LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A huge Lakewood Ranch project has been approved, with the amended building plans that its developers sought.
Manatee County commissioners voted unanimously -- 7-0 -- to OK 697-acre Lakewood Centre during a land-use meeting Thursday.
Lakewood Centre is slated for construction north of State Road 70, between Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Pope Road. The project sits in the middle of a rapidly developing area of Lakewood Ranch. Construction is already underway there on the 256-unit Creekside Apartments.
Upon completion, which is projected in 2026, Lakewood Centre will feature 4,683 residential units, 1.674 million square feet of commercial space, 1.463 million square feet of office space, a 300-room hotel and 36.8 acres of park land, according to county documents. The three-phase project was originally approved in August 2008.
Todd Pokrywa, vice president of planning for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., said the approval allows them to move even more rapidly with plans.
"The amendments provided for an exchange for 100,000 square feet of residential and 100,000 square feet of commercial," said Pokrywa.
The changes allow for 1,008 residential units, on which construction will start in 2014. Original plans approved by the commissioners state that certain land uses could be traded.
Pokrywa said developers are following market demands for more housing in the area, which is quickly filling with new residents. Several single-family home developments have popped
up within a few square miles, including Taylor Morrison Home Builder's Esplanade, Builder Lennar's Bridgewater and Neal Homes' Central Park neighborhood.
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who represents the district that includes Lakewood Ranch, said the area is lucky to have SMR developing in the community.
"They've just been a wonderful developer in our community and Manatee," said Baugh.
She said SMR and developers like them in Lakewood Ranch have been the key to national recognition that the area has gained, like being ranked as one of the top-selling master planned communities in the nation in 2012 by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
"With growth in East Manatee, it helps with job growth," she said. "We want to get our people back to work."
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.