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LWR Life
East County Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 5 months ago

Luxury on the Lake

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Space and style come to life in a WaterCrest Condo.
by: Robert Plunket Staff Writer

Condo living has been a part of Lakewood Ranch from the beginning. Most of the community’s condos are of the townhouse or villa variety: complete houses, some small, some not so small, but all attached to similar units. Major stand-alone, mid-rise buildings are few, with WaterCrest, many people agree, being the cherry on top.

WaterCrest is the kind of building that would be right at home on Longboat Key. In truth, there are 18 similar buildings, set on an expansive piece of land. There’s a certain formality to the way things are run. Everything seems perfect and effortless and totally secure. The units themselves are large and full of luxury features. And the location might be the best in the Ranch — most units have full water views of Lake Uihlein.

Photos by Gian Franco Spagnolo The fourth hole of the Legacy Golf Course provides a front lawn for the luxury development. Lake Uihlein is to the left.

The view from the home of Bob and Mary Bennett typifies WaterCrest’s unique appeal. The fourth fairway of the Legacy Golf Course runs in front of the building, with the 160-acre lake right behind it. Water birds can be seen swooping and skimming over the water. In the far distance, the Main Street shopping area can be glimpsed, along with the Lakeshore, the still-building mid-rise that might give WaterCrest a run for its money.

The Bennetts moved to WaterCrest from University Park about four years ago. They wanted to downsize from a big house but retain the gracious lifestyle that a big house offers, and WaterCrest was the perfect solution. Their residence, known as the sanctuary model, is the largest and most deluxe the complex offers, with 2,482 square feet of upscale living.

“It feels like home,” Mary Bennett says. “We have all the features that we were looking for.” Those features are similar to those offered by the top strata of luxury buildings downtown and on the keys, and they include private elevators, real garages in the lower level parking area and a host of luxury detailing.

The Bennetts’ guests arrive directly into the apartment from the elevator. They walk into the private hall with the double doors into the great room, wide open and beckoning. The doors and the elevator can be locked, of course, when no one is expected.

Mary is the decorator in the family, and her task was made easier when she discovered that her furniture from University Park would work beautifully in the new WaterCrest home. The effect is high-style Florida tropical with a slightly formal edge. Most of the art came from the former home as well, including the abstract painting over the sofa — hung in a period frame — by Nancy’s friend, artist Pamela Kelker.

The owners renovated the kitchen when they moved in several years ago. Cabinets painted a creamy white were installed, along with stainless steel appliances. Honed granite countertops with matching backsplash complete the look.

The great room itself is a dramatic space, more than 30 feet long. Oversized windows — the home has three orientations — add plenty of light, and at the far end there is a screened outdoor living area with the famous view. The Bennetts often walk over to Main Street along the path that hugs the lake. They lunch at MacAllisters or catch a movie at Lakewood Ranch Cinema. And it’s a plus that the hospital is less than a mile away. “After all,” Bob says, “that’s where I left my gallbladder.”

The only major renovation the Bennetts made when they moved in four years ago was to the kitchen. Changes were made to the counter layout, and the perfect honed granite was found for the countertops and backsplash. White, paneled cabinetry was added, along with decorative display shelves and stainless steel appliances.

An elegant trayed ceiling adds drama to the master bedroom. Sliders open to the screened balcony overlooking the water view. A master bath with a soaking tub and separate walk-in shower top off the master suite.

The master bedroom faces the view, with sliding glass doors out to the screened lanai. It also features one of the unit’s many trayed ceilings. The master bath has the requisite soaking tub and separate walk-in shower, plus individual his-and-hers vanities.

Toward the other end of the unit are two more bedrooms, each with its own bath and each opening onto a private balcony. This time, the view is to the nature preserve, where deer and bobcats are still occasionally sighted. The Bennetts use one of the bedrooms as an office, but there is still plenty of room for visiting grandchildren. The Bennetts, who have been married 47 years, have nine. The WaterCrest complex is ideal for entertaining visitors of all ages, in fact. There is a large resort-style pool, with a spa and adjacent gym and clubhouse, generous outdoor space for walks and exercise, and nearby shopping among the best in the area.

The screened balcony provides the perfect outdoor living area for morning coffee or cocktails at sunset, with an expansive view over Lake Uihlein toward Main Street. The Bennetts often stroll over for dinner and a movie along the

The Bennetts say their fellow owners are an eclectic group, with retired couples, working professionals and Canadian snowbirds in the mix. There are no age restrictions as to ownership, but if you see a resident out pushing a baby stroller, the Bennetts report that it most likely contains a very spoiled Shih Tzu.

As a retired engineer, Bob Bennett appreciates the way WaterCrest was constructed. “It’s all concrete with steel beams,” he says. “We were here during the hurricane, and we did just fine.”

Although they live in the Ranch, the Bennetts have been able to continue the active social life they developed in University Park. Bob plays golf there three times a week, and Mary is president of the Ladies Golf Association and active in charity work. Her favorite project has been teaching manners and etiquette to young girls as a way to build their self-confidence and self-empowerment.

“Giving up those girls will be tough,” Mary admits. She and Bob are leaving the area to relocate to Fort Worth to be closer to family. The WaterCrest unit is currently on the market and awaits a new owner to sit on the terrace, sip coffee or a margarita and take in the spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

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