Planned community on Manatee Fruit property to be called Lake Flores

cschelle@bradenton.comApril 26, 2014 

Whiting Preston, President of Manatee Fruit Company, reacts as a passing motorist tells him to 'smile' near a sign on 1300 acres of his land near 75th Street West and Cortez. Preston and family have a website where they encourage people to visit and give input. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald


WEST BRADENTON -- The 1,300-acre master planned West Bradenton community in the works by Whiting Preston will be called the Crossroads no more.

Preston, president of Manatee Fruit Co., announced Friday that the community will be called Lake Flores, which also confirms his plans on file for a 19-acre man-made lake as the centerpiece to the housing and retail project.

"Since Lake Flores will be a memorable spot for residents and visitors, we wanted it to be reflected in our name as a commitment to all we stand for with this project," Preston said. "Our vision is to recapture the beauty this land once held and create a lake surrounded by aquatic plants, canopy trees, flowers, and walking trails to serve as a central meeting area for all to enjoy."

The lake would be built west of 75th Street and south of Cortez Road, according to documents on file with Manatee County.

A pre-application draft with the county shows he wants to build 6,500 homes, 2.78 million square feet of commercial/ retail/ office and two 250-room hotels. The commercial uses will be broken up into three District zones in neighborhood/ village centers. Working documents and approvals for the property have called the land Crossroads, so named for the intersection of Cortez and 75th and other key roads that in

tersect the property.

"One of the core values we have as a family -- and one that we carried over to this project -- is being authentic to ourselves and to our community," Preston said.

Now, the name will honor both his mother, Flavia Florez Preston, and the heritage of gladiolus his father Walter Preston first planted and which grew for more than 50 years on the property. Florez is pronounced Flores in their family, and it is Spanish for flower, Preston said. Florez passed away in 2012. His father was a nationally known floriculturist who created several new flower species on the land.

"There are many facets to the name that reflect our family's values. From the legacy this land once had to the opportunity it now presents, we are excited to evolve our Lake Flores vision into a great, scenic people place that the entire community can enjoy," Preston said. The project has not proceeded past a pre-application meeting with Manatee County and have not been approved for development yet.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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