The Villages Daily Sun

Growth Surges As Villages Population Reaches 116,000

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Posted: Monday, August 28, 2017 8:51 am

Villagers welcomed about 1,725 new neighbors just from March through this month so far.

That means 115,656 people now live in the Lake, Marion and Sumter county sections of The Villages.

Of the total, 10,416 residents live in Marion, 14,355 in Lake and 90,885 in Sumter.

But don’t confuse The Villages current population with the Census Bureau’s population estimate for The Villages metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Sumter, but not The Villages in Lake or Marion.

Earlier this year, Census declared The Villages as the fastest-growing MSA in the nation, and Sumter as the seventh fastest-growing county, with a 2016 population estimate of 123,996 residents.

Also: Much of this population growth happened in the Fruitland Park section of The Villages — the villages of Pine Ridge and Pine Hills. 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.

Also: Talk about the positive impact of The Villages growth in Fruitland Park. Residential development in Pine Ridge and Pine Hills accounts for a 64 percent year-over-year increase in the city’s taxable value; now about $492 million.

Also: Development in Pine Ridge and Pine Hills contributed a big part to The Villages’ ranking 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.

Also: Growth continues at a rapid pace in the Village of Fenney, as evident from the earth-moving taking place in the Eastern section of this age-restricted neighborhood at the southwest corner of county roads 468 and 501.

Also: By the way, anyone interested in a view of what’s to come in that development area should visit the neighborhoods around Fenney Recreation Center, where District Recreation & Parks celebrated the grand opening Friday of the Fenney Springs Nature Trail. Everyone who sees the trail comments on its beauty.

Also: The Village Community Development District that governs Fenney, CDD 12, grew this month by 491 acres. The Wildwood City Commission, the government agency charged with local oversight of the CDD, unanimously approved the expansion to 1,190 acres, which now stretches from U.S. Highway 301 and south of County Road 468 to Florida’s Turnpike, That expansion absorbed the recently designated Village of McClure, another age-restricted community, at the southeast corner of county roads 468 and 501.

Also: The city’s action is just the latest indicator of the extensive growth taking place in The Villages from north to south and everywhere in between. Just about every retail center in the community has some type of new construction or redevelopment occurring, including Mulberry Grove, Spanish Plaines, Buffalo Ridge, Southern Trace, Sarasota, Colony Professional Plaza, Lake Deaton and Brownwood.

Also: Growth now affects every quadrant of The Villages with The Villages Developer recently announcing plans to revitalize La Plaza Grande North Professional Plaza. At the original business district that served Orange Blossom Gardens, which became The Villages, the Developer plans to demolish five buildings, replace them with two new buildings and then reconfigure 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. Plans do require final approval by the Lady Lake Town Commission.

Also: Continued population growth factored into the decisions by Publix Super Markets and Winn-Dixie Stores in their most recent revitalization efforts. Winn-Dixie at La Plaza Grande just completed an interior makeover, with all work done at night. Publix recently installed footers and piers as part of rebuilding its store at Spanish Plaines Plaza. The makeovers explain 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: Walmart Stores received last week a temporary certificate of occupancy for its Neighborhood Market grocery store, which permits the store’s staff to begin preparations for a opening date tentatively scheduled for Sept. 27.

Also: In one of the more established districts, CDD 4, growth took on a new perspective with the Amenity Authority Committee approving a plan earlier this month to move forward with the proposed acquisition of the fellowship hall and 10 acres from First Baptist Church of The Villages for recreation use. While contract negotiations are ongoing, the proposed recreation expansion is just the latest activity fueling a wave of development in the Marion section of The Villages.

Also: 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.

Also: 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.

Also: To the 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.

Also: Add to the CDD 4 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.

Also: At nearby Mulberry Grove Plaza, roofing work is well underway at the Cody’s Original Roadhouse restaurant adjacent to Lake Medical Imaging. It will be the franchise owners’ third restaurant in The Villages.

Also: Commercial development continues at Lake Deaton Plaza, where Chase Bank recently opened a branch office and interior buildout continues at the Marathon-branded Clark’s Pump-N-Shop convenience store. SunTrust Bank also recently received a permit to build a new branch office there. It will become the third bank at the neighborhood retail center, including a Citizens First Bank branch office.

Also: At Brownwood, The Villages Health health has started finish work on its 20,000-square-foot clinic just north of Grand Traverse Plaza. Surveyors also recently staked the ground for what will become the Estabrook Building, a 30,000-square-foot office building. And Raymond James Financial Services is in the process of completing a new buildout that will expand their footprint at this town center.

Also: The Villages is deep within the planning stage for a new 150-room hotel next to Grand Traverse Plaza at Brownwood, which will include an upscale full-service spa, a resort-style pool, 10,000 square feet of conference space and a Wolfgang Puck-licensed restaurant. The development site plan also calls for the construction of an advanced 250,000-square-foot medical center, with details still pending.

Also: Considerable activity continues at Buffalo Ridge Plaza. Metro Diner advances 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 in Buffalo Ridge, block wall work is well underway at the PetSmart retail store and pet hotel just off Wedgewood Lane and adjacent to the Bealls Department Store.

Also: 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: Resident interest still continues 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 652 acres that the Developer purchased earlier this year to future planning areas, including 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 has purchased, and then connect to a second multimodal bridge over Florida’s Turnpike. Golf carts then would be able to access the villages of 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.


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