fashion. We donated the money to construct the Timber Creek Football Stadium and the band’s marching field. We donated the site to construct Avalon Elementary School and entered into a partnership with Avalon Elementary School to contribute the great technology its students enjoy. We believe that teachers should be the most traveled people of all, because they teach our future generations. We sponsored educational trips for all Avalon Elementary teachers to Switzerland, China, South America and South Africa. We donated the land for Avalon Middle School, and our not-for-profit foundation continues to own the fields Avalon Middle School uses for no cost.

Today, we are embarking on a great opportunity to improve Avalon Park’s educational offerings by constructing two charter schools. We support OCPS in its efforts to build additional needed relief for the overcrowded middle school in our area. Unfortunately, this relief is still at least a year and half away, and there are no plans to relieve overcrowding at the elementary or high school levels. As such, we will build two charter schools and open them in three phases in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

We believe charter schools provide an excellent opportunity to bring additional educational options to the residents of Avalon Park. We did not make this decision lightly. Instead, we researched the facts about charter schools and tried to prove or disprove many of the myths surrounding them. Some the key facts we found persuasive are listed below:

a. The charter schools at Avalon Park are 100% choice public schools for parents and families and are being provided at no cost to the students. No student will be forced to attend the charter schools, and no student will need to pay to attend the charter schools.

b. The charter schools will only increase the outstanding public educational opportunities that already exist in the overcrowded public schools in Avalon Park. Charter schools will not take a single dollar away from the existing Avalon Park schools. (The School District will retain 100% of the local property tax dollars).

c. Studies show that charter schools improve the quality of surrounding public schools because of competition that is created for educational excellence – especially in areas with great traditional public schools.

d. Over 90% of the families who have already applied to enroll in our August 2016 Renaissance K-8 School at Avalon Park are from the Avalon/Stoneybrook/Eastwood area. In addition, Renaissance has received registered support for the school from over 2,000 people over the past two weeks.

e. A recent study has shown that home values have actually increased in areas where charter schools are established.

Investing in new community assets and outstanding new public education provides new opportunities for the families of Avalon Park. The new charter schools will bring to Avalon Park:

a. More than 120 new certified, outstanding teachers.

b. Three new community event spaces, including a new state-of-the-art gymnasium.

c. An advanced dual enrollment program for high school students who will be able to graduate with an AA degree from an accredited college at the same time that they graduate from high school, at no cost to the students.

d. Plus, we are working on a new medical technology and simulation program which will provide high school students with high-paying career opportunities in the medical technology and simulation industry following high school graduation and/or matriculation to leading local and national universities.

The awards and accolades earned by our charter school partners, Renaissance, Charter Schools USA, Pinecrest Academy, and Academica, speak for themselves, many of which are highlighted at the end of this e-mail.

Over the past few weeks, there have been many rumors circulating about these schools. Let me take a few moments to set the record straight:

Avalon Park Has Vested Rights. As the developer of Avalon Park, we were required to build a large portion of Avalon Park Blvd, design and engineer the widening of Alafaya Trail, and pay millions of dollars in transportation impact fees. In return, Avalon Park was “vested” with the right to construct a specific number of homes and commercial buildings. The construction of the charter schools is well within these vested rights. However, the charter schools will not generate traffic during peak traffic times, and we will carefully manage the opening and closing times of the schools in order to avoid traffic congestion. By doing so, the traffic generated by the schools will likely be significantly less impactful, and more manageable, than other uses that are approved and vested for Avalon Park.

These schools are not a part of the siting agreement. Many years ago, Orange County and OCPS entered in to an agreement that OCPS must build schools on sites that meet certain minimum size requirements. This is an agreement between OCPS and Orange County which does not apply to us. We have our own agreement with Orange County and the State of Florida called a Development Order. We have fulfilled all of the obligations of this agreement, including creating hundreds of acres of open space and preservation land, 16 miles of bike trails, parks, and other community amenities. OCPS does not have to comply with our agreement, and we don’t have to comply with their agreement. There are 31 charter schools that have been approved by OCPS in recent years; not one of those schools meets the site size requirements of the aforementioned siting agreement between Orange County and OCPS. The largest charter high school sits on a site that is less than a third of the required size of land required by OCPS under the siting agreement, and many of the charter schools are located in retail space within shopping centers.

The two proposed charter schools meet all code requirements. In the approval process, we have not asked for one variance or one change to the requirements of Orange County and/or the Florida Building Code. Orange County staff unanimously approved both locations for the Avalon Park charter academies after an exhaustive analysis and review process, including multiple public meetings at the Orange County Development Review Committee (DRC). There is an additional public meeting before the Board of County Commissioners on February 16th regarding the project due to a School Board appeal of the County’s DRC approval.

Like you, I am very interested in keeping Avalon Park great. We share a significant investment in time and money in this community and would not do anything to harm it. If you would like to support our plans to bring more choices for quality education to Avalon Park or if you have any questions about the project, please feel free to email me at bkioff@avalonparkgroup.com.

Sincerely,

Beat Kahli
President and CEO
Avalon Park Group

ACADEMICA AND RENAISSANCE AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

A. The Renaissance K-8 academy will be part of the Renaissance/CSUSA network of charter academies, which, among other strengths, have had a net proficiency growth in reading, math, writing and science that is 10x higher than the State of Florida average.
B. The Renaissance K-8 academy will seek to receive “Cambridge International School” status, like other high performing Renaissance schools in similar communities. Cambridge is the world’s largest provider of international educational programs. Cambridge programs’ qualifications are recognized and valued by universities and employers around the world. Cambridge helps schools deliver the best education possible by providing comprehensive support, including teacher training, classroom resources, and membership to a global learning community.
C. The Avalon Park middle/high academy will be part of the Academica network of charter schools. Academica serviced schools have been recognized on a state and a national level for their achievements, including:

i. U.S. News and World Report 2015 Best High Schools named the International Studies Charter High as the #1 high school in Florida. Academica serviced high schools represented five out of the top 25 schools on the 2015 list.

ii. Two Academica-serviced schools, Mater Gardens Academy and Doral Performing Arts & Entertainment Academy, were 2014 National Blue Ribbon Award recipients. This represents 22% of all National Blue Ribbon recipients in Florida.

iii. Three Academica-serviced schools, Doral Academy Charter Middle School, International Studies Charter High School, and Mater Performing Arts & Entertainment Academy, were 2015 National Blue Ribbon Award recipients. This represents 33% of all National Blue Ribbon recipients in Florida.

Jan DeMaris Joins Avalon Park Group as Accountant

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in News and Press | 0 comments

Jan DeMaris Joins Avalon Park Group as  Accountant

Avalon Park, Fla. (July 10, 2015) – Jan DeMaris has joined Avalon Park Group as an accountant. In this capacity, DeMaris will work with senior management of the company on the financial aspects of the company.

“Avalon Park’s international footprint is a tremendous opportunity to utilize my unique background in investments,” DeMaris says. “The company has a tremendous work ethic to accomplish great goals and I’m proud to join Avalon Park Group.”

DeMaris has more than 13 years in the accounting industry and most recently worked as an investment accountant in Wilmington, Delaware.  DeMaris was the sole supervisor for the closed-end mutual funds, with net assets exceeding $1 billion. Reviewing and preparing financial statements, Jan was responsible for researching and compiling data for reporting to clients and auditors.

This experience give DeMaris a unique ability to perform the general accounting role at Avalon Park Group.

“Jan has a great background with a focus that is not a traditional accounting focus,” says Marybel Defillo, CFO, Avalon Park Group. “With our holding spanning the globe, she is a tremendous asset to Avalon Park Group.”

About Avalon Park Group

Avalon Park Group is a uniquely diversified family of companies engaged in businesses ranging from master-planned community development, to home building, mining, geographical information systems and property management, in Florida, Texas and Switzerland.  Avalon Park Group combines its exceptional reputation, sound business experience and significant financial resources to invest in extraordinary opportunities.  As such, the group replaces corporate bureaucracy with efficient and unrestricted decision making.  Avalon Park Group combines vision, skill and experience to create sustainable communities. For more information on Avalon Park Group, visit www.AvalonParkGroup.com or call 407-658-6565.

Contact: Stephanie Hodson Lerret, Avalon Park Group, 407-427-6073 or Alan Byrd, Alan Byrd & Associates, 407-415-8470, alan@byrdconnections.com.

JJ Sofarelli Named Assistant Vice President, Avalon Park Group

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in News and Press | 0 comments

JJ Sofarelli Named Assistant Vice President, Avalon Park Group

Avalon Park, Fla. (July 1, 2015) – JJ Sofarelli has joined Avalon Park Group as an assistant vice president. In this capacity, Sofarelli will work with senior management of the company to identify, contract and close real-estate related opportunities, in addition to managing the existing assets of Avalon Park Group, and manage investor, lender, and other stakeholder relationships.

“Avalon Park showcases a great example of new urbanism and brings together an incredible sense of community,” Sofarelli says. “Being a part of the team that helped define how communities are built is a great opportunity for me.”

Sofarelli brings with him experience at several construction companies, including J. Raymond Construction Company in Longwood and Holder Construction Company in Atlanta. A Central Florida native, Sofarelli graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida with a bachelors in construction management and was a scholarship grant recipient from the Hough Graduate School of Business Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies.

“As we continue to expand our company, Sofarelli is the type of person who we are looking to bring on to the Avalon Park Group team,” says Beat Kahli, president & CEO, Avalon Park Group. “He’s a new generation of real estate professional who understand a community is more than just building homes.”

About Avalon Park Group

Avalon Park Group is a uniquely diversified family of companies engaged in businesses ranging from master-planned community development, to home building, mining, geographical information systems and property management, in Florida, Texas and Switzerland.  Avalon Park Group combines its exceptional reputation, sound business experience and significant financial resources to invest in extraordinary opportunities.  As such, the group replaces corporate bureaucracy with efficient and unrestricted decision making.  Avalon Park Group combines vision, skill and experience to create sustainable communities. For more information on Avalon Park Group, visit www.AvalonParkGroup.com or call 407-658-6565.

Contact: Stephanie Hodson Lerret, Avalon Park Group, 407-427-6073 or Alan Byrd, Alan Byrd & Associates, 407-415-8470, alan@byrdconnections.com.

 

Mari Robles Promoted to Human Resources Manager

Posted by on May 29, 2015 in News and Press | 0 comments

Mari Robles Promoted to Human Resources Manager

Mari Robles Promoted to Human Resources Manager

ORLANDO, FL, May 27, 2015 — Avalon Park Group, Central Florida’s leader in creating sustainable communities, has promoted Mari Robles to Human Resources Manager in Orlando, Florida.

 

Marybel Defillo, Vice President of Finance for Avalon Park Group, said that Robles has served roles in both the accounting and human resource departments over the past 5 years, and will now be managing the Human Resources Department.  “We have built a great team at Avalon Park Group and we believe that our human resources are among the most important.  Mari’s professional rapport with the entire team has created a natural fit for her to manage our most valuable resources.” said Defillo.