Lakewood Ranch WatersideLAKEWOOD RANCH -- Construction of the new community of Lakewood Ranch Waterside officially begins Tuesday afternoon with a by-invitation-only groundbreaking.

Waterside, or The Villages of Lakewood Ranch South as it was referred to in 2001 when plans were first unveiled at the Sarasota Hyatt hotel, will be built on 1,425 acres of a 5,940-acre site, leaving 4,065 acres as open space.

It is the most significant development yet under the Sarasota 2050 plan, which guides development of Sarasota County east of Interstate 75 through the year 2050.

The Waterside property is south of University Parkway, the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, and Sarasota Polo Club.

Envisioned are 12 neighborhoods with 5,144 homes to be built around a series of seven lakes.

Single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and apartments are planned with 40 percent of the new housing designated as work force housing.

Sales are expected to begin in 2017. The first builders are Pulte with 246 homes planned, and Homes by Towne with 571 homes planned.

Also planned are 390,000-square-feet of commercial and office space, including a 140,000-square-foot village center. Construction of the village center, on the banks of the largest of the seven lakes, is expected to begin in 2018.

Residents will be able to take water taxies powered by quiet electric motors to visit the village center, which will house shops, restaurants, apartments and more. No watercraft with internal combustion engines will be allowed on the lakes.

Lakewood Ranch Waterside

In addition, SMR has already launched a road building program to extend Deer Drive, Lorraine Road and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard south into Waterside. Eventually, Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road will be extended to Fruitville Road. Road and utility improvements are being financed by a $79.5 million bond issue through the Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District.

At some point, a pedestrian and bike friendly bridge over Interstate 75 will be built connecting Waterside with Cattlemen Road near the Mall at UTC and Benderson Park.

SMR is touting the 1,000 acres of lakes, and 20 miles of shorelines as an amenity for the new neighborhoods, offering boating, kayaking and canoeing opportunities. Waterside will also feature hundreds of acres of parks and open spaces.

All of the homes in Waterside will be built to Florida Green Building Coalition standards for energy efficiency, sustainability, clean indoor air, and have drought tolerant lansdscaping.

It is anticipated that a new public elementary school will be built in Waterside with a pedestrian connection under Lorraine Road to the school and park.

Article from Bradenton Herald

Writer James A. Jones Jr.