City, county and local business leaders celebrated Wednesday at a groundbreaking for Galvin’s Ridge, one of two new large scale residential communities being constructed in Lee County.

Tri Properties | NIA Carolantic helped over the last year-plus to broker the sale of 749 acres at two sites to Alabama-based Criteria Development, which is working on Galvin’s Ridge along Colon Road in the Deep River area and Laurel Oaks off Commerce Drive along N.C. 87 south.

Officially announced Wednesday at a Sanford Area Growth Alliance groundbreaking, Galvin’s Ridge totals 427 acres and is planned to be a 1,000-unit community with a mix of single-family homes, townhomes and apartments. Plans are to build in four phases. More than 13 acres of the 427 total will be developed as commercial space, and the project also expects to include a clubhouse, public/private greenways, a neighborhood pool, a playground, dog park, sports court, and picnic area. On the east side of US 1, north of Colon Road, there is an additional 112 acres to be developed in the future with a mix of commercial and multi-family spaces.

Wednesday’s groundbreaking featured comments by Lee County Board of Commissioners chairwoman Amy Dalrymple, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, SAGA Economic Development Director Bob Joyce, and leaders from the companies involved in the projects.

“We knew Sanford/Lee County was going to be one of the best locations in the country for future growth and new home development, so there was no question we had to be here,” said Marion Uter, CEO of Criteria Development. “The economy is strong, the quality of life is outstanding, and more companies are either locating or expanding here which means more job opportunities. Obviously with more jobs, there is a need for additional housing options. We look forward to being a part of this dynamic community.”

“It has been a pleasure working with the City of Sanford throughout this process,” said Ben Lunnen, Division President for D.R. Horton’s Central Carolina division. “The citizens and staff have set the City on a growth trajectory that we are excited to be a part of. These two neighborhoods will create an opportunity for homebuyers across the D.R. Horton family of brands, with multiple product types and price points available, all with the premium amenities that come with a D.R. Horton master planned community.”

Tri Properties | NAI Carolantic broker Steve Stroud, a longtime supporter of Sanford and Lee County, said he knew Criteria was the right company to handle this residential/commercial development.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Marion and Zach,” Stroud said. “They are committed to developing a high-quality, reasonably-priced community to accommodate the growth in Lee County. The team at the Sanford Area Growth Alliance works hard to attract new companies and strengthen existing companies to include firms like Pfizer who recently announced it would spend a half a billion dollars in its Sanford facility.”

The Laurel Oaks development will sit on 210 acres and is planned to be a 625-unit community with a mix of townhomes and single-family homes. Plans include a clubhouse, playground, tot lot, and greenway trails. Combined, the two communities and additional development will add a total of over 2,000 housing units to the area, which is the largest residential development in Lee County’s history.

“Today’s groundbreaking caps a fantastic 12-month period in Sanford and Lee County during which we’ve announced six new projects, 1,300 new jobs and over $750 million in new investment,” said Michael Smith, CEO of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance. “These significant projects by Criteria and DR Horton to develop new homes will help us become a premier destination for young families moving to this part of the Research Triangle Region.”

Galvin’s Ridge in particular has, however, been controversial to some in the surrounding area. Read The Rant’s coverage from February of the debate over whether to move forward with the project here.