Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is seeking to make a land swap with the Manatee School District for a proposed high school site.
SMR wants to trade land next to Premier Sports Campus, located north of State Road 70, for property the district owns off State Road 64 and Dam Road.
“I think it’s going quite well,” Jensen said after the meeting of the swap talks.
The school district owns 157 acres off State Road 64 that was envisioned as a high school and kindergarten through eighth grade school and transportation hub, school district spokesman Mike Barber said. The district bought the property from SMR before the Great Recession that brought development to a standstill for several years.
“That is all the district is prepared to say at this time,” Barber said.
Jensen also announced four new contracts that would help complete the development of the Northeast Sector of Lakewood Ranch within the next dozen years. He made the remarks during his annual State of the Ranch address to the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance on Wednesday at Polo Grill’s Fete Ballroom.
The Northeast Sector property is located east of Lorraine Road and south of State Road 64.
Jensen also referenced the county’s plan to build a library at Lakewood Ranch, using library impact fees, and said as part of its development agreement with county, SMR has reserved land for the new facility north of State Road 70.
We need to put the elements in place early, not after the fact.
Rex Jensen, CEO and president of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch
The original Lakewood Ranch, which started as a timber operation in the early 1900s, is “gradually disappearing,” Jensen said of the four new contracts with unidentified developers that will potentially bring thousands of housing rooftops to the community. In addition, a fifth contract is pending.
Lakewood Ranch is now at a crossroads for asking what it will need in roads, workforce housing, parks, schools and more, he said.
“We need to put the elements in place early, not after the fact,” he said of infrastructure and cited SMR’s record of partnering on schools, the six-laning of State Road 70, and the four-laning of State Road 64.
As part of putting the infrastructure in place, SMR is building 28 miles of roads at Lakewood Ranch in the next few years, including 18 in Manatee County, and nine in Sarasota County.
Most of those roads in Sarasota County would serve the new Waterside community being built on 1,425 acres of a 5,940-acre site. All of those roads will be completed by August with the exception of a section of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard to Fruitville Road, which has been delayed by right-of-way acquisition.
Waterside will eventually be home to 12 neighborhoods with 5,144 homes. Groundbreaking fort Waterside was held in April, and there are already 800 contracts for lots there, Jensen said.
In early 2018, SMR will have the groundbreaking for Waterside Place, essentially the heart of Waterside, and future location for the $28 million Players Centre for Performing Arts. Waterside Place will be built next to an eight-acre island park on a 36-acre peninsula, and contain a mix of residences and businesses, including a farmers market area. The Jack Olson Nature Center will be located just north of Waterside.
The Players Centre hosts more than 300 performances a year, and will help make Waterside “an incredible destination,” Jensen said.
SMR is also looking at using water taxis to help residents get around the lakes that define the Waterside community.
Sharon Hillstrom, president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp.
Lakewood Ranch, the fourth leading master planned community in the United States, has grown to 12,125 households with a population estimated at 30,555. Last year, 778 homes sold at Lakewood Ranch, bringing another 1,900 residents to the area.
Helping to meet that growth, Publix is expected to build another three or four supermarkets at Lakewood Ranch in the next five to six years, Jensen said.
Sharon Hillstrom, president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp., was among the capacity crowd at Fete Ballroom to hear Jensen’s comments.
“Really impressive,” Hillstrom said of Jensen’s report.
“We are always looking for these things that make us a unique community. He talked a lot about private-public partnerships. It has to be that way or otherwise it’s too expensive,” Hillstrom said. “I think Lakewood Ranch is well positioned.”