The Villages scores another national ranking

Window installation is underway at the building that Technology Solutions Group will occupy in the Powell Plaza professional center on Powell Road just north of County Road 44A.

The Villages outpaced all U.S. metropolitan markets last year in per capita single-family building permits, according to a Daily Sun review of recently released Census Bureau data. Of 2,928 permits issued in 2019, The Villages MSA and Sumter County ranked first with 227 permits per 10,000 residents. The Villages eclipsed the following MSAs that made the Top 10 list: St. George, Utah, 161; Austin-Round Rock, Texas, 148; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 147, Boise City, Idaho, 146, Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, South and North Carolina, 134; Auburn-Opelika, Alabama, 128;

Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, 127; and Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas and Missouri, 125.

Several reasons account for why The Villages and the county produce such results, said Frank Calascione, Sumter County’s economic development director,

“This demonstrates what a great place Sumter County is to live, and that there continues to be a strong demand for homes near all the natural beauty, activities and amenities our area has to offer,” he said.

In Florida, The Villages outpaced Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, 127 per 10,000 residents; Punta Gorda, 121; North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, 121; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 121; and Lakeland-Winter Haven, 113.

Also: The Villages ranking reinforces why it was America’s top-selling master-planned community in 2019. With a 14% increase in year-over-year sales, The Villages leads the rankings compiled by Bethesda, Maryland-based RCLCO Real Estate Advisors for the seventh consecutive year. The Villages also was No. 1 on the firm’s Best of the Decade list for being in the top 10 in sales in each of the last 10 years. “This master-planned community showed extreme resilience even during the worst of the last recession,” said Gregg Logan, managing director of the firm that has tracked nationwide sales since 1994. “Although some had predicted that The Villages would be winding down residential sales by now, it’s going strong and off to a great start this decade.” Sarasota’s Lakewood Ranch was second with 1,655 home sales and Summerlin of Henderson, Nevada, was third with 1,320. Logan attributed the amenities-rich lifestyle for The Villages’ unparalleled popularity. “When you look at a master-planned community, there’s a physical plan — roads and houses,” he said. “But the key thing that makes these communities successful is a lifestyle master plan. The Villages has a strong lifestyle master plan. It’s the clubs and all the activities, and it’s delivered at a competitive price point.”

Also: The performance of The Villages during strong and soft markets explains the ongoing commercial success around Brownwood. New commercial additions are reshaping the town center, said Scott Renick, The Villages director of commercial development. “Just compared Brownwood today to even a year ago; it’s completely changed,” he said. Phase III of the Brownwood expansion continues at a brisk pace for five Old Florida-themed buildings. Tenant buildout is the next step at Brownwood Train Station, 2795 Brownwood Blvd., Sebald Saloon, 2750 Brownwood Blvd., and Sandspur Ice Plant, 2763 Brownwood Blvd. All three of those buildings recently received their certificate of final occupancy. Work is moving fast at the St. Johns County Courthouse, 3719 Meggison Road, another of the Old-Florida themed buildings. Tenant spaces in those buildings should fill quickly, Renick said. “We were running low on commercial supply,” he said. “We have had a good amount of interest in those spaces. We have a handful of businesses signed to leases already, and this gives us the ability to respond when we’re talking with other folks.”

Also: Brownwood’s growing commercial market soon will get another boost with the opening this year of The Lofts of Brownwood, a 12-acre age-restricted apartment community. Interior and exterior finish work is underway at the two main buildings to the east, while rough-in work continues at the two main buildings to the west. When completed, it will feature 265, one-, two- and three-bedroom units in eight buildings that cover 136,000 square feet. The community includes covered garage parking. Amenities include a dog park, a resort-style pool and deck area and a community building.