The effort to create an active adult lifestyle in the Southern Oaks expansion region is rapidly making progress.

That is seen in the wave of recreational assets coming online over the next year and half.

Staff at the District Recreation and Parks Department, for instance, already is preparing for the opening of the Willow Tree Recreation Area in the fast-developing Village of McClure.

What transpires over the next year excites the staff, too, Recreation and Parks Director John Rohan said.

“Our department welcomes the endless opportunities to create, program and bring to life these new recreational amenities as part of the Developer’s master plan that will enhance and enrich the lives of our residents,” he said.

And the Willow Tree opening is happening at the right time, too, especially with the Wildwood City Commission approving three final plats last week in McClure.

Those plats enable the Developer to pull permits and begin home building within Unit 18, which contains 79 single-family detached lots on 49.64 acres at County Road 501 and at the southeast corner of the intersection of Fenney Way and Warm Springs Avenue (formerly County Road 468); Unit 19, which contains 81 single-family detached lots on 20.84 acres at the southwest corner of Fenney Way and Warm Springs; and Haven Villas, which contains 60 single-family detached lots on 7.24 acres to the south of Unit 19.

Next up, construction already has started on the Marsh View Pitch-n-Putt starter shack at the Village of Marsh Bend north of Warm Springs Avenue and about a half-mile west of Florida’s Turnpike. The course is due to open next spring, and construction begins on the pitch-n-putt restroom in early August.

The recreational amenities also will include the Everglades Recreation Complex and adjoining Hogeye Nature Trail north of the Warm Springs Avenue and County Road 501 intersection at Marsh Bend. Due to open in fall 2019, this 32-acre recreation area will contain a 32,000-square-foot recreation building and theater, a softball complex, 16 miles of walking trail and much more.

And site work already has started on River Bend Recreation Area at the Village of Linden, the community at the southwest corner of Warm Springs Avenue and CR 501. It will contain an 11,000-square-foot recreation building; a pool and splash pad; a fire pit; and bocce, shuffleboard and cornhole facilities. The Developer anticipates filing the building permit in early August.

Also: Reader interest continues to flow in at a steady pace now that the Developer has started site work and filed permits to build the Lofts at Brownwood. Many of the callers indicated they submitted requests through the Developer’s website,, for more information about the 265 age-restricted, apartment-style living units at the southeast corner of Powell Road and County Road 44A at Brownwood. It will include covered parking, a pool with pavilion, a clubhouse, a dog park and a mail center. And residents will have full access to The Villages’ amenities through a monthly amenity fee, plus golf cart access to all recreational and commercial services in the community. Because of the scope of the project, the Developer recently secured development approval from the Wildwood commission to permanently close Brownwood Boulevard from Shady Nook Run to County Road 44A. As construction progresses, the Developer also anticipates closing Shady Nook Run east of Brownwood Boulevard.

Also: When it comes to reader interest, Shooters World at CR 44A and Powell Plaza at Brownwood remains high on the list. That interest surged last week with the general contractor raising the tilt walls that will form the structure of the 52,177-square-foot, golf cart accessible firearms retail store, shooting range and training center.

Also: New signs of progress emerged last week at the Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood and the adjoining Brownwood Hotel & Spa. Preliminary work has started in advance of laying the foundation for this 198,000-square-foot multi-specialty medical center. And two elevator pits, mats and footings passed partial inspection at this seven-story, 150-room resort hotel that will feature a medical spa, a Wolfgang Puck-licensed restaurant and conference facilities.

Also: Fast-track describes the Developer’s promise to expand golf cart connectivity from The Villages north of State Road 44 to the Southern Oaks expansion area. Pilings are being set for a multimodal bridge across the Florida Department of Transportation retention pond to the east of Barnstorm Theater. The development team now is working with state officials to iron out details on the connecting multimodal bridge across SR 44 that will connect to Southern Oaks. That bridge, reminiscent of an Old Florida railroad bridge, will feature the weathered-look of corten steel, curved trusses and large pillars and then connect with a series of multimodal trails and tunnels into new neighborhoods under development.

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