The Villages Daily Sun

Health Care Drives Growth; Planning Starts At Soulliere Villas

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Posted: Monday, July 24, 2017 9:24 am

The front page article in Sunday’s newspaper about the 15th anniversary of The Villages Regional Hospital further illustrates the importance of the health care industry in The Villages metropolitan statistical area.

When it opened it 2002, the hospital totaled 270 workers. Last year, it employed 1,233 workers, excluding physicians.

The hospital provides so many services not even seen a decade ago, said Don Henderson, president and CEO of Central Florida Health, the parent company of The Villages hospital and Leesburg Regional Medical Center.

“It has been very exciting to see this growth,” he said. “To grow from 60 beds to 300 beds in 15 years is a significant undertaking, but one that has been driven by the needs of the community. We are now able to provide a full complement of services, including advanced stroke, heart and surgical care.”

The hospital’s growth also offers insight into why The Villages Developer recently announced a ground-breaking joint venture to develop a 250,000-square-foot medical center adjacent to Grand Traverse Plaza at Brownwood, said Scott Renick, The Villages director of commercial development.

“It’s an important component to our growth plan, with all the new residents moving here and having a need to establish relationships with health care providers,” he said about the goal of The Villages Developer to provide residents with the highest quality health care system possible. “It’s certainly a factor in locating a substantial health care hub at Brownwood.”

Just north of the hospital, Publix Super Markets just expressed a big commitment to The Villages ongoing growth with the start of demolition at the store it owns in Spanish Plaines Plaza. Construction documents put the renovation cost at about $4 million.

The Lakeland-based grocery chain, which operates six other stores in The Villages, anticipates a late first quarter or early second quarter construction completion date.

Expect growth activity to ramp up soon at the new Soulliere Villas at the Village of Chatham. The new villa community will contain about 135 homes.

The Villages Developer is reviewing blueprints and revising civil engineering drawings for the postal station, recreation area and gate.

Growth emerged as a big discussion item for the Fruitland Park City Commission during its recent budget workshops.

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: Just in case you missed it, Gov. Rick Scott likes what he sees happening in The Villages.

During a recent visit to honor veterans, Scott expressed strong support for The Villages’ continued growth.

The governor solidly backs the announcement by The Villages Developer earlier this year to expand and build 14,000 new homes in and around the villages of Fenney and Southern Oaks.

“There’s not many other places growing like The Villages, in the entire state or anywhere in the country, or anywhere the world,” he told the Daily Sun in an exclusive interview.

Also: Scott expressed keen insight into employment growth in The Villages MSA. It added 1,233 new jobs from May 2016 to May 2017, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. That’s a 4.5 percent year-over-year growth, according to the state.

Also: That job growth, with a large portion of it occurring in the home-building sectors, also explains why The Villages ranks as the nation’s second top-selling master-planned community, with a 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: The continuing growth of The Villages MSA accounts for the latest gains in real personal income, according to a report released earlier this month by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2011 to 2015, real personal income in the MSA grew by about $831 million over the five-year period. Real personal income in the MSA totals about $4.64 billion. And all indicators suggest that growth continued into this year, too.

Also: The drum beats on in The Villages commercial construction sector, too. At Lake Deaton Plaza, for instance, Chase Bank recently opened last week. And work just reached the dry-in phase at the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop convenience store. SunTrust Bank also is going through permitting to build a new branch office.

Also: Commercial growth continues at Buffalo Ridge Plaza, where 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, PetSmart began foundation work on its new retail store and pet hotel just off Wedgewood Lane and adjacent to the Bealls Department Store.

Also: At the Northern edge of The Villages, concrete block wall work reached the lintel-tie beam stage, with truss installation likely to start soon, at the Cody’s Original Roadhouse restaurant adjacent to Lake Medical Imaging on County Road 42 at Mulberry Grove Plaza. That’s not all. To the west of Buena Vista Boulevard on County Road 42, Titan Senior Living is about to start commercial construction on the 120-bed Chatham Glen Skilled Nursing Facility adjacent to Soulliere Villas.

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, is confident about a planned October construction completion date.

Also: Resident interest 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. McClure covers about 456 acres with entitlements for around 1,550 homes at the southeast corner of county roads 468 and 501. Desoto would contain a smaller number of homes about a quarter of a mile or so west of CR 501 and south of CR 468 and adjacent to the western edge of Southern Oaks.

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 Rohan Recreation Center that would cross State Road 44. It would link the 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 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 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: Structural work is very visible now on the SECO Energy electrical substation expansion on CR 501 adjacent to Southern Oaks. The upgrade will add enough capacity for 25,000 homes and nearby businesses.

Also: The Villages is moving forward with a new 150-room hotel next to Grand Traverse Plaza that 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 large advanced medical center — roughly 250,000 square feet — will be built next door.


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