New Urbanist Project Ready for Takeoff in West Bradenton


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, August 18th, 2015 – An urban infill project, which is geared more toward development within Manatee rather than the often-lamented building in suburbia, has been unanimously approved 5-0 by the county commission in early August 2015.

Earning high praises from the commissioners was the proposed Lake Flores, a mixed-use development planned under the New Urbanist principles for a nearly 3,000-acre site in West Bradenton. On the drawing boards since 2013, this project has a 20-year horizon and a potent contributor to the stock of Sarasota homes for sale. This development will eventually see the construction of 6,500 homes and 500 hotel rooms, in addition to 3 million square feet of office and retail space.

Lake Flores, so named after its planned 19-acre centerpiece lagoon, will rise south of Cortez Road at the flanks of 75th Street West, 53rd Avenue West, and El Conquistador Parkway. This property is owned by the Preston family which had it as a gladiolus farm for 50 years and currently leases it as a tomato plantation.

No to urban sprawl

New Urbanist Project Ready for Takeoff in West Bradenton

Family head Whiting Preston, who hired consultants for the project, noted that a recent the Urban Land Institute study has urged county officials to encourage growth into the southwest county area of the Lake Flores site. Describing the development as urban infill, Preston stressed that they chose to develop the property as a whole under a single concept or vision, rather than selling its portions incrementally for unconnected subdivisions and strip shopping centers.

One of the county commissioners, John Chappie, whose district covers the Lake Flores area, agrees, saying that this new project avoids the “typical urban sprawl” characteristic of piecemeal development.

Preston noted that their property is “virtually surrounded by development” where public services already exist. However, this locality has been described by one long-time resident as a “tired area.” Here, businesses and schools are said to be “suffering” and in urgent need of an economic boost which should likewise help improve market prospects of Sarasota homes for sale in the locality.

Job and tax contributions

According to Preston, Lake Flores at build out will have generated 11,000 jobs on site. Ultimately, this development will have an estimated real estate value of close to $2 billion. Using current tax rates, it would add nearly $17 million in annual property taxes.

One of the county commissioners, Robin DiSabatino, said the Lake Flores concept and neo-traditional look presented to them reminds him of Celebration, the New Urbanist community of Disney World featuring walkable neighborhoods flanked by a walkable downtown.

Apt infrastructure support

Lake Flores planners indeed put emphasis on walkability and connectivity within the development. They plan to do this mainly through a 50-foot wide trail winding across the property suitable not only for pedestrians but also for bicyclists and shuttles.

Besides lakes, parks, and plazas, the development’s neighborhood features will include single-family homes, apartment buildings, and tree-lined interconnecting roads. Commercial structures will be built near Cortez Road, with six stories as maximum building height.

A 12-mile internal road grid system will be required for the Lake Flores development. The main thoroughfares nearby—El Conquistador Parkway and 75th Street—will also have roundabouts. These will be constructed to help cope with the expected 69,000 trips that the Lake Flores development is expected to generate daily to and from the property, infrastructures which should likewise help in generating market interest in Sarasota homes for sale around this locality.