The Villages Daily Sun

AAC Deal Adds to Hot Growth Trend All Over The Villages

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Posted: Monday, August 14, 2017 10:30 am

Growth took on a new perspective last week in the Marion County section of

The Villages.

That happened Wednesday when the Amenity Authority Committee voted unanimously to move forward with a pending $1.5 million deal to buy property from First Baptist Church of The Villages for a possible recreation area.

Hot growth better describes the flurry of activity surrounding the existing church fellowship hall and accompanying 10 acres the AAC wants to buy adjacent to the Village of Chatham.

Titan Senior Living, for example, moves nearer by the day to breaking ground on the 120-bed Chatham Glen Skilled Nursing Facility directly to the west of the main church building and just off County Road 42.

Just to the south of Chatham Glen and the 10 acres up for sale, The Villages Developer plans to build 135 single-family homes in Soulliere Villas at the Village of Chatham.

Then just west of Chatham Glen and Soulliere, the Developer plans to develop seven planned mini-farms on 5- to 7-acre parcels in the newly designated Village of Chatham Acres.

Add to that growth Phillips Villas, 165 single family homes recently developed on 25 acres just north of the Village of Woodbury and east of the Mulberry Grove Plaza neighborhood retail center.

By the way, that retail center operates at 100 percent commercial occupancy.

No wonder franchise partners John Demetriadis and Allen Musikantow can’t wait to open their third Cody’s Original Roadhouse restaurant adjacent to Lake Medical Imaging on a Mulberry Grove Plaza outparcel. Roofing work is about to start there with the trusses now installed.

Then again, growth now affects every quadrant of The Villages.

In the Lady Lake section of The Villages, the Developer recently announced a plan to revitalize the La Plaza Grande North Professional Plaza, the original business district that served Orange Blossom Gardens, which became The Villages.

The revitalization plan, which still requires Lady Lake Town Commission approval, proposes the demolition of five buildings, replacing them with two new buildings and then reconfiguring parking and traffic flow to make the retail center easier to navigate.

By the way, fans of El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant and the Circle K convenience store need not fret. Both will remain open through the revitalization efforts.

Also: Another Lake County community benefits from The Villages expansion. Growth is a big issue this year for the Fruitland Park City Commission as it moves forward in September to adopt a final 2017-18 budget. Because of growth in the villages of Pine Ridge and Pine Hills, the city forecast a 15 percent year-over-year increase in new revenue from electric franchise fees, garbage franchise fees, electric utility tax, communications, service tax and water utility tax. In May, the Census Bureau ranked the city as the seventh-fastest-growing U.S. city and the fastest-growing in Florida. The population in 2016 grew by 34.4 percent, adding about 1,539 new residents for a total population of 6,018. By the way, the growth in those two villages contributed to the 64 percent year-over-year increase in the city’s taxable value; now at about $492 million.

Also: Growing consumer demand factored into the decisions by Publix Super Markets and Winn-Dixie Stores in their most recent revitalization activities. Winn-Dixie at La Plaza Grande recently completed an interior makeover, with all work done at night. Publix just set up electrical connections for the rebuilding of its store at Spanish Plaines Plaza.

The makeovers tell a lot about the grocers’ commitment to The Villages, said Scott Renick, The Villages director of commercial development.

“The fact that each of these businesses have or are currently making significant capital expenditures to reinvest in their stores in The Villages speaks volumes about the strength of and their commitment to our market,” he said.

Also: In another quadrant of The Villages, commercial growth continues at Buffalo Ridge Plaza. Metro Diner is advancing quickly on interior renovations at the restaurant building the owners leased between Arby’s and McDonald’s on County Road 466. Plans call for an October opening of the 4,813-square-foot restaurant. Nearby, footer-and-pier work started at the PetSmart retail store and pet hotel just off Wedgewood Lane and adjacent to the Bealls Department Store.

Also: Commercial construction continues on the fast track at Élan Buena Vista, Together with The Villages, a 224-unit independent, assisted-living and memory care facility at Buena Vista and CR 466. Titan Senior Living, the developer, now expects to receive the certificate of occupancy in February.

Also: To the south, Lake Deaton Plaza remains a hot spot for development. Chase Bank recently opened a branch office, joining Citizens First Bank as the two banks now in operation there. Just recently, SunTrust Bank received a permit to build a new branch office. And mechanical, electrical, plumbing and interior framing work are underway at the Marathon-branded Clark’s Pump-N-Shop convenience store and car wash.

Also: At Brownwood, preliminary planning is underway for the new Shooters World firearms retail, shooting range and training facility. And the new Brownwood Care Center that The Villages Health is building is moving quickly to a possible late fall, early winter opening date.

Also: Major growth near Brownwood is pending with the Developer’s announcement in May to build a 150-room hotel next to Grand Traverse Plaza. It will contain an upscale full-service spa, a resort-style pool, 10,000 square feet of conference space and a Wolfgang Puck-licensed restaurant. Plans there also include development of an advanced 250,000-square-foot medical center.

Also: Village Community Development District 12, which includes the Village of Fenney, recently petitioned the city of Wildwood for permission to add 491 acres to its boundaries. That expansion would absorb the recently designated Village of McClure, another age-restricted community, at the southeast corner of county roads 468 and 501. If approved at tonight’s Wildwood City Commission meeting, the CDD would assume budgetary and operational control over a 1,190-acre area that includes both villages.

Also: Resident interest remains strong over the June 20 unveiling in the Daily Sun of a detailed map that contains the Developer’s vision for the area in and around the villages of Fenney and Southern Oaks. It included the naming of two new villages, McClure and Desoto, and a wealth of new recreation facilities, as well as new golf cart tunnels and bridges.

Also: The Developer continues to pursue avenues of easy golf cart access to Fenney and Southern Oaks from sites near Rohan Recreation Center and the Brownwood town center. Plans call for the development of three multimodal bridges. One is a multimodal path bridge near the recreation center that would cross State Road 44. It would link the Developer’s recent purchase of 652 acres to future planning areas, including the 2,000 acres the city of Leesburg has agreed to sell to the Developer. The second multimodal bridge across SR 44 at Buena Vista would permit access into a 359-acre parcel the Developer recently purchased, and then connect to a second multimodal bridge over Florida’s Turnpike. Golf carts then would be able to access Southern Oaks, Desoto and Fenney via a golf cart tunnel just west of the 468-501 intersection. Another multimodal tunnel about a quarter mile south of the 468-501 intersection would link McClure with Southern Oaks, Fenney and Desoto.

Also: All of the new residential growth explains why The Villages ranks as the nation’s second top-selling master-planned community, with 17 percent year-over-year growth for the six months ended June 30, according to the researchers at RCLCO Real Estate Advisors, one of the U.S. real estate industry’s go-to sources for research and consultation services.

David Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 9066, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.