Does Waterside Bode Cityhood for Lakewood Ranch?


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, January 29th, 2016 – Previous moves to incorporate the Lakewood Ranch (LWR) into a city may soon be revived as its developer, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch (SMR), is set to start in the 2016 first half the infrastructure construction for the massive Lakewood Ranch Waterside community in Sarasota County.

Formerly called the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South, this project is programmed as sprawling community of about 3,500 acres south of University Parkway past the LWR Corporate Park, Sarasota Polo Club and The Lake Club. SMR plans to develop 12 neighborhoods in this property for a total of more than 5,000 units. These will include not only new additions to single-family Sarasota homes for sale but also affordable apartments for workforce housing.

Critical Mass Forming

Does Waterside Bode Cityhood for Lakewood Ranch?

The Lakewood Ranch population can be expected to grow exponentially with the Waterside community going onstream along with a number of other projects either under construction or in the pipeline within the master development. LWR, as per the recent Census Bureau estimate, has a population of nearly 21,000 which already approximates the city population of Venice.

Census data put the number of homes in Lakewood Ranch at 9,158. Not counting Waterside, industry figures show that 261 homes and 640 apartments are currently being constructed, with more on the drawing boards. These planned Sarasota homes for sale include the 1,200 residences for the Del Webb retirement community in LWR. Starting this 2016, sales will also start in several new communities, including Arbor Grande, Lakewood National, Mallory Park, and Savanna.

Uptick in Revenues

Altogether, these housing projects put Lakewood Ranch closer to the 9,000 additional homes that a Manatee County Commissioner earlier said would be needed for cityhood to be viable for the master development. An initiative for the LWR’s incorporation into a city was pursued in 2011 but failed to muster enough support in a straw poll amongst residents.

Interest in incorporating LWR into a city can likewise be rekindled by the increased revenue from the commercial and retail components in some of the current and upcoming property developments. The Waterside project alone will add 400,000 square feet of commercial development while other housing projects are serving as magnets for new business locators at Lakewood Ranch.

At U.S. Sales Apex

Official census figures show that as of 2012, Lakewood Ranch hosts 628 businesses employing 4,915 employees for a total yearly payroll of $191.45 million. Many of the master development’s commercial enterprises are located at LWR’s Main Street which has come on its own as an attraction not only for Lakewood Ranch homes for sale but also for those nearby in Sarasota and Bradenton.

Lakewood Ranch, which marked its 20th anniversary in 2015, has also consistently emerged as among the top 10 best-selling master-planned communities in recent years. In 2015, one industry report noted that sales of new homes in Lakewood Ranch rose 13 percent to 535 residences. The master-planned development also drew over 28,000 to its home models and information centers during the year, indicating the keen market interest on LWR that looks continually grooming itself for the future as a new Southwest Florida city.