Central Florida Health earned strong applause a little more than a year ago during a Villages Homeowners Advocates meeting at the announcement to build an emergency department in the Southern Oaks region.

Now, the process to create it is becoming a reality.

The parent of The Villages Regional Hospital and Leesburg Regional Medical Center recently started the permitting process to build a one-story, 24,015-square-foot building on 3.71 acres of the 35 acres that the nonprofit hospital group owns on the south side of State Road 44 at the Meggison Road entrance to the Brownwood town center.

No question the emergency department plans complement the southern end of the community’s medical facility landscape with The Villages development of the Center for Advanced Healthcare, a bed-less specialty care center, and the adjoining Brownwood Hotel & Spa, just west of Grand Traverse Plaza at Brownwood, which will serve as a patient health care option for recuperation time from outpatient procedures at the healthcare center. Grand Traverse also is home to the Brownwood Care Center, a multi-speciality and primary care medical practice that The Villages Health operates.

The construction completion date is pending.

Also: The planned emergency department also fits squarely within the Developer’s strategic connectivity initiative, since it links directly to the announced Meggison Road expansion south of State Road 44. Once fully developed, Meggison Road eventually connects with Morse Boulevard at Warm Springs Avenue and then southward to one of the Developer’s newest properties — The Villages of West Lake at Leesburg. Plans to build a connectivity bridge over SR 44 just west of Buena Vista Boulevard would provide golf cart access through land the Developer owns and easements around Wildwood Country Resort. It would link to another connectivity bridge the Developer recently built at Buena Vista and SR 44 across a Brownwood Community Development District stormwater retention pond.

Also: Once completed, that planned connectivity bridge across SR 44 eventually links to another connectivity bridge that would cross Florida’s Turnpike. That bridge, one of two that would cross the turnpike in Southern Oaks, connects directly with the planned Waterlily Recreation Center at the Village De Luna. Waterlily, now in the permitting process, calls for the development of a 9,700-square-foot recreation building, a 10,884-square-foot pool-and-deck area, a 924-square-foot pavilion; plus, bocci, shuffleboard, pickleball, cornhole and an outdoor exercise facility.

Also: Not only do they connect with the planned turnpike connectivity bridge, Waterlily and the developing villages of De Luna and Marsh Bend connect with Marsh Bend Trail. Along with Meggison Road, Marsh Bend Trail serves as a key component to the regional roadway network the Developer agreed to build the network earlier this year in partnership with the Sumter County Commission. Marsh Bend Tail eventually will connect with U.S. Highway 301; from there, to the planned Fenney Way extension; then, to the Warm Springs Avenue and County Road 501 intersection.

Also: Friday’s reopening of CR 501, a widening project part of the regional roadway network, now leads directly to the Corbin Trail entrance to the west into the villages of McClure, DeSoto and Fenney; as well as, south to CR 470 and then east to the turnpike and west to Interstate 75. Corbin Trail east, which is not open to the public, yet, connects with the villages of Linden and Monarch Grove, both now under development. 

Also: Very soon, however, The Villages Developer will be making a big push into Southern Oaks phase II, about 2,905 acres directly south of Monarch Grove to CR 470 and east of CR 501 and west of the turnpike. The Developer recently received permits that establish pre-development conditions that cover flood elevation and stormwater runoff rates and volumes.

Also: The Developer earned the endorsement last week of the Wildwood special magistrate, serving as the Planning & Zoning Board and Local Planning Agency, for a comprehensive land-use amendment on 159 acres that connect with Fenney about mile south of the Warm Springs and U.S. 301 intersection at its existing southwestern border. The amendment, which requires Wildwood City Commission approval, would designate the acreage for age-restricted uses.

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