BRADENTON -- It's being called one of the biggest development projects inside of the city limits in decades, and it's boasted to be one of the most technological residential developments in the world.
The 229-acre property dubbed The Villages of Glen Creek -- named for Glen Creek that the property surrounds -- is being designed for "Generations X, Y and Z," said Mike Lawson, director of land development for the Metro Development Group. "This is a large enough development to accommodate all the uses for each generation that all have one thing in common: They want more technology."
Included in the development's technology aspect is a partnership with Bright House Networks that will allow residents access to wi-fi throughout the development, including green space where a variety of apps will be available that can automatically download data to a person's smart phone telling them things like what kind of plants they are near.
The City Council approved a major amendment request Wednesday that clears the project for the design phase. The property, formerly owned by Mixon Fruit Farms, is north and south of 26th Avenue East between 15th Street East and 27th Street East. It will feature 1,373 residential units with 12,000 square feet of approved commercial retail space. Of the total number of dwelling units, plans allow up to 571 multi-family homes.
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo asked if that meant more than 570 duplexes could be built.
Lawson said he believes the multi-family terminology is meant more for apartment or condominium-style living. He also pledged that the development would not feature more than what is proposed on the original plan.
He said a reduction in plot size is not an attempt to increase density by building more units, which would require additional public hearings, but to increase green space to allow for amenities like exercise and nature trails. The development proposal was approved in 2006 in the midst of the housing boom. But as development plans began to take shape, the housing boom busted, the economy tanked and plans to proceed with the development screeched to a halt.
With the economy continuing along a slow road to recovery, plans like Glen Creek are starting to pick back up again. Lawson, along with representatives of King Engineering Associates, appeared before the city council Wednesday to discuss reducing the lot sizes to give builders more flexibility.
"The market is still volatile," said Lawson. "In developing properties elsewhere, we have had to design three times to accommodate some builders."
Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff said he has liked the project from its inception.
"It was one of the better projects that came at us in the midst of the housing boom, and I'm looking forward to following through on those plans," he said. "More than 1,370 homes will increase our tax base so we can have increased revenue without adding taxes to current residents. And I like the idea that you will have retail space on site, which helps the economy. A lot of developers are shying away from that."
Lawson said the council's approval means the first design phase would begin immediately, and will be brought back to the city council when completed. He estimated the entire development could be completed within five or six years.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.