LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lou Marinaccio lives and works near the border of Sarasota and Manatee counties, University Parkway.
As owner of a multimillion dollar home in The Concession and president of Lakewood Ranch-based insurance company Gallagher MGA, Marinaccio can’t help but keep his eye on what is about to happen immediately south, the development of Lakewood Ranch at Waterside, formerly called The Villages of Lakewood Ranch South.
In 2016, Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch will break ground and start home sales in its first major development in Sarasota County, after more than a decade of trying to get the project through the approval process.
The project is slated to have 5,144 residential units and 390,000 square feet of commercial, office and retail space on 5,500 acres around and immediately south of the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park. Approvals from Sarasota County came with a requirement to have 40% of the residential development as community/affordable housing, and to extend both Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road south to Fruitville Road.
Marinaccio is excited about both. From a homeowner perspective, the project and roadway extensions will open up Lakewood Ranch and nearby residents to a new plethora of shopping and dining opportunities. From a business standpoint, the project will provide affordable housing options for employees.
“A challenge is to find affordable real estate for our employees,” Marinaccio said. “I like the fact that we’re going to see some new housing options, and I think having options is what our community is all about.”
SMR President and CEO Rex Jensen and SMR Vice President of Planning Richard Bedford agree.
Jensen said the requirement to have community/affordable housing, which by Sarasota County’s stipulations means 2,037 homes must be priced at or below 80% to 120% of the area median income, elevates the community. It also will create housing for millennials.
Jensen said home values should only improve as the Ranch further builds itself as a live-work-play community.
Bedford said housing in Waterside will target a different demographic, primarily individuals in the northern part of Sarasota County, who work in the downtown area.
“It will not take away from other parts of Lakewood Ranch,” he said. “We think northern Sarasota County, for a decade, has had no development.”
SMR expects to start construction on both roadways in March with construction lasting 12 to 18 months.