LAKEWOOD RANCH -- In another sign of a strengthening economy, Taylor Morrison Home Builders officially opened the second phase of Esplanade Golf and Country Club Wednesday, consisting of 800 homes to be built around a new 18-hole golf course.
Esplanade of Lakewood Ranch opened in January 2011 on 200 acres north of State Road 70 near Pope Road. Nearly all 400 units in the original development have been sold, said Cammie Longenecker, vice president of sales and marketing for Taylor Morrison.
The company laid out plans Wednesday for 400 adjoining acres to the northeast, adding
800 homes, a golf course and other amenities, including a lagoon pool, fitness center and spa. The combined areas will be known as Esplanade Golf and Country Club.
The centerpiece is a luxury clubhouse complete with grand ballroom, card and craft room, catering kitchen, billiard room and library.
Miles of walking trails with gazebos will crisscross the community, which includes a formal events lawn, fitness lawn, canoe and kayak launch, fenced dog park and an adventure playground.
Golf course designer Chris Wilczynski said the 6,700-yard course will be blended into the natural terrain.
"These holes feel like they've been here forever," he said.
The course is being built with playability and aesthetics in mind.
"There's a lot of water," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Houses will range from 1,600 square feet to 3,100 square feet, and cost anywhere from $320,000 to $389,000, according to Taylor Morrison promotional material.
Tony Squitieri, vice president of land resources for the builder, is carefully optimistic in his assessment of what the new construction means for the economy.
"There's a lot more activity" in recent months, he said. "We believe in the project. We believe in Lakewood Ranch. They've done a great job in drawing families here."
Steve Kempton, president of the West Florida division of Taylor Morrison, agreed.
"We just opened a year ago last January," he said, pointing to 400 existing homes in the development. "We're excited."