Southern Oaks Phase III on Fast Track; Plans Name Amenities - The Villages Daily Sun: Growth

Southern Oaks Phase III on Fast Track; Plans Name Amenities

By David R. Corder, Daily Sun | Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017 9:09 am

Earth movers and land planners kept equally busy last week at Phase III of the Village of Southern Oaks.

Site work quickened at this planned age-restricted, mixed-use residential development north of County Road 468, east of Florida’s Turnpike and stopping just short of U.S. Highway 301.

While workers pushed dirt, land use planners representing The Villages earned tentative approval Tuesday from Special Master W. Grant Watson, serving as the Wildwood Planning & Zoning Board, to expand Phase III further west by 38 acres for a total of 906 acres.

In a related action, Watson also issued a favorable recommendation on the site plan for Phase 1 of the Marsh Bend Trail at Phase III, about 44 acres of roadway, grading and drainage at the Southeastern section of the project.

Also, master plan drawings revealed for the first time the names of two new recreational amenities — Everglades Recreation Center, on par with Eisenhower, Rohan and similar-sized centers, and the Everglades Softball Complex. It did not list any other details.

The Wildwood City Commission will review Watson’s recommendations at a later date.

Also: While serving as the city’s Local Planning Agency at a separate meeting Tuesday, Watson issued a favorable recommendation on a large-scale comprehensive plan amendment for about 41 acres of Southern Oaks located due south of Meggison Road at Brownwood on the south side of State Road 44 and north of the turnpike. The amendment proposes an amendment to the Southern Oaks comprehensive plan to reclassify the 41 acres as appropriate for age-restricted development from the current classification as general commercial and employment center neighborhood mixed use. While classified as age-restricted, the property owner could develop compatible commercial and institutional components as well as residential uses. Although The Villages filed the amendment, the subject property has been sold to an affiliate of Central Florida Health, the parent of The Villages Regional Hospital and Leesburg Medical Center. Central Florida Health recently announced plans to build an emergency department on that site. The Wildwood Commission is scheduled to review that application at 7 p.m. today during its regularly scheduled meeting at city hall, 100 N. Main St.

Also: Once again, The Villages has the highest percentage of married persons out of any U.S. metropolitan statistical area, the Census Bureau reported Thursday in the annual release of its five-year American Community Survey. They account for about 62 percent of the population in The Villages MSA. However, the report also revealed the number of singles in the community, especially younger baby boomers, climbed significantly just from 2015 to 2016. And the annual release indicates residents of The Villages are a little wealthier and better educated.

Also: Earlier this month, the Census also released a report on small area income and poverty that revealed a remarkable trend in Sumter County. Median household income grew faster in the county, because of The Villages, than anywhere else in the state over a nine-year period that started just prior to the Great Recession and ended Dec. 31, 2016, according to Census researchers. What’s compelling, however, is that income growth contributed to a proportional decrease in the county’s overall poverty rate during the same time period.

Also: Early anecdotal reports from retailers and restaurants throughout The Villages just might be a predictor of even stronger Christmas sales than last year. For instance, retail, food and beverage sales totaled $442.4 million during November-December 2016 in The Villages MSA. That’s a 46.5 percent increase from November-December 2015.

Also: Wildwood continues to add new jobs to the Sumter County employment roll, with Aldi recently announcing it is hiring 28 workers for a new store in the retail center east of Powell Road and north of County Road 466A. Those jobs combine with the 150 jobs that Lowe’s Cos. Inc. needs for its new store in the same retail center. Filling the Lowe’s jobs wasn’t too difficult, either, Lowe’s spokesman Steve Salazar said.

Also: The job growth in Wildwood, including construction trade needs in and around the villages of Fenney and Southern Oaks, accounts for recent gains in Sumter employment. Year-over-year employment growth for October in the county remained steady at 4 percent, with 1,134 new jobs added since October a year ago, the state advised in its latest jobs report.

David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or