Lennar has bought the 2,400-acre St. Charles master-planned community in Charles County, Md. To assuage county officials, the firm has agreed to develop 2,500 fewer homes than planned to lessen the impact on schools and roads. (Tony L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Lennar Corporation purchased the planned community of St. Charles in Charles County in one of the largest acquisitions in Maryland in recent history, a 2,400-acre development in the southern part of the state that includes residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Lennar, the second largest builder in the country by the number of closings and gross revenue, according to the Builder 100 List,  has been constructing homes in St. Charles since 2004 and will take over development and ownership of the remaining lots in the planned community. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“This was a rare opportunity to buy a large master-planned community,” said Ryan Houck, Maryland division president of Lennar. “It’s a community with great amenities and a diversity of homes where we know we can succeed and sustain long-term growth.”

There are approximately 7,000 home sites still to be developed in St. Charles, according to Jeff Minich, vice president of land acquisition for Lennar.

“We recognize the market demand in St. Charles, which offers a great quality of life with amenities, highly ranked schools and close proximity to the employment hub in Washington, D.C.,” Minich said.

Peter F. Murphy, president of the Charles County Board of Commissioners, says the most important element of the sale to the county government is that Lennar agreed to reduce the number of housing units by more than 2,500.

“Reducing the number of homes to be built relieves pressure on the school system and relieves transportation issues,” said Murphy (D).

Charles County Administrator Michael Mallinoff says a second major benefit of the sale for residents is that Lennar plans to work with county officials on a master plan to make St. Charles more pedestrian-friendly, with more sidewalks and bike paths.

“We’ll be looking at everything to make St. Charles a live, work and play community, including concentrating on expanding business development so more residents can live and work in the same area,” Mallinoff said.

Lennar plans to continue to build homes for first-time, move-up and 55-and-older buyers. Houck says that the company will focus on making sure the amenities are built as neighborhoods develop and that the entire community is maintained to high standards, including landscaping and entrances to each neighborhood.

“We’ll continue to build in St. Charles and will be the primary builder, but there will be other builders as well,” Houck said. “This is a long-term project, so it will be 12 to 15 years or longer before St. Charles is complete.”

For more information about St. Charles, visit www.stcharlesmd.com.