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Another Elwood Park development effort stalls

Eastwind Development attorney asks for continuance to consider more revisions to the villa project.

The yellow outline shows the proposed site for the Villas at Elwood Park.
The yellow outline shows the proposed site for the Villas at Elwood Park.
Courtesy image
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Despite Manatee County's development boom closing in around the Elwood Park neighborhood, which was established in 1915, residents have successfully fought to preserve their unique pocket of agriculture and housing mix — so far.

In 2022, Elwood Park residents banned together against Jordan Creek, a proposal for 56 villas on 19 acres that were never built. In 2023, the community celebrated another win after a project for 202 townhomes on 22.9 acres was voted down by the Board of County Commissioners. 

Residents have gathered again to oppose a reworked version of the townhome project, which now has turned into the Villas at Elwood Park. The site is located at the northeast corner of 44th Avenue E. and 45th Street E. 

On April 11, the planning commission approved the revision 4-2. However, at the April 18 land use meeting, the project didn’t make it to a vote. Scott Rudacille, the attorney representing applicant Eastwind Development LLC, asked for a continuance.

“(Residents) stated their position very well. We, of course, understand it,” Rudacille said. “After hearing the additional comments today, we would like an additional opportunity to go back and look at this plan one more time.”

The continuance was unanimously approved, but no date was set as for when a revision would come back to the board. 

From townhomes to villas, high density was the biggest issue all three projects faced. 

This development map shows the agricultural pocket Elwood Park residents have preserved and the proposed site for the Villas at Elwood Park.
Courtesy image

“One of the problems with this particular development is that it’s going 1,000 feet into Elwood Park,” resident John Rachide said. ”That kind of density is not compatible at all.” 

Elwood Park’s density is 1.05 per acre, and Eastwind was proposing 8.5 units per acre. The future land use allows for the transition up to three units per acre.

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge told residents that if the same density is brought back, he will vote against the project. 

While the plans were modified, the residential density remained the same. The major difference was that the original plans included 20,000 square feet of commercial space that was removed during revisions. 

Developers also upped the amount of affordable housing included in the project from 10% to 25%, which qualifies it for Livable Manatee incentives. The county program offers a higher density than what’s normally allowed within the zoning if a developer includes affordable housing units.

“That’s only being done for incentives,” resident Ryan MacLachlan said. “Is it really affordable? Because nothing these days is.”

Commission George Kruse said he’s a proponent of affordable housing projects, but wasn’t going to change his mind that the project shouldn’t exceed more than three dwelling units per acre. 

Rachide said residents of Elwood Park would happily agree to three dwelling units per acre. 

“When somebody brings something to the meeting that we can say, ‘We’re all for it,’ that’s going to be when we’ve really won,” Rachide said. “Eventually, the developers will get the idea that there’s a way to do this and still make money. They just can’t make filthy money.”



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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