EAST MANATEE -- Prominent Manatee developer Neal Communities will unveil its latest housing development this weekend, a sign the local housing market is healing.
Fairfield, a 140 single-family home, gated community just west of Interstate 75 on State Road 70, features a pool and spa, lounge, fitness area, retention pond and is a certified green community.
With houses priced in the high $100s, Fairfield offers homes from 1,4342 square feet to 1,524 square feet and includes waterfront properties.
The community is the developer's sixth housing project in the past five years and the first in Manatee County since the opening of Woodbrook in 2011. The latest subdivision introduction was in September when the company unveiled Grand Palm, a 1,999-home community in Venice.
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"We have owned this property for quite a while," said Pat Neal, owner and president of the company. "We held off on building it until the time was right and with the quickly recovering market and our record sales year, we knew the time was now."
Seventy potential buyers participated in a pre-construction preview. Six home sites already have been sold, said Nicole Caldwell, Neal's area sales manager.
The design of the homes, described by Caldwell as neoclassical style, uses stucco and white trim with tile roofing along stone-paved driveways. The properties are elevated and positioned 10-15 feet apart, Caldwell said.
Neal Communities isn't the only developer with ongoing projects in Manatee.
National home builder Lennar recently purchased 172 acres on State Road 70 and Pope Road in Lakewood Ranch and plans to build 281 single-family houses on the site, which it acquired from Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder Manatee Ranch for $6.6 million. Bridgewater will feature three to six bedroom models, with sizes ranging from 1,861 to 3,800 square feet at prices from the $200,000s upwards of $500,000. Construction of the first new homes will begin in early 2013.
"Lakewood Ranch is an exciting new opportunity for us and it's a perfect match for Lennar Homes," said Matt Devereaux, vice president of sales for Lennar Homes in Southwest Florida.
At Fairfield. Neal also unveils technology new to his list of projects. Situated in the sales room is a standing interactive map which allows guests to tour the property with the touch of a button, see which properties have already been sold, furnish their homes with virtual furniture and learn the history of Neal Communities.
"We expect this community to fill a unique niche in the market place," said David Hunihan, director of sales for the Lakewood Ranch-based builder. "The value is right, the timing is right, and the location of the community is ideal."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams