Manatee Parade of Homes reports strong interest

jajones1@bradenton.comFebruary 20, 2012 

MANATEE -- Even gusting winds and rain couldn’t keep them away.

Foot traffic was heavy Sunday for new home models featured on The Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota annual Parade of Homes.

About 60 model homes are being showcased at Lakewood Ranch, Parrish, University Park, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Venice.

The parade continues daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through March 4, except on Sundays when models are open noon-5 p.m.

That may have contributed to the busy Sunday.

“We had people waiting for us at noon when we opened the Lakewood Ranch Information Center,” said Carol Edwards. “We have had a very exciting turnout.”

The home building industry was severely hurt by the Great Recession, but recently there have been signs of a rebounding market.

Patricia Fitzsimmons, a home sales representative in the Belleisle neighborhood of Lakewood Ranch’s Country Club East, said traffic “has been terrific.”

Indeed, cars jammed parking spaces outside Neal Communities’ Windsong and Endless Summer 2 models as couples checked out the new homes.

“People are looking for green building features, and smaller homes,” Fitzsimmons said.

Some are downsizing, including empty nesters, those approaching retirement, or in the market for a second home, she said.

At Taylor Morrison’s brand-new Esplanade active lifestyle community north of State Road 70 at Lakewood Ranch, traffic was also intense.

“It’s been nonstop. We have been extremely busy today, weather and all,” said Amy Vleck, lifestyle director for Esplanade.

Shoppers are attracted to the Esplanade’s many planned activities, and it’s easy lifestyle, said Rhonda Fleming-Hill, a senior sales associate.

“We do your lawn for you,” Fleming-Hill said.

Among those checking out the Esplanade models Sunday were Richard and Ellen Suszek of Bradenton.

Richard Suszek said he was most interested in an open kitchen and living area.

Ellen Suszek said she likes “nice big his and her’s closets” and a nice kitchen.

For more information on the Parade visit

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021. Tweet: @jajones1

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