LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A record-breaking land purchase that extends the northern reach of the Lakewood Ranch community is expected to give Neal Communities a bit of extra cache when it puts its latest subdivision on the market early next year.
Last week, Lakewood Ranch-based Neal purchased about 111 acres from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. for $8.29 million, according to Manatee County records. Located at the eastern terminus of 44th Avenue, the rural land will be combined with an earlier purchase to become Indigo, an approximately 500-home development. The deal, which was partially financed by SMR to the tune of $4.14 million according to records, is the largest amount Neal has ever paid in a single land deal in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Neal Communities President Pat Neal said his company has already started infrastructure construction on 39 acres of pasture he purchased for the development in June for $3.2 million from Loraine B. Riker. The work is timed to bring the first Indigo homes to the market just as Neal Communities sells the last of 80 homes it still has for sale in the company's 826-home Central Park subdivision on the south side of 44th Avenue. Neal said his company is selling those homes at a rate of about 12 per month.
The entire Indigo community will be included within the borders of
Lakewood Ranch, a master-planned development controlled by Schroeder-Manatee. Indigo marks the farthest north Lakewood Ranch has ever extended, according to the community's official map.
"The Lakewood Ranch address adds great panache," Neal said. "It certainly enhances the value."
The first of the new homes will be for sale in about five months with prices starting in the $200,000 range. Neal said Indigo will have "enhanced amenities" compared with Central Park, including a recreation director and resort-style swimming pool. Homes in the community are being built with a mixed buyer audience in mind, "active adults" and families.
Neal Communities must still seek Manatee County approval to begin building on its new acreage. The Riker acreage had development entitlements in place when Neal bought it.
The neighborhood surrounding Indigo will likely be a busy one. Bonita Springs-based WCI purchased 93 lots in The Links at Rosedale development June 30 at the western end of 44th, paying $7.39 million.
Work going into the site includes a 1,400-foot eastern extention of 44th Ave., the construction of several lakes and general site preparation. Neal Communities will be reimbursed for the 44th Avenue construction by the Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District. The road will eventually be turned over to Manatee County.
The addition of the Riker property to Lakewood Ranch marks the second time Neal has been able to bring non-SMR land into the borders of the master-planned community. Previously, his Country Club West subdivision was absorbed into Lakewood Ranch.
Neal's latest purchase was carved out of a roughly 1,600-acre parcel SMR owns. The land stretches north to State Road 64 and east to Lorraine Road.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.