LAKEWOOD RANCH -- With the stroke of a pen Friday, Rex Jensen signed off on a $79.5 million bond issue to pay for roads and utilities in Schroeder-Manatee Ranch's massive Waterside project in Sarasota County.
Construction of Waterside, also known as the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South, is expected to begin in the second quarter on 2,000 acres south of the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, Sarasota Polo Club and The Lake Club. All property is south of University Parkway.
Jensen, sitting chairman of the Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District, said the bond issue will fund the extension of Lorraine Road and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard south to Fruitville Road. Deer Drive, which ends near The Out-of-Door Academy, will be extended south to the planned Waterside town center and west to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. All new roadways will be four lanes.
Waterside is planned for 5,144 residential units and 400,000 square feet of commercial and residential development.
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The 30-year bond issue is twice as large as any previously done by developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Jensen said.
"It truly builds the infrastructure," said economist Hank Fishkind, whose firm Fishkind & Associates provides management services for the stewardship dis
The Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District was enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2005 as a special form of government with the power to issue bonds to fund construction infrastructure, including landscaping, utilities and roadways. The district covers 23,000 acres owned by SMR in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
"We will have a groundbreaking in relatively short order," Jensen said. "The bond issue was driven by the need to complete these fairly significant regional connectors."
Friday's stewardship district meeting was continued until 9 a.m. Feb. 19 when board members will review bids submitted for the extension of Lorraine Road.
Issuing a $79.5 million bond was an easy sell, said district underwriter Brett Sealy.
"Given the lengthy history of the project (Lakewood Ranch), it speaks for itself," Sealy said.
Waterside will be built around seven lakes, the largest of which is 6,200 feet long, and will include a town center of shops, restaurants and apartments.
When built out in 20 years, Waterside is expected to have 12 neighborhoods and 2,037 workforce housing units. About 40 percent of Waterside housing is planned for workforce housing.
SMR's Sarasota County holdings include the 2,000-acre Heritage Ranch conservation easement immediately east of Waterside. SMR also has another 3,000 acres east of Heritage Ranch called SMR Myakka. No development plans have been announced for SMR Myakka.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.