Planned communities in the United States are adopting a new trend of building giant artificial lagoons as an alternative to traditional pools, offering residents a beach-like experience, but without being close to the ocean. In Florida, Texas and other states, these loopholes are increasing land values and accelerating home sales in these locations.
In communities like Beachwalk and Mirada in Florida, and Lago Mar in Houston, residents can enjoy the benefits of living near a body of water without the concerns associated with proximity to the ocean. In fact, houses near lagoons are more affordably priced compared to those located on actual beaches, and their popularity is on the rise.
These large pools, which can cover up to six hectares and contain up to 132 million liters of water, are not only an attraction point for owners but also become the social center of these communities. Residents of these areas, like Neal and Barb Shact, enjoy the proximity to the man-made lagoon, where they can interact with other members of the community and where the little ones are entertained with facilities such as kayaks, paddle boards and water slides. “When we go to the lagoon or the club, it is impossible not to meet people,” he told the WSJ Neal Shact.
The maintenance costs of these lagoons, which include a fee built into the homeowners association dues and, in some cases, an additional membership for full use of the facilities, are justified by the resort lifestyle they provide. . According to Lesley Deutch of John Burns Research and Consulting and Uri Man of The Lagoon Development Company, this development model promotes the idea of a “staycation,” thereby increasing home sales and property values. .
These real estate developments with artificial lagoons are driving home sales in communities across the United States, with a significant increase in demand and prices, according to Uri Man, CEO of The Lagoon Development Company. These communities like Mirada in Pasco County, Florida, have recorded an increase of up to 121% in sales after the inauguration of lagoons, which are considered the main attraction by about 47% of buyers.
As reported The Wall Street Journal, these lagoons not only offer a recreational option, but also allow builders to sell the lots at premium prices and in turn, home builders can increase the price of the homes. Properties near lagoons tend to sell faster than those in new neighborhoods without these amenities. According to Land Tejas, communities with lagoons can sell between 400 and 700 homes a year, compared to 200 to 300 sales annually in standard communities.
In June 2023, Metro Development Group opened a six-hectare lagoon in Mirada, the largest in the United States, with an 89% increase in sales compared to the previous year. The lagoon was a decisive factor in the acquisition of houses according to buyers. “This is not the typical development model of building a pool and a clubhouse.”, explained Eric Wahlbeck, managing director of Metro. “It’s a huge undertaking.”
In an effort to address growing concerns about water scarcity, Desert Color, a community in St. George, Utah, has implemented a one-hectare artificial lagoon, using 15 million liters of brackish water from an on-site well. The infrastructure, which was initially planned to be a golf course, represents a more efficient alternative in terms of water use and service to residents, according to Rob Behunin, director of business services at GWC Capital. According to Behunin, the lagoon evaporates less water than a traditional lawn.
“Water is a big problem not only in the West, but throughout the country,” he told the WSJ Craig Martin, CEO of Tellus Group, a developer in Prosper, Texas, “hopefully this convinces residents that they don’t need their own pools,” he stressed.
The development of these lagoons, with technology licensed by Crystal Lagoons, a Miami-based company, requires fewer chemicals and only 2% of the energy used by conventional pool filtration systems. These aquatic spaces are only filled once and need replenishment of water only to compensate for evaporation, similar to regular swimming pools. According to Iván Manzur, senior vice president of sales at Crystal Lagoons US Corp, the average monthly maintenance for a medium-sized lagoon is approximately $9,600 per hectare.
The cost of these loopholes translates into increased rates for homeowners in planned communities. At Land Tejas developments in the Houston area, homeowners begin paying an additional $400 annually to their homeowners association (HOA) dues once the lagoon opens. This is in addition to average annual HOA fees of $1,200 that include pond access.