PALMETTO – Pearl Homes president Marshall Gobuty recently gave The Sun a tour of the new research and design center in Palmetto that now houses the model home for the Pearl Homes at Hunters Point development.
The ultra-energy-efficient Hunters Point community will be built on Gobuty’s 18.7-acre property in Cortez, near the Buttonwood Inlet RV Park. The cutting-edge community will feature 86 small but luxurious net-zero energy homes designed to produce more solar power than they need.
When entering the Palmetto warehouse, one is struck by how large the finished home looks in comparison to the conceptual drawings presented to Manatee County commissioners in 2017.
Due to the warehouse’s space limitations, the model home does not sit atop the two-car garage and storage area that will serve as the foundation for the elevated homes.
With approximately 480 square feet of air-conditioned interior living space, the Pearl Home offers nearly 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor usable space that also includes a wrap-around porch and a rooftop sky deck that runs the length of the house.
The kitchen/living room area includes a pull-out table that seats 12. The guest bedroom features a Murphy bed that doubles as a desk. The bathroom includes a shower and an automatically activated heated toilet seat. The master bedroom includes a queen-sized bed.
Built atop a ground-level garage that will feature an ample storage area, each Pearl Home will come equipped with solar panels, sonnen solar batteries, Google Home smart technology, smart TVs, space-saving appliances, furniture and more.
“When you buy one of these homes, it comes with everything. All you’re going to have to do is move in,” Gobuty said.
Buyers will also have the option to include a swimming pool built by Agnelli Pools and/or an elevator that goes from the garage to the sky deck.
Gobuty anticipates the research and design center opening to potential buyers in mid-March. Presales have not started yet, but more than 300 people have expressed initial interest in the Pearl Homes – and some have offered to pay for their homes sight-unseen.
Built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, a Hunters Point Pearl Home built onsite on an inland lot will cost about $400,000. Gobuty said a canal-front home with a dock might cost about $100,000 more, but that price point is still being determined.
Gobuty said some builders told him his prices are too low.
“I don’t know if they’re too low, but I want the project to work. This is not a normal, standard home. This is the most sustainable smart home that’s ever been built,” he said.
“At this stage of my life, it’s not about money,” the 57-year-old said, referring to Hunters Point as a legacy project that his kids and grandkids can be proud of.
Gobuty anticipates construction beginning in July and the new homes being occupied in early 2020. He believes many owners will use their homes as vacation rentals, at least some of the time.
The first phase of construction will not include the guest lodge included in the original plans presented to county commissioners. This is because the Florida Department of Transportation may need that part of the Hunters Point property for stormwater retention when a new fixed-span Cortez Bridge is built in the next decade or so.
Gobuty said the Hunters Point amenities will include a bistro and bar operated by Cortez businesswoman Karen Bell, a gym, a dog park and a designated dock slip for water taxi service to and from Anna Maria Island. His team is also researching the possible communal use of Tesla electric automobiles, which depends on whether liability concerns can be addressed.
“Sustainability isn’t just an energy-efficient home. It’s a community of sustainability, which means less traffic, less gas and less emissions. If we have two cars in every garage we’re not doing our job,” Gobuty said.
Gary Carmack serves as Pearl Homes’ energy development expert. He said the model home now on display is powered by 16 solar panels placed atop the warehouse roof. This replicates the solar panels to be placed atop the porch overhangs for the Hunters Point homes.
Carmack said the sonnen battery can store enough electricity to power the home for two days. If more is needed during extended periods of rain or cloudy skies, electricity can be pulled from Florida Power & Light’s power grid.
“The very last thing it wants to do is take from the grid,” Carmack said.
Gobuty, the founder and former owner of the Arizona Jean Company, previously helped friends and associates design their homes, but his LEED Platinum Certified Mirabella community in west Bradenton was his first major housing development.
Pearl Homes will also soon be building the 720-unit lease-only Pearl Homes at OurLives community in Ellenton. Gobuty said the OurLives community will provide sustainable apartment-style living that costs $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom unit, $1,450 for two-bedrooms and $1,750 for three bedrooms.
“Sustainability shouldn’t just be for the wealthy,” he said.
“The Pearl Home can also be in a more affordable community and the concept is the same,” Carmack added.
In the future, Gobuty envisions net-zero energy Pearl Homes being delivered or built anywhere in the country.
“It could be anywhere because with the solar you do not need infrastructure,” he said.
He also hopes his efforts inspire more developers and builders to focus on green technology and sustainability.