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East County Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010 10 years ago

Inside Central Park

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Download the Central Park site plan here.

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The opening of Lakewood Ranch’s first residential community north of State Road 70 is less than a month away, and the property’s developer, Neal Communities, is working to complete work before model homes open to the public July 17.

The 870-home Central Park will be the largest community Neal has built in Lakewood Ranch and one of the largest built during its 40-year history in Manatee County. In the East County, only University Park is bigger, with more than 1,000 homes.

“These are exciting times,” Neal Communities President Pat Neal said. “Most opportunities occur in times of great change. As everyone knows, the cheese has moved. Our homes are different. They are lovely, well planned with good amenities.”

At Central Park, Neal, whose homes typically attract active retirees, is looking to offer a variety of housing opportunities. Each of five neighborhoods will have its own theme and will be named after famous parks across the United States, including Miami’s Brickell Park, St. Louis’ Forest Park and Claremont and Gramercy parks, both in New York.

One of the first two neighborhoods to be built, Piedmont Park, is designed to attract families, singles and “singles-again” with homes ranging in size from 1,040 to 1,950 square feet.

“This has been the fastest selling size range (in all sections of) Greenbrook,” Neal said.

Forest Park, which also will open July 17, will offer home sites with and without lawn service and is intended to attract empty nesters and others with its homes ranging in size from 1,290 to 2,500 square feet.

The remaining neighborhoods will open at future dates, with the final two luxury neighborhoods expected to open in 2014, Neal said.

Neal said Central Park’s proximity to Interstate 75, schools, the Lakewood Ranch YMCA and other amenities, combined with its starting prices — which have yet to be announced — will make the community attractive to home buyers.

“The most important thing about Central Park is it is in the center of the universe that is Lakewood Ranch,” Neal said. “It’s a great location.”

The gated community’s main feature — a 10-acre community park inspired by Central Park in New York City — will offer its residents shaded picnic areas, a children’s adventure playground and splash pool with fountains, tennis courts, dog parks, gazebos, a softball field and a concession area with restrooms, among other amenities.

Additionally, each individual neighborhood will have its own smaller park area.

Neal Communities purchased the 372-acre Central Park property in 2004. It received approvals from the county in August 2006 but postponed construction because of the downturn in the real estate market. The company broke ground on the project in August 2008. Build out is expected to last about eight years.

Central Park is located on the east side of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard between 44th Avenue and Malachite Drive. Its northeastern and northwestern corners will serve as commercial nodes with 150,000 square feet of shopping and office space.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Voting for The East County Observer’s and Neal Communities’ My Favorite Bench Contest will continue through July 9. Visit the Contest Page to view the six benches, each representing a different organization, and vote for your favorite. Registered users can vote up to 10 times a day. The winner will be announced at a special opening for Central Park July 15 and also win $1,000.

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