ELM architects take on serious body of work on the water at Homes by Towne's LakeHouse Cove.
Architect Steve Lovett and his team at ELM (Ervin, Lovett and Miller) had arrived at Waterside at Lakewood Ranch to get their artistic juices flowing.
The Jacksonville firm had been hired by Homes by Towne to build a clubhouse, pool area and boathouse, shape the shoreline of Kingfisher Lake and design a trail system, among other amenities, for the LakeHouse Cove project.
Now it was time to check out the raw materials just west of Lorraine Road.
"The first time we visited, we knew it was special," said Lovett, who is the lead designer for the project. "We got there about 30 minutes before sunset. We saw the scale of the water and how it is connective. In this case, it was a real lake, a serious body of water about a third of a mile wide and a mile long. Most communities don't offer this kind of opportunity."
Lovett stood at the side of the lake and started to brainstorm. They imagined a pedestrian promenade along the lake, a pool area which would open to a terrific lake view, beautiful landscapes and a functional boathouse for kayaks and canoes.
"We knew this was special," Lovett said. "We watched the sun set and we were thinking, 'We will be back.' It was so naturally beautiful."
But while it was naturally beautiful, a straight-line waterfront wasn't so attractive. ELM figured out a plan to "manipulate" the shoreline of Kingfisher Lake to dig out a cove that formed a semicircle into the area directly in front of the clubhouse with the boathouse and pool area on either side.
"We wanted to bring the lake into the community," Lovett said. "When you arrive here, you will be looking down the length of the pool, and you will look across and see this really large lake. It's marvelous, a really special setting."
While ELM had to redesign the lakefront, Lovett said all the best attractions weren't man-made.
"The best design is what you find in existing nature," he said. "You have birds and wildlife and we wanted to capitalize on all of that on a grand scale. That's the beauty of what we do. It can be fun and inspiring, and this is such a nice community."
He said it was just a matter of celebrating the water and the lake. He also noted "the wonderful trees on the property, and interesting vegetation.
Ground has been broken on the project and Lovett estimated work on the clubhouse and other amenities would be finished late in 2018 although Homes by Towne Vice President Kitt Kearney said it is more likely early to mid 2019.
Homes by Towne has three model homes open in Waterside at Lakewood Ranch and another opening late in April. The community's amenities will be on Kingfisher Lake, but houses will be built on Lake Mallard. Kingfisher Lake also will border the new downtown area, Waterside Place, so those at LakeHouse Cove will be connected by water to the hub. Kearney said a water taxi is planned to take the community's residents to Waterside Place.
The community has planned 391 homes at build out. Prices start at $399,000.