The Villages Daily Sun

Top of the News Developer: The Villages Expansion Going Strong

Mark Morse and family share success stories with VHA members

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Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:00 am | Updated: 2:38 pm, Wed May 17, 2017.


The mission of “building a retirement community where people’s dreams come true” never stops for The Villages Developer Mark Morse and his family.

Nor does it stop producing breaking news on new developments for residents.

Although Wednesday’s “An Evening with the Developer” with the VHA membership had been planned weeks in advance, the latest news materialized earlier in the day, allowing Morse and his family to illicit “ooh” and “ah” reactions — along with plenty of applause — from the capacity crowd at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center.

During the annual address, Morse announced the purchase of property that will enable golf car traffic from Brownwood to connect with the expansion south of State Road 44. His sister, Tracy Mathews, who serves as vice president of The Villages Design Division, announced that Brownwood will serve as anchor for a specialty care clinic adjoined by a resort hotel and restaurant featuring the touch of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. And sister Jennifer Parr, vice president of The Villages Sales and Marketing, shared news of a new community in Marion County named Chatham Acres that will feature seven large lots ranging in size from 5 to 7 acres.

Those were just starters on a night where The Villages development team shared a glimpse of the future, fueled by a series of land purchases that will enable the creation of at least 14,000 new homes and extend the retirement lifestyle to thousands more who will call the community home for years to come.

But Morse was quick to point out that what lies ahead calls for some trusted and committed help. He said his family wants to hear from current residents who have “great ideas” about shaping the future of the community.

While talking about the close relationship the Developer shares with Villagers, Parr became emotional with pride, her voice cracking when she described what the bond means to her.

“We’re really a blessed family. I just have to say ‘thank you’ to all of you for entrusting us to make this such an amazing place,” she said.

If Parr and Morse have their way, the ties will become even stronger, as they want to hear from residents on where they come from, what they like, and what they want to see next for their community.

“We think that most of the great ideas come from you guys,” Morse told the audience.

With that goal in mind, The Villages has revamped its annual resident survey to make it simpler and more open-ended for explanations. And it no longer will be anonymous, as the Developer is hoping to speak with residents in more detail when good ideas are brought forth.

“So consider it a call to action tonight; we need your help,” Morse told the VHA members. “We need to talk to you guys to see what you think we might need to be doing, what kinds of things you’d like to see us do better and what kind of things you’d like to see us do differently.”

Throughout the evening, residents heard about new developments, including the announcement of a new Brownwood Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art specialty care clinic that will be managed in a partnership with Anchor Health. That 250,000-square-foot facility will be connected to the Brownwood Hotel and Spa, a 150-room facility that will feature a multifunctional courtyard, 10,000 square feet of conference center space and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant.

The Villages also will see the addition of a 50,000-square-foot Shooters World, an indoor gun range that will be constructed near the intersection of Powell Road and County Road 44A, said Kelsea Manly, director of operations for The Villages.

Manly also announced that Habaneros Mexican Grill will join the Southern Trace Plaza lineup, while Metro Diner is slated for Buffalo Ridge Plaza.

Those new facilities add to a robust business climate that witnessed The Villages sign 42 new businesses to leases in the past year while gaining 45 five-year renewals from existing operators, Manly added.

Meanwhile, the 15,000 people who toured the Village of Fenney earlier this year might want to check out the soon-to-be-opened Fenney Recreation Center during a mid-June, ticketed-event preview. They’ll get to see a facility that features 125 to 150 pieces of Florida nature artwork from Villages artists, Parr said, while Mathews added that the center features a resort- style swimming pool and is surrounded by nature trails.

“It’s very different from anything we’ve had to offer before,” Mathews said.

Parr also announced that The Villages soon will offer a unique, limited edition seven lots approximately five acres in size in Marion County. It will be known as Chatham Acres and will offer spacious living with golf car accessibility and full access to amenities.

Despite all the new housing offerings, Harper Boone, a member of The Villages leadership team, pointed out that resale home sales remain brisk. He said they’re on the market for an average of 60 days and usually hold 97 percent of the desired market price when they’re sold.

Paige McCabe, director of polo for The Villages, shared several facility enhancement updates for The Villages Polo Club, which is celebrating its 20th year in the community. And she announced that Francisco Bilbao is the new polo manager.

Artistic Director Whitney Morse released the new season lineup for The Sharon, which includes Clint Black, Ben Vereen, Bernadette Peters, Kansas and Jersey Boys. And she also detailed the new four-show season for the popular The Studio at Tierra Del Sol.

Mark Morse closed the night with praise for the VHA and government officials in Wildwood and Sumter County for their lengthy working relationships.

“We’re here because we want to build a retirement community where people’s dreams come true,” Morse said.