Officials of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch have had their shovels ready for more than a decade.
In just a few weeks, they’ll get to use them.
The company will break ground on its first major residential development in Sarasota County March 23.
It’s called Waterside.
“By the end of this year, you’ll see homes popping up, amenity centers and those kinds of things,” said Richard Bedford, SMR’s vice president of planning.
The overall project, previously called the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South, generally runs from Interstate 75 to east of Lorraine Road between University Parkway and Fruitville Road. It is located immediately south of the Sarasota Polo Club and the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park and includes 5,144 residential units surrounding seven large lakes created by SMR’s shell mining operations. It also includes 390,000 square feet of commercial space, 90,000 square feet of civic space and hundreds of acres of preserves and wetlands on 5,500 total acres.
The first phase of construction will include about 775 units, primarily single family homes with some condominiums, across two parcels. Nearly every homesite will be waterfront.
Land is under contract with Pulte Homes and Homes by Towne.
Bedford said they are both builders with whom SMR has worked well with in the past and were willing to work together — a “must” considering SMR will build a roadway through the properties that their developments will share.
That element, Bedford said, will create a more unified street-scape, among other benefits
“The whole thing has to get done and stitched together,” he said.
None of the single-family home projects within Waterside will be gated because gate restrictions are only allowed for condominiums and apartments, per Waterside’s approvals.
SMR envisions Waterside as a high-density walkable community that capitalizes on waterfront living. It will be filled with scenic views of conservation lands and park areas spread throughout the community.
“I think it’s going to be such a different experience, not only for Lakewood Ranch residents but it’s going to be a destination in this region,” said Laura Cole, SMR’s new director of marketing. “There’s 20 miles of shoreline. It’s going to be a very different offering that what we’ve seen.”
The project also is significant for the area’s transportation network. SMR will extend both Lorraine Road and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard south to Fruitville Road, creating north-south connectors east of Interstate 75.
“The biggest part of us building in Sarasota is Sarasota is getting roads,” Bedford said.
Bedford said bids are out for various segments of both roadways and construction likely will commence after Waterside’s groundbreaking. The four-lane roadways, as well as an extension of Deer Drive west to Lakewood Ranch Bouelvard, will be complete by second quarter 2017.
“We’re building nine miles of four-lane roads and three roundabouts in 12 months,” he said. “Infrastructure will be in before homeowners. That’s our mantra.”