The Villages Daily Sun

Specialty Care Center To Enhance Wildwood’s Economic Growth

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Posted: Monday, November 6, 2017 8:51 am

Brilliance peeks over the horizon these days into the eyes of Mayor Ed Wolf and City Manager Jason McHugh.

The details they learned last week about the Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood, for example, only emboldened their economic outlook for the future of Wildwood.

Designed as a bedless hospital, the 285,000-square-foot specialty health care center is being developed by Charlottesville, Virginia-based Anchor Health Properties Inc. in partnership with The Villages Health, Florida Cancer Specialists, Lake Medical Imaging, LabCorp diagnostics and testing, Lake Centre for Rehab, St. Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute, Walgreens Pharmacy and more.

“This is really an exciting longtime opportunity — employment opportunities and quality of life opportunities for our families,” Wolf said. “We’re getting to where we always dreamed we would get to. For years and years, Wildwood residents had to travel to Leesburg or Ocala or farther to see a doctor or even shop. So, this all goes to the quality of living we now have in Sumter County. And it’s all a spinoff of The Villages development. It’s a great time to be living in Wildwood and Sumter County.”

Judging from the growth already in place, McHugh anticipates a flurry of future business growth along the Brownwood-State Road 44 corridor as Anchor Health develops the specialty health care center just west of Grand Traverse Plaza and The Villages Health’s newly opened Brownwood Care Center, a hybrid primary and specialty care clinic.

“With this particular component, the Center for Advanced Healthcare hits home a lot closer because it’s right in the backyard of downtown,” McHugh said. “It’s right here; it’ll be very visible. And, as an economic driver, the jobs at this place will be a real benefit to our community.”

Also: That spinoff benefits from two recent Wildwood City Commission actions — approval of the Southern Oaks Phase III master plan, about 868 acres along the south side of Florida’s Turnpike; and the annexation of 2,104 acres east of U.S. Highway 301 along both sides of the turnpike. While details are unavailable on the annexed land, Phase III includes plans for several residential neighborhoods, a neighborhood commercial center, several recreation areas, golf amenities, open space and a large protected wetland area.

Also: Development is moving fast on Southern Oaks Phase III. Heavy-duty, earth-moving work recently started. Long-term plans call for the development of a multimodal bridge that crosses Florida’s Turnpike near the northern section of Phase III, which then would connect to a dedicated multimodal trail that extends southeast to two tunnels that connect the trail under an as-yet-unnamed connector road and County Road 468 to properties in Village Community Development District 12, including the Village of Fenney, on the south side of the road.

Also: Growth continues within Fenney, too. The city commission recently approved three plats for development of 272 more homes. It includes 126 single-family detached units on about 44 acres in the Unit 7 subdivision, 80 single-family detached units on 9.46 acres in the Magnolia Villas subdivision and 66 single-family detached units on 13.32 acres in the Live Oak Villas subdivision.

Also: All of this growth contributed to the 1.3 percent decrease in September in Sumter’s unemployment rate. The jobless rate now stands at 4.7 percent.

Also: Conversely, this growth contributed to major gains in the employment of Sumter residents, Just from August to September, employment grew by 694 workers. Year-over-year employment grew by 1,710 workers.

Also: Much of the credit for this employment growth goes to companies like the T&D Family Cos., a diversified Wildwood organization that includes T&D Concrete. Over the past 12 months or so, the company recruited around 260 employees and trained them for a range of construction jobs.

Also: One reason accounts for this unprecedented growth in new health care services at Brownwood — new Villagers buying homes. Growth in Fenney, along with some fill-in development in a few other Villages neighborhoods, primarily accounted for the 44 percent year-over-year increase in new Sumter County building permits for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The 1,527 permits the county Planning Department issued over that time produced a 33 percent increase, or $428 million, in new construction value. It’s only the beginning, however, with The Villages presently possessing approved entitlements to build up to 14,000 resident units within the city of Wildwood in and around the villages of Fenney and Southern Oaks.

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