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Sarasota Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 3 years ago

Top Story - March: Neal buys south Sarasota land for $20 million

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Catch up on the new top news items of 2017 with the Observer's Digital Year in Review.

Homebuilder Pat Neal made another attempt to develop more than 500 acres east of I-75 into what is slated to be called Grand Lakes, this time including plans for more affordable housing.

In early March, Neal Communities bought a swath of agricultural land two miles south of Clark Road for $20 million, with plans to use Sarasota County’s long-range growth overlay — Sarasota 2050  — to build up to 1,100 homes. The firm’s consultant Kimley-Horn and Associations hosted a neighborhood workshop on the project on March 6.

The move came four months after county commissioners denied a component of an initial application that swayed from Sarasota 2050’s full affordable housing requirement. Last year, Neal sought to build 788 homes on the site.

“Consistent with Sarasota 2050, specifically the Village Planned Development standards, Grand Lakes will provide a minimum of 15 percent of the total residential dwelling units meeting the County’s affordable housing standards,” a Feb. 23 pre-application report said. The plan included six different housing types in two neighborhoods.

Leisa Weintraub, vice president of marketing and creative director of Neal Communities, said the homebuilder is creating a new affordable housing product for the project, but declined to provide specifics at this time.

Sarasota 2050 is a voluntary development process that allows property owners to add more density to proposals located east of I-75, with regulations intended to promote walkable, environmentally-friendly developments. 

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