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East County Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 3 years ago

Retirement community in the plans

by: Josh Siegel Staff Writer

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Don’t call it a retirement community.

But Lakewood Ranch — a master-planned development started in 1995 that has always sought to avoid such a label — now is trying to lure retirees.

Now that Lakewood Ranch’s developer, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, believes it has successfully branded the community as all-inclusive — with equal parts schools, economic opportunity and luxury — it wants to service specific market segments.

That thinking explains one of SMR’s newest projects, Del Webb at Lakewood Ranch, a 1,300-home age-restricted community planned on more than 600 acres east of Country Club East and south of State Road 70.

The project, one of nearly 60 subdivisions that Pulte Homes— a subsidiary of Pulte Group — develops under the Del Webb name, would be the first age-restricted community in Lakewood Ranch.

To live in the community, at least one buyer in a home has to be 55 years old or older.

Manatee County planning staff is reviewing the project application now.

The Manatee County Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to review the plan May 8, before the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners votes on it June 5.

“We did not want to come out the gate with this type of product and be known predominantly as a retirement community,” said Todd Pokrywa, SMR’s vice president of strategic affairs. “We have options that appeal to everybody. But now, we’ve matured to the point where we can add that product and capture some of that growing market. We had requests specifically for the age-restricted community product.”

While Del Webb would be SMR’s first age-restricted community, SMR also considers one of its already established subdivisions, Esplanade, an age-targeted community.

Homes in Esplanade are not exclusive to a certain age, but its amenities target older, active adults.

But Del Webb — and other recent additions to Lakewood Ranch’s offerings (see sidebar) — more explicitly target seniors.

“We see a resurgence in excitement for this type of housing in Lakewood Ranch,” said Valerie Dolenga, a spokeswoman for the Pulte Group. “There are a lot of baby boomers who want to retire with people similar to them. They can join clubs and social groups and even work out together.”

With employment hubs such as Lakewood Ranch Corporate and Commerce parks, and entertainment options such as Lakewood Ranch Main Street and to-be-developed venues in the Lakewood Centre Development of Regional Impact, SMR believes it can and has attracted young professionals and families.

Jimmy Stewart, vice-president of sales for LWR Communities, a subsidiary of SMR, says the average age in Lakewood Ranch is 46 years old.

SMR believes it can benefit from the multi-generational families already here and give them offerings that will make them stay in Lakewood Ranch as they age, or as other life circumstances change.

“It’s an opportunity for people to grow with us and to not leave us,” Pokrywa said.

At Del Webb, SMR will continue to provide residential products near its long-planned Lakewood Centre project, a plan for thousands of homes and apartments, more than 1 million square feet of both commercial and office space and a 300-room hotel.

Lakewood Centre, which will encompass an area east of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and north of State Road 70, likely won’t be built out until at least 2026, but providing such a large-scale residential product as Del Webb will create momentum for the project, SMR hopes.

“One of the factors (in landing Del Webb) was having a large residential product by State Road 70,” Pokrywa said. “It continues to create the critical mass to allow success for the commercial and office space to follow.”

While the Pulte Group has not decided on specific details for Del Webb, applications filed with the county show the community would have mostly single-family detached homes, along with some single-family attached and multifamily units.

Designed as an active adult community, Del Webb would also likely have amenities such as a clubhouse, a pool and a trail system.

If the plan gets approval, Pulte Homes would break ground by the end of the year.

SMR adds more senior-living facilities
In addition to Del Webb, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is attracting senior-living facilities.

A national developer of such communities has signed on to build an independent-living facility off Natures Way on the north side of Town Center Parkway.

SMR is also working a deal for a senior-living facility just north of Rangeland Parkway.

Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].


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