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Lakewood Ranch leaders eager to build sense of community. Here are steps they’re taking

They are now 36,000 strong, and their numbers are growing.

Residents of Lakewood Ranch come from, well, everywhere. And they are settling in new neighborhoods well beyond those started 25 years ago with the launch of the master-planned community.

“The great thing about Lakewood Ranch is that we are all coming from somewhere else. We’re all trying to find our tribe,” said Monaca Onstad, director of community relations for Lakewood Ranch.

To help residents find their tribe, Ranch officials are doubling down on efforts to build community and expanding those efforts across all 31,000 acres being developed by Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.

In the Ranch’s first 10 years, most of the development was between University Parkway and State Road 70, a fairly compact area of 8,000 acres. Anything north or south of that and to the east of Lorraine Road — the Ranch’s remaining 23,000 acres — seemed like distant frontier.

Lakewood Ranch now has more homes and residents in that sprawling 23,000-acre frontier, called the Stewardship District, than it does in its original phase.

Lakewood Ranch recently expanded community activities to cover the entire Ranch with events such as the Backyard Concert series, the Community Camp Out, LWR Talks and The Market.

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A large apartment complex now under construction in the Green at Lakewood Ranch symbolizes growth beyond the original phase of Lakewood Ranch. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

The next concert features the Bearded Brothers Band from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Summerfield Community Park, 6402 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

Neighbors from all over the Ranch are invited to bring their own picnic, coolers and chairs to the concert. Due to limited parking at the park, two trollies will be running from Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

On March 10, the concert series continues with Tobacco Road Band, also in the Summerfield park.

“We look at Community Activities as the social fabric of the community,” Onstad said.

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San Marco Plaza bustles with business as Lakewood Ranch has grown to include an estimated 35,000 residents. James A. Jones Jr. jajones1@bradenton.com

The goal is to bring Lakewood Ranch residents together regardless of their neighborhood, said Keith Pandeloglou, director of Community Activities.

“We don’t want to have borders around what we do,” said Pandeloglou, who oversees 60 clubs and organizations at the Ranch.

The new neighborhood initiative includes a diverse offering of activities:

  • LWR Talks: A speaker series conducted in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College. The monthly series is held at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. Talks planned include The President’s Daily Brief on Feb. 19, Artificial Intelligence: Good or Evil on March 9, and Embracing Life Transitions on April 16.

  • Community Camp Out: Families are invited to camp at Adventure Park from 3 p.m.-10 a.m. on Feb. 23-24. Planned activities include camp fire smores, tent pitching demos, stargazing with an astronomer, a family movie, treasure hunts, live music and a nature hike.

  • The Market is a Lakewood Ranch’s farmers market held from 3-7 p.m. each Wednesday from December through April at Sarasota Polo Club. Featured are organic produce, meat, poultry, eggs, breads, pasta, juices and prepared foods from more than 40 vendors.

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Developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch plans to reopen the former Summerfield information center, 6310 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., as town hall north on March 5 to provide more space for clubs to meet and as a service center for the parks north of S.R. 70 Bradenton Herald file photo

Developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch plans to reopen the former Summerfield information center, 6310 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., as town hall north on March 5 to provide more space for clubs to meet and as a service center for the parks north of S.R. 70. Initially, the building will be staffed two days a week, Onstad said.

Lakewood Ranch leaders hope the new offerings help all of parts of the community to seamlessly blend together in spirit as well as geographically.

For more information on the new community outreaches, visit lwrcac.com.

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