LAKEWOOD RANCH -- On a Friday afternoon following a morning of thunder and rain, Drs. Brenda Yanofsky and Carole Hart were busy overseeing contractors coming and going from their brand new condominiums at the corner of Miramar Way. They will soon be new neighbors and already are the best of friends.
Brenda, who is the new owner of a 1,420-square-foot, ground-floor condo downsized twice from two homes in the University Park area, and Carole, a retiree from Connecticut, is looking forward to starting a new life in the south.
"I'm not homesick one bit,"
she said while busy overseeing painters sprucing up her large top-floor, two-bedroom, two-bath condo above Brenda's new home. "I've been running non-stop since I've been here. I'm so glad my broker told me to come to Sarasota first when I got off the plane and began my search for a new home. There's so much culture and art here, and I've met so many wonderful people in such a short time," she said.
Miramar at Lakewood Ranch is one of several condominium communities nestled between the stately homes and neighborhoods of the master-planned community. Overlooking the Legacy Golf Course in Country Club East off University Parkway and Lorraine Road, Miramar is a mile-long, winding road of elegant, Mediterranean-style, two-story townhomes overlooking the fairway, a pond and a gazebo on one side, and cozy, clustered villas on the other.
First built about 10 years ago, the community had a rocky start when the original developer went bankrupt, but it came back strong with the recent completion of the villas by Neal Communities through a joint venture with Hoffman Development Group.
"The community has been through a lot, and it's almost like a phoenix rising here, but it's a great community and we're ready to go," said Anthony Olender, who along with his wife Patty, has lived in Miramar since 2008 in one of the large, two-story villas with Southwest Florida touches like lanais and scenic windows that face an overflowing fountain and pond.
Olender, an active retiree who served for several years on the Miramar Master Association that oversees 172 condominimum homes in the community surrounded by three gates, said he chose to move to Lakewood Ranch from Massachusetts because of its proximity to practically everything.
"I came from north of Boston and west of New York, so I wanted to be next to a metropolitan area like Tampa so I could see the Red Sox and the Yankees since I'm a sports guy. I also like having a large airport nearby. I wanted all the benefits of a city like Tampa and Sarasota with a little more country," Olender said.
The location, along with the quality of the townhomes and villas, and the private amenities that include a large clubhouse, pool, spa and picnic area, have attracted a varied mix of residents to Miramar who have stayed a long time, from retirees to working professional singles and couples, families with young children and northern residents who call Miramar a second home. The community is managed by a professional company that together with the master association keeps everyone and everything in check.
"We ask the owners to take pride and be involved in their community. If they see something that isn't right, be it a maintenance issue or a violation, then report it to us so we can address it as soon as possible. I try to explain that during my weekly inspections," says Mat Wilson, vice president of AMI Advanced Management in charge of the Miramar community.
Several months ago, Miramar became involved in a small community controversy when it banned children in the neighborhood from playing in the street, citing safety concerns. In addition to that, some children were reportedly putting ramps in the road to jump off with their bikes and skateboards, which was an impediment to traffic. Master association president Jennifer Tobias, who moved to Miramar with her two daughters from Indiana, said the law has been permanently rescinded and the children are much more respectful of traffic and their neighbors.
"There hasn't been a problem since that happened. We have a well-managed community, and we as board members do a lot to save our residents money. It's small and we all know each other, and that's what's nice," said Tobias, who is in the midst of organizing a get-togther in August for the grand reopening of the community pool that was recently renovated.
For East Manatee realtor Whitney Ellis, a Miramar resident and secretary of the master Association, the community is highly desirable because there are very few multi-family property choices in Lakewood Ranch. In addition, Ellis says the residents really do take the time to get to know each other.
"The days of the front porch don't exist anymore, so there's not a lot of reason to be out front. But we watch out for each other here, and there really is a feeling of community."
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.