LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Dirt starts flying March 23 for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch's 2,000-acre Waterside community in Sarasota County.
"It's been a long time coming," Rex Jensen, CEO and president of SMR, said Friday.
Waterside, previously called the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South, will include 5,144 residential units and 400,000 square feet of commercial and residential development at buildout.
Much of Friday's Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District meeting focused on tweaking contracts in advance of the complex project.
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The district previously awarded an $11,421,604 contract to Woodruff & Sons Inc. of Bradenton to extend and widen about 2.23 miles of Lorraine Road, and an $8,903,032 contract to Frederick Derr & Co. of Sarasota to extend Deer Drive 2.29 miles.
A notice to proceed on Lorraine Road will be given for March 26, and a notice to proceed on Deer Drive will be given for April 4, district engineer Mike Kennedy said.
SMR awarded a $1,289,460
contract in January to Florida Dredge and Dock of Tarpon Springs to dredge the largest lake in the planned Waterside area down to a depth of 8 feet.
The 90-day contract not only removes cattails that clog the 6,200-foot-long lake and keep them from returning, but would also help clear the decks for work on the proposed town center.
Planned for the town center are shops, restaurants and apartments. In all, Waterside will have 12 neighborhoods planned around a system of seven lakes, connected not only by a road system but electric water taxis.
Waterside will be located just south of the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, Sarasota Polo Club and The Lake Club.
In February, the stewardship district authorized a $79.5 million bond issue to pay for roads and utilities in Waterside.
All of the infrastructure will be completed before home building begins.
Builders announced so far for Waterside include Pulte and Homes by Towne.
In other business Friday, Jensen asked his staff to contact the Florida Department of Transportation about its plans for the Rye Road-State Road 64 intersection.
SMR has extended White Eagle Boulevard from State Road 70 north toward State Road 64. Eventually, White Eagle would intersect with Rye Road and State Road 64.
"Residents are suffering mightily in that Rye Road area, and have expressed concerns," Jensen said. "We need to plead for accelerated timing on what FDOT plans to do with State Road 64."
In the interim, SMR will build White Eagle up to State Road 64, but not connect with it, he said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.