LAKEWOOD RANCH — National builder Meritage Homes is gaining momentum in the East County area as it moves forward with plans to build a 475-home community in Lakewood Ranch.
The company’s unnamed project, which sits on 304 acres, is located roughly south of State Road 64, north of the 44th Avenue East extension and west of Lorraine Road. Meritage plans to buy the land from Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch for an undisclosed amount by the end of the year.
The project, endorsed by the Manatee County Planning Commission Aug. 14, now heads to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners for approval Sept. 4.
“We plan to start development in the first quarter of next year,” said Katie Suggs, east region marketing manager for Meritage Homes.
Meritage already has two communities in the East County area — Raven Crest, a 38-home subdivision off White Eagle Boulevard, and Serenity, a 111-home community off Upper Manatee River Road. Both projects are slated to open by mid-September.
Meritage, a green builder, expects home sales in both projects will be finished by the time home sites in the new community comes online. Infrastructure work will take about 18 months, and home sales likely will start in November 2015.
“It’s a great area,” Suggs said. “For us, the attractiveness of Lakewood Ranch is that it’s one of the top-selling master-planned communities in the country. They’ve done a great job already realizing the lifestyle opportunity.”
Suggs said the builder looks for family-friendly locations, and its offerings as a green builder benefit these buyers. “There’s a lower financial output each month because of green initiatives. (Customers get a ) bigger home, but pay less in energy costs,” she said.
Meritage plans to build on 72-, 62- and 55-foot lots, with single-family detached homes starting at three bedrooms and ranging from 2,400 to 5,000 square feet. Product offerings will be focused on families.
Sugg said Meritage has adjusted its product options to the Tampa area market over the last year, offering some single-level floor plans in addition to its more typical two-level designs.
No amenities have been finalized, but Sugg expects the community will have pools, fitness areas, playgrounds and other features.
The community, which likely will be named in about six months, will be private and gated.
Preliminary plans designate 156 acres for open space, including seven acres for recreation.
Planning Commission Recap
In other business, the Manatee County Planning Commission:
• Recommended approval of an infill project called The Preserve at Walden Lake, located south of the State Road 70 Walmart adjacent to the Briarwood community. The plan calls for 216 multifamily units on 38.5 acres stretching west from 33rd Street East.
• Recommended approval of preliminary site plan for up to 14 single-family detached homes in the Mote Ranch community, off Honore Avenue, at 6375 Old Farm Road. The nine-acre project is called Magnolia Ridge at Mote Ranch.
• Recommended approval of a rezone for a 2.2-acre site on the north side of University Parkway, about 1,200 feet east of Lockwood Ridge Road, to planned development office. The general development plan shows two phases and includes a 7,500-square-foot building for medical offices and a 6,300-square-foot building for retail uses, an eating establishment and offices.
• Recommended approval a request from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to reclassify property south of State Road 64, about one mile east of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, to mixed-use community. The property is part of the Lakewood Centre North development of regional impact.
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