Living Lakewood | March 2020

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Spring 2020

Below: Waterside Place rendering; Sunday Yoga at The Market in Lakewood Ranch


Living the Ranch Life We all know what we mean when we say those two words: The Ranch. Lakewood Ranch. As one of the fastest-growing and most successful planned communities in America, Lakewood Ranch buzzes with excitement and energy. New homes crop up almost daily, and new families come seeking their own version of ideal Florida living. Every newcomer brings his or her own sense of adventure (otherwise they wouldn’t have come!) and their own special dreams from which a new imprint will appear on our shared home. It is easy to get so involved in our immediacy that we forget to step back and marvel at what the families, businesses and people of Lakewood Ranch are creating together every day. We’ve all heard the saying, “there are no undiscovered wildernesses left,” and while The Ranch may not be the setting for the next Indiana Jones movie, it is ours to sculpt, enjoy, and celebrate. It’s a rare thing to make a new world; the people of Lakewood Ranch who arrive today will set the standard for thousands of those who are yet to come. In this special section of SRQ Magazine we explore and celebrate what makes Lakewood Ranch “home.”


The #1 Multi-Generational Community in the U.S. Did you know the best-selling multi-generational community in the entire country is located right here in Sarasota?At 50+ square miles, Lakewood Ranch offers more than 17 actively selling villages, each with its own style and amenities. Some have golf courses, others have walkable town centers. All are within minutes of Lakewood Ranch’s A-rated schools, trails and parks, a sports campus, Sarasota Polo Club, a farmers’ market and 365 days worth of activities, arts and entertainment. In fact, there’s so much here that’s believed to positively impact our health, that Lakewood Ranch has been voted the Best Wellness Community by IDEAL Living, and has even been selected as the home for a landmark, multi-generational research initiative that will have global impact on brain health. Just 25 minutes from the white-sand beaches of Sarasota and close to all the cultural attractions of Tampa, Lakewood Ranch is by far one of the best places to call home. Learn more at LAURA COLE


Lakewood Ranch, SPRING 2020 Partnering Sponsor of Living Lakewood

SRQ MEDIA | Executive Publisher

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Lakewood Ranch’s new commercial development resets the community’s cultural center.




development could be for the Sarasota–Manatee area again. With more than 36,000 residents now, the community boasts its own lively Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, a commercial center with hot restaurants, theater options and destination shopping. Will it do so again with a village set to open before the end of this year?


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The First Village

Above: Get your zen on with the new Yoga Shack as they expand with a new studio at Waterside. Below: The owners of JPAN will be opening Korê.

Waterside, the first village concept in the Sarasota County portion of the Ranch, has two neighborhoods already selling and a major 115,000-square-foot commercial hub set to open before the end of the year. Built around seven lakes with 20 miles of shore, the community is luring both residents and tenants to move into a newly developed portion of the 50-square-mile master-planned community. “What we are doing is creating that space that people want to hang out,” explains Tom Johnson, sales and leasing coordinator for LWR Commercial. “That’s evident in the prospects and the tenants we have so far.” Johnson has personally handled all inquiries and leads for the commercial portion of the project. He expects Waterside to provide a new cultural core for the community. “This is not your typical grocery-anchored center,” he says. “This is a community activity center.” Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, notes Lakewood Ranch over the decades has seen plenty of commercial construction. At last count, six centers have opened in the community, most anchored by Publix groceries. “They’re all a little different,” Jensen says. “It all is different depending upon what the neighborhoods are and what the attributes are that we’re seeking to incorporate into these things. In Waterside, there’s a heavy entertainment recreation component to it. That’s a different formula than we might expect with a Publix and just a few stores around it.”

Indeed, there will be no single big box at all. And Johnsons suspects that’s going to be helpful to the new tenants. He personally doesn’t often visit the small stores surrounding a grocery center, but sees destination shops and venues in the Waterside plans that will encourage visitors to mingle and explore. “It’s been important for us to curate the tenant mix,” he says. Cultural and Retail Newcomers Central to that effort will be the location of The Players Centre for Performing Arts, the new home of The Players Theatre. Announced last May, the 70,000-square-foot venue and facility will include a 480-seat main stage, a 125-seat black box and another 100-seat cabaret stage. Artistic Director Jeffery Kin said the location at Waterside made sense as a new home for the company, which looked at eight different spots in the region as options. “We wanted to move somewhere we had room to grow,” he said. For The Players, the opportunity to get some fresh square footage for a new home adjacent to a bustling new commercial center was too much to pass up. For Lakewood Ranch, bringing in the institution allowed an opportunity to make Waterside into a meaningful destination. “It creates our own culture,” says Johnson. That may be the most notable and permanent of new tenants, but it’s not the only one helping shape what Waterside offers to both those living in the immediate area and those searching for a place to visit on a weekend jaunt. Korê, a new restaurant from

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Above: PAINT Nail Bar will be opening up a store for clients looking to keep their manicure fresh. Below: Owner Jim Angus of Atria Café plans to open a bakery in the new center.

the owners of JPAN, will open. Derek The Salon, PAINT Nail Bar, SmithLaw, Foundation Coffee Co., The Yoga Shack, SoFresh and Kilwins have all signed leases to open up with the center as well. And Johnson announced for the first time to SRQ that Crop Juice, an organic smoothie vendor with a strong local following already, will open a permanent storefront in Waterside. He also said Atria Café, a bakery owned by Jim Angus, will be baking its sourdough breads in a new store in the center. Even the placement of shops has been done with an eye for synergy. The Yoga Shack will be located upstairs from SoFresh, a restaurant offering health-conscious bowls. The coffee shop will have garage-style doors opening up so guests feel like they are overlooking a lake. Yoga instructors have already committed to holding weekend outdoor yoga classes, and water taxis will connect surrounding neighborhoods with the island and the commercial center. In total, some 120,000 new square feet of commercial, retail and office space will come on line by the time Waterside fully opens this year, along with an eight-acre park. Johnson said it will be a shopping destination with plenty of water views serving more than high-wealth clients driving the luxury shops from Siesta Key, as well as a number of special realtors you won’t find at the nearby Mall at University Town Center.

fitness center and a saltwater pool. Johnson said Lakewood Ranch intentionally decided to bring rental units in an attempt to reach a market not seeking longterm loans. Developers plan to bring on a total of 800 urban-style apartments and townhomes in the neighborhoods around Waterside. Builders plan to sell some 4,000 freestanding homes in Waterside Place, which will have access to trails and water taxi stations. Two neighborhoods already have homes on the market. Pulte Homes has plans to build 246 houses in the Shoreview neighborhood, and has nine designs for one- and two-story builds available there, with prices ranging in the $500,000 to more than $1 million range. Meanwhile, LakeHouse Cove has 391 home lots being built up by three builders: Arthur Rutenberg, Lee Wetherington and Homes by Towne. All offer a variety of designs, with Homes by Towne offering their smallest models (around 1,800 square feet) starting in the $400,000s and Pulte offering four-bedroom homes (around 4,320 square feet) being sold for just over $1 million. Ultimately, some 12 neighborhoods are planned around the Waterside area of Lakewood Ranch. LL

Residential Neighborhoods As for the residential element, Lakewood Ranch this summer opened The Adley at Lakewood Ranch Waterside, with 299 apartments starting at $1,400 a month, along with resort amenities, a

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DINING Another Broken Egg CafĂŠ

A neighborhood favorite, Another Broken Egg offers breakfast and lunch. Get the Very French Toast topped with bananas, berries, walnuts, cinnamon and whipped cream for a sweet morning, throw in a mango mimosa to make it even sweeter. Broken Egg offers two-forone specials on domestic beers and house wines on Friday a ernoons. Breakfast and lunch. 6115 Exchange Way, Lakewood Ranch, 941-388-6898.

Casa Maya Mexican Restaurant

Find authentic south-of-the-border flavors with a genuine Mayan emphasis at this casual dining locale. A Guadalajara favorite, signature molcajetes serve up steak, chicken, shrimp, scallops or fish in a heated volcanic stone, mixed with grilled onions, peppers and homemade salsa, served with fresh tortillas. Other specials include Mayan Fajitas, taco salads and enchiladas from the family recipe. 8126 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-9449.

Fast N Fresh

For casual dining and on-the-go eats that won’t leave one feeling guilty, a menu full of salads, wraps and grain bowls fits the bill. Try the meaty Baja Chicken salad or the Spicy Thai Kale, grab a Flower Child bowl made with brown rice, kale, carrots, chickpeas, avocados and house-made tahini or go Mediterranean with spinach, feta, olives and onions in the bowl. And for sandwich-lovers, the panini press is open. 8138 Lakewood Main St, Lakewood Ranch, 941-462-2650.

The area’s first historical Sco ish Golf-themed restaurant has become the neighborhood hangout. Stop by to sample specialties like the Steak Pie or the Haggis and Ta ies—bits of haggis meat wrapped in puff pastry and served with tomato and onion dip. If haggis doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, search the extensive menu for familiar favorites or house specialities like the house-cut sizzling steaks, Sco ish Egg, Sheperd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash.

Grove Restaurant

8110 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-359-2424.

This latest offshoot from the restaurateurs behind the famed Pier 22 offers a wide variety of cuisine—all with a focus on locally sourced and fresh ingredients. Seafood lovers will find their fill amongst Shrimp N Grits, Stuffed Lobster and Scallop Benedict, while those craving red meat can’t go wrong with the Roast Duckling, New Zealand Rack of Lamb or the Wild Game of the Day. Save room for dessert or an a er-dinner coffee or cocktail. 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, 941-893-4321.

Hana Sushi Lounge

Lakewood Main St., N103, Lakewood Ranch, 941-822-8131.

Roll up expecting an artful mix of raw and refined traditional Asian cuisine—and don’t leave disappointed. Say “Aloha� (shrimp, tempura, cream cheese, mango and coconut) to “Godzilla� (spicy tuna, asparagus, eel and avocado) and “King Kong� (shrimp tempura, kani, cream cheese, scallions, spicy tuna, eel and avocado) and leave feeling “Soul Good� (shrimp, cream cheese, avocado, asparagus, salmon and garlic). For those thinking outside the roll, check out the poke bowl selection and bento box specials.

Ed’s Tavern

8126 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-1290.

Cra Growlers Tasting Room

Check out the first cra beer and growler pub in Sarasota/Manatee. It is both a spot to purchase and fill 64and 32-ounce growlers from 45 taps to take home with you, and a casual place to hang out and down a pint or a flight. Its cra taps are filled with a wide array of brews, ranging from Belgian-style ales to ciders, IPAs and a big selection of Florida beers. 8141

The friendly, neighborhood sports bar—complete with a full menu and right next door to the movie theater. Enjoy finger foods and classic bar bites with friends while watching the game, or take a date to the cinema and follow it up with everything from burgers and flatbreads to wings, chili and entrees like the Smoked Pulled Pork Pla er, Jumbo Shrimp and House Smoked Ribs. Don’t forget to explore the rotating taps. 10719 Rodeo Dr., Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-0400.

MacAllisters Grill & Tavern

Inkawasi Peruvian

Homestyle cooking in the Peruvian style brings ceviches, empanadas and yucca to the menu, as well as chifa, a culinary tradition fusing Cantonese Chinese with classic Peruvian. The Tallarin Saltado unites wok-prepared Peruvian flame noodles with green onions, snow peas, peppers and cabbage, complete with chicken, beef or seafood. 10667

Main Street Tra oria

Find classic, Italian fine dining with an eye to artful presentation at this central hotspot. With a bar serving Margherita Flatbread and Fried Ravioli, save room for casual favorites like the Meatball Sub and MST Burger, or go full italiano and order up the Pollo Milanese, Salmon Piccata, MST Gnocchi or Frui i Di Mare. 8131 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-1518.

Paris Bistrot

This family owned and operated bistro serves traditional, French cuisine, directly from “Grandma’s recipes books.� Signature menu staples remain the authentic French Onion Soup, Nicoise Salad, Foie Gras, and the vast variety of quiches and dessert crepes, with many chocolate, fruit and ice cream accoutrements. 8131 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-388-0564.

Pinchers Crab Shack

Vibrant hand-painted signs and tropical parrots abound within this down-to-earth seafood shack. Decide between a boatload of mussels or addictive crab and cheese dip with a kick to start off your meal. Load up on shrimp scampi with secret family spices or jumbo lump crab cakes before topping your meal off with homemade Key lime pie or a dreamy chocolate cake ice cream shake. 10707 Rodeo Dr., Lakewood Ranch, 941-922-1515.

Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, 941-360-1110.

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The fast growing Florida franchise is on a mission to bring fresh, whole foods, rooted in real ingredients. With a trendy fast-casual approach, the modern hangout is a go-to for a healthful lunch of salads, wraps, bowls and cold pressed juices. SoFresh is also a great option for diet-specific preferences, including vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo and gluten-free. 11569 FL-70 #106, Bradenton, 941-769-9550.

Station 400

This is the third location of this beloved brunch spot and inspired by the quaint railroad depot building of the downtown “flagship� location. With a modern feel and the same chef-inspired cuisine, find the Station 400 locomotive circling above diners, along with its extensive menu of mainstay sandwiches, salads, pancakes, cereals and grains, omele es, baked goods and speciality mimosas. 8215 Lakewood Main St., Suite P103, Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-0648.


Stop in anytime the artistic mood strikes and try your hand at a po ery project or even sign up for a workshop. This all-inclusive open studio has the space and resources for po ery painting, glass fusing and even To-Go kits for doing po ery at home. 8111 Main St. #107, Lakewood Ranch, 941-306-5840.

Bows and Arrows Boutique

From everyday fashion rooted in southern style to college “game day� a ire and accessories, this womens boutique has an avid following of young trendse ers and local fashionistas of Florida state colleges and universities. 5275 University Pkwy., Suite #133, Bradenton, 941-210-7158.

Fashion Trade Bo-Tique

A trendy resale boutique specializing in both new and gently-used, “preloved� clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories. This new one-stop consignment shop is great for favorited brand name labels, discounted up to 70% off their original mall retail prices. 8734 East State Rd.

Fine Wine & Tastings on Main

Different from large chain liquor stores, this boutique wine shop offers a selection of “hard to get� international and domestic wines by the glass, as well as a huge inventory of over 450 wines from more than 15 countries, with a focus on small and limited production wineries. 8111 Lakewood Main St., Unit J105, Lakewood Ranch, 941-355-4718.

Influence Style

This is the second location for the well-renowned St Armands Circle modern clothing boutique. Find the same upscale, fashion-forward trends and basic wardrobe essentials with high quality threads and coveted brand names. 8141 Lakewood Main St. Unit N-102, Lakewood Ranch, 941-351-9218. od Ranch, 941-907-8335.

Knot Awl Beads

This full-service bead shop is your source for everything bead related. Featuring SwarovskiÂŽ crystals, semi-precious gemstones, pearls, natural elements, Czech glass, sterling silver, Bali silver, PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and sterling silver sheet and wire in most gauges. It also carries findings, beading wire, leather, silversmithing tools and unique jewelry. 8111 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-8335.

Naples Soap Co.

Stop into this natural bath and body product haven to find organic products safe for your face, body and hair, sans any harsh commercial chemicals. From body bu ers to sea salt scrubs, mud soaps and lip balms, Naples Soap is dermatologist recommended and noticeably treats skin sensitivities like eczema and psoriasis. 8130 Lakewood Main St., Suite #101, Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-0870.

Vanessa Fine Jewelry

Specializing in custom-designed and one-of-a-kind pieces, this fine jewelry showroom features world-renowned designs from manufacturers like Kabana, S. Kashi & Sons, Frederic Sage, Breuning, Elma Gil, Denny Wong, MarahLago and Yanni B. Their on-site repair shop can also handle all of your jewelry and watch repair needs. 8131 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-373-6311.

70, Bradenton, 941-216-3660.

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Village Bikes

This is the second location of the family-owned Sarasota bicycle and repair shop. Find a full assortment of bicycles and cycling accessories, including bike helmets, saddles/ seatposts, pedals and shoes, cycle clothing, lights, computers, bicycle cleaning and repair equipment. They carry quality brands such as Specialized, Kask, SRAM, Hincape, Shimano, Cateye, Garmin, and other top manufacturers of bike equipment. 8111 Lakewood Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 941-388-0550.

Wish on Main

A boutique shop offering women’s fashion, accessories, home decor and unique gi s with delightful service. From quirky finds to stylish brands, this shopping gem can help you find the perfect wardrobe piece or gi for any occasion. 8141 Lakewood Main St. Unit N-106, Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-9125.


An independent, nonprofit, international, college-preparatory Montessori school, NewGate seeks to nurture intelligence, curiosity and imagination while supporting and developing each student’s individual talents. The school teaches universal values and instills a global perspective, responsible citizenship and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, aiming to graduate young people who are life-long learners, critical thinkers, and active leaders. Also an International Baccalaureate World-School. Grades 7–12. 5481 Communications Pkwy., Lakewood Ranch, 941-922-4949.

Out-of-Door Academy

One of the top private schools in the region, this college preparatory institution serves children and students from Pre-K to 12th Grade, with the upper school campus located in Lakewood Ranch. Athletic opportunities abound, including standards like baseball, basketball, soccer and swimming, and even sailing, lacrosse and golf. Recognized as a Cum Laude Society School, this distinction is reserved for the top 1% of all secondary schools in the United States. 5950 Deer Dr., Sarasota, 941554-5950.

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The Pinnacle Academy

Established in 2001, The Pinnacle Academy is dedicated to understanding and educating students who have learning differences. In small classes, learning differences are accepted and individually supported. However, it is their strengths, interests, and talents that are at the forefront of a Pinnacle education. Today, the school offers a private education to over 100 students and continues to grow and change with each passing year, providing students with the instruction, inspiration and opportunity to learn and achieve at their highest potential. 6215 Lorraine Rd., Bradenton, 941-7551400.

Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School

Situated on a fully gated, 35-acre campus, St. Stephens ranks among the top independent, college preparatory schools in the nation, providing education for students in grades Pre-K3 through 12. Students are nurtured in small classes, with faculty who help them navigate a balanced curriculum of academic rigor and character development. A wide variety of customized curricular and extracurricular experiences are offered, as well as a strong college counseling program. A state-of-theart athletic complex hosts sporting events including football, soccer, track and field, lacrosse, baseball, so ball and tennis.315 41st St. W, Bradenton, 941-746-2121.

THINGS TO DO Classic Car Show

Cruise over to Main Street the first Wednesday of each month for the Classics. A celebration of “The Classics Car Show,” bring your car, truck, or anything on wheels. All are welcome to participate for just $10 per vehicle, and there are no restrictions on year, make or model. Food, music, prizes and the thunderous roar of engines are all part of the fun. 8131 Lakewood Main Street Lakewood Ranch, 941-371-1061.

Community Bike Ride

3rd Saturday, each month (October – March), 8 am Join your Lakewood Ranch Ambassador, Greg Spring, for a 10-mile, 1-hour casual bike ride through Lakewood Ranch. Meet at the fountains on Main Street. This is a great way to see the Ranch. Don’t forget to bring your helmet. 8131 Lakewood Main Street Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-6000.

Music on Main

Head to Lakewood Ranch Main Street from 6pm – 9 pm for Music on Main, a free concert series and block party for the public! This event is hosted on the first Friday of each month and will supply lots of family fun. The street is lined with food vendors, beer trucks, and sponsor booths, as well as rides and activities for the kids, presented by Grace Community Church. Proceeds from the event will benefit a local non profit organization each event. Guests are welcome to bring chairs, but please leave coolers at home. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a short leash. Main Street: 8110 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-9243.

March: The Whiskey Blind band will fill the air with party rock and the deejay will keep you dancing with today’s Top 100 hits. The event will benefit SUGAR Volunteers. April: The Daisy Dukes Band will fill the air with good times & hot country jams and the deejay will keep you dancing with today’s Top 100 hits; the event will benefit Manatee Children Services. May: The Midnight Mama band will fill the air with a mix of rock/soul & dance music and the deejay will keep you dancing with today’s Top 100 hits. The event will benefit Selah Freedom. June: The Dr. Dave Band will fill the air with high energy classic rock, country & bluegrass music and the deejay will keep you dancing with today’s Top 100 hits. The event will benefit the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy.315 41st St. W, Bradenton, 941-746-2121.

Sunday Morning Yoga

Join us every Sunday from 10:30am to 11:30am at The Market for complimentary yoga hosted by The Yoga Shack.

The Fish Hole Miniature Golf

The Fish Hole is a miniature golf course with two beautiful locations in Bradenton Beach and Lakewood Ranch. Both courses are unique with a ractions such as misters to keep you cool, a 30,000 gallon pond filled with koi of all sizes and colors, and native Florida plants.Take advantage of party packages, coupons and seasonal promotions. 10725 Rodeo Dr., Lakewood Ranch, 941-306-5891.

The Market at Lakewood Ranch

The Market at Lakewood Ranch will be held at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, in the heart of Lakewood Ranch, across from Main Street. Far from the typical farmers’ market, this is a curated gathering of the best flavors in the region, cooking demonstrations, morning yoga and more. Offering organic produce, meat, poultry, eggs, breads, pasta, juices, and prepared foods from over 40 vendors. Every Sunday from 10am-2pm, November through April. 8330 Lakewood Ranch Blvd, Lakewood Ranch.


Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Since 2005, the Lakewood

Ranch Business Alliance has served the Lakewood Ranch business community as the go-to membership organization for companies to network and gain professional and personal growth. Their tagline, “The Power of Connection,” comes across in everything they do. From connecting you and your business to potential clients, to connecting you with the tools and resources you need to grow your business. Today, the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance works with over 650 member businesses and 2,500 business professionals across a diverse range of industries, across Manatee and Sarasota Counties, and beyond. 8430 Enterprise Circle, #140, Lakewood Ranch., 941-757-1664.

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there’s no figure as continuously associated with Lakewood Ranch as Rex Jensen. He helped shepherd a vast swath of undeveloped (and some believed undevelopable) property into what’s now the second-fastestgrowing community in America. Control of 50 square miles of private property with a coveted ZIP code and a national reputation seems the dream assignment for many a developer, but when Jensen first spoke with owners in the late 1980s, few had any belief in the property’s potential. We spoke with Rex Jensen about the potential he saw then, the evolving vision that led to the ranch as we know it today and a vision for the future that’s at once specific and eternally fluid.

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LIVING LAKEWOOD: When you signed on with

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, what was your initial thought about the ambition of the project? REX JENSEN I had known about this property maybe since 1984 or ’85. Someone put on a panel discussion about the county line area of Sarasota and Manatee counties and what its future would be. I was brought down from Tampa to talk about it as an outsider. I was the one person on the panel that was very high on the area. There’s not a lot of negative on the environment. Visitors come to this area and they depart with a favorable impression. I thought this area had the hallmarks of being able to be something special. Other panelists from the local area said nothing would happen here. So I was the outlier, and I went away not really caring too much one way or the other. But maybe four or five years passed and I got a call from John Clarke, the then president of the company, with Mary Fran Carroll being the CEO. They were seeking someone to help them plan the property and actually begin the transformation. I had my own consulting company, and I liked freelancing. I came down anyway. I said at the end that I really wasn’t that interested in working for anyone, but if they needed a consultant to give me a call. So, we parted company, and on the way back I started kicking myself. This really is a special property and has a lot of potential. So when I got home, I wrote them a seven- or eight-page letter saying I rethought it and here’s what I think we can do together. That was in late 1989 and I came on board in March 1990.

Why did it take five additional years to open Lakewood Ranch? Let’s talk about why the lag. Their origi-

nal approvals in Manatee County were for a thing called Cyprus Banks, which was modeled after Saddlebrook or Innisbrook—destination resorts. John’s feeling was that those projects had gone through two or three owners before they became successful, and we ought to replan the initial approvals. That took a little while. Then how do you finance it? Do we do it ourselves or do we try to sell to a builder or a community developer? We went through a couple years talking to various people in business, and none of them had any faith in this place. So all of those were eventually dead ends. Everybody thought we were insane. We still believed that we should do it. But we were coming out of the Savings and Loan Crisis. A whole industry caved because they were financing real estate projects on a short-term basis when they really should be financed on a long-term basis. The only theoretical choice we had was Community Development


Districts, which were not all that popular in the day. But the few there were weathered the downturn. We settled on that as a means of financing and then filled the staff up with people who had done it before. To what extent were you trying to make sure this community was self-contained and self-sustaining?

We knew that we’d have to get there, but you can’t start there. We envisioned it. We didn’t do Main Street until the early 2000s. We knew Main Street would come, but do it too soon and you hurt yourself and you hurt the people who rent there and fail. A community has to reach a critical mass to be able to do that kind of stuff. But when the community reached a critical mass we decided to help Publix justify its presence here. We said for five years you will not face any direct competition. And the specialty grocery stores, we weren’t mature enough yet for them anyway. Now we are getting started on a second Main Street, so to speak, with Waterside. How much has the vision changed? A lot. We’ve had, for a long time, a vision for where we’re going, but we haven’t unveiled it and we kept it in-house. We’ve painted the broad strokes as they make sense on the canvas. Some of the things that are consistent with the early versions include the general road alignments. But where would you put a Lakewood Ranch Boulevard? There’s only a few places it makes sense. You have Lorraine Road. That’s not going to move much. And of course, State Road 70 hasn’t moved. University Parkway hasn’t moved. Then there’s certain habitat systems. Florida is pretty damn boring if you take all the trees away, and there are certain areas that just make no sense to develop. All that has been consistent from vision to vision. But there’s also the question: What if the vision isn’t very good? We had an early vision for this and we’ve just modified it as we go. If you ask me what it’s going to look like in the end, I don’t know. And I don’t care. It doesn’t have to be my vision that ends this thing. It’s whatever makes sense at the time. Why do you work with so many outside builders? We didn’t initially. The star builders like Lennar and Taylor Morrison didn’t think anything of this property. What that left us with was working with the local builders and doing it in a way that made economic sense to them. At one point, we had upward of 20 or 30 of them. But then what happened? We talked about the Savings and Loan Crisis but then had an even greater chasm to fall into. I call it the Great Dying. It was like a Permian extinction for real estate when so many builders we worked with suddenly didn’t exist anymore. Many of these builders, they can’t buy land anymore, and I sell land. So we had to change our business model. And by the time we were coming out, the Lennars and the Pultes and Taylor Mor-

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LIVING LAKEWOOD rison believed in this property because we had a track record. It’s more a structural change in the real estate market. The national builders have the capital. Do you still maintain relationships with those smaller builders? We’re working with a group called Four

Star, which is trying to fill the gap that was created with the housing downturn. They have a property of about 600 acres under contract with us. Their goal is to do what we used to do, build lots out to a fully improved status and then have smaller builder takedowns. I like that, because it creates a diversified architectural profile for a community. It gets back to certain neighborhoods that are dedicated to certain types of product. We hope to close that. I don’t think we’ll be able to do it this year, but we might in 2021.

We’re pretty good at building sports fields because we’ve done it several times—Polo fields, Lakewood Ranch High fields. Let’s plant some grass and see what happens. And we set up the Premier Sports Campus as a mecca for anything you could play on grass. The first tournament, 20,000 people came in. Burger King ran out of hamburgers. Publix ran out of water. I got this strange call from Subway thanking me. These kinds of things have a positive lifting of the tide effect. Now, we ended up selling the campus to Manatee County. Why? The kinds of tournaments you want to get, the people that promote them run around with a tin cup and go to the areas that give them $5,000 or 10,000 subsidies. Not my business. However, it is the [Tourist Development Council’s] business. I think, frankly, that’s one thing government is doing better than I could. You won’t hear me say that often.

What changes have you seen in consumer demand?

It’s mainly the smart homes—even your coffeepot is connected to the Internet these days—and the continued energy efficiency. Some people have said homes are getting smaller. I don’t see it. Not here. There now is beginning to be more of a market for townhomes and zero-maintenance-type housing. Very few people want to push a lawn mower on Saturday. So that’s becoming more popular than a backyard with a picket fence and a cocker spaniel. But there are still a lot of people who want that too. We’re a big enough place that we can accommodate a wide variety of products. You’ve had some high-end neighborhoods filled with mansions. Why have you since put effort into working-class and mid-market products? We have

so much property. But that kind of stuff always looks good on paper. Yeah, we’re going to sell five billion mansions. But how long does that take, just in geological time? Why do I want to do that? The glaciers will be back and gone again before we do all of that. Over the years you have sometimes announced projects that didn’t come to fruition, be it the Springbok Academy or college campuses. Do you look back at those plans and seek ways to bring them alive? I mean, look at those things. The hockey arena

didn’t happen, so we’re repurposing the property. Just because something doesn’t happen doesn’t mean we’re going to have a crater in the ground forever. Springbok was brought to us by outside folks. Sometimes that works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. On the other hand, the Premier Sports Campus, that was our own idea, one of those things that we thought about when the phone didn’t ring. What’s one thing people do religiously? Follow their kids around to these various athletic tournaments. So we thought, “Gosh, we got extra land here.”

Along those lines, the type of planning done at Lakewood Ranch is something cities have whole staffs doing. No, they have staff dedicated to inter-

fering with it. Cities would never do this. They couldn’t handle this. They would try to kill it before it was born. All of their regulations are set up to stop things like this. If I would have gone to either of the two counties and said I want to create something that in 25 years is going to have 36,000 residents, they would have freaked. And they would have said, “No you’re not.” So what models did you look toward for Lakewood Ranch? We did look at how we ran around the coun-

tryside back in the early days. One of the things that we looked at as a model was Irvine Ranch in Newport Beach, California and The Woodlands in Houston, Texas. We didn’t look at The Villages in Orlando, not because they’re not worthy of emulation, but because they’re mainly a retirement community. We very much admire what they’ve done from a development perspective. But we wanted to model ourselves after more of a mixed-use environment. And we are shifting more in a mixed-use direction. At some point, do you expect parts of Lakewood Ranch to need redevelopment? Do you have a plan for that? I’m sure that will happen. But it’s too new for

that to have occurred. What’s going to happen here 100 years from now? I don’t know. Will it be ripe for that some point? Maybe, but that’s not my problem. If you look at some of the oldest master-planned communities like Tyson’s Corner in Washington, DC, parts of it are starting to get redeveloped now, but again, there are major demographic forces that are leading that. And those changes don’t happen here. Or, maybe they will. LL

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Polo Passion Mallets are being swung and divots, stomped, as the Sarasota Polo Club’s 2020 season breaks new attendance records.

“IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BIGGER,” says Mason Wroe, the Club’s polo director. “We have polo every day of the week but Monday, and on the matches every Sunday, the crowds are really growing. We’ve been having around 3,000 people a Sunday and that is a record. “Founded in 1991 as the first development in Lakewood Ranch, the Club has grown into a massive property with Bermuda playing fields and a full residential polo community. Now there are seven world-class polo fields and 45 private ranches, ranging from five to 40 acres (some of the most coveted property in Lakewood Ranch). To accommodate the crowds and interest, Club organizers are packing the schedule with events. There is even a polo school for students of all ages and abilities who want to learn the craft. “We’re bringing back sunset polo, which is a big hit, and we also have special events like weddings and concerts on the grounds,” says Wroe, who is also a professional polo player (he oversees more than 50 players at the Club’s various levels). “Before the season started, we had the international frisbee championship taking place.” The official polo season is 18 weeks long (from December 15 to April 12). For Sunday matches, the gates open at 10 am and game time kicks off at 1 pm. General admission is $15 per adult and free for children ages 12 and younger. There are approximately 45,000 total spectators each polo season. Attendees savor tailgating, reserved VIP seating, an opening parade, a live national anthem, some half-time entertainment, Clydesdale wagon rides and, of course, divot-stomping—four months of fresh-air family fun. —Abby Weingarten Sarasota Polo Club: 8201 Polo Club Lane, Lakewood Ranch, 941-907-000,

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Farmers Market Mirth The Market at Lakewood Ranch (now in its third season) is growing fast with an array of entertainment, exercise and eats.


YOGA SESSIONS AND YUMMY SNACKS bring thousands of spectators to The Market at Lakewood Ranch each seasonal Sunday, adding a locally-focused vibe to the town. Launched in 2017, the burgeoning farmers market is held from 10 am to 2 pm Sundays (from November to April) at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center across from Main Street. With more than 60 vendors onsite, the selection is diverse, including organic produce, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, breads, pasta, juices and prepared foods. There are even cooking demonstrations, free complementary yoga classes by The Yoga Shack, live music by area bands, and food demos by University of South Florida’s chef Rov Avila. “We are in our third season and attendance is around 2,500 to 3,000 people each week,” says Monaca Onstad, the director of community relations for Lakewood Ranch Communities.“What makes us truly unique is the community vibe. Our shoppers love the bread by Camelot but also enjoy a variety pf veggies and fruits we offer. You can grab a bite to eat (I recommend the rotisserie meat or a made-to-order omelet).” Alma Johnson, the owner of Sarasota Honey, an apiary and retailer selling 100-percent raw ultra-local artisan honey, all-natural soaps and beauty products, is among the vendors who has been with the market since its inception. She has watched the event evolve into a weekly must for families and health-centric customers. “The food at the market is fabulous. They’ve really kicked it up a huge notch. My mouth has dropped in terms of where we were to where we are,” Johnson says. “In the past, it was in the evenings on Wednesdays and harder for people to come out, but a lot of families come out now. The organizers are really connected with the community and have their fingers on the pulse of what people need.” For example, Johnson’s honeybees are located in residential backyards, many of which are near Lakewood Ranch’s market. Customers are actively involved in Johnson’s Host-A-Hive program, helping raise the bees, so the resulting honey product is as local as it gets. “Lakewood Ranchers are very health-conscious, and they know the right questions to ask so I don’t have to spend too much time educating them on the benefits of raw honey and other health products,” Johnson says. “They’re very in-the-know. I think this is the perfect market for them.” —Abby Weingarten The Market at Lakewood Ranch: 8330 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch, 941-556-8300,

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Fun on the Farm Sweetgrass Farms A hydroponic produce farm, Sweetgrass cultivates its crops in towers using ground coconut fiber and essential nutrients. That makes the pesticide-free inventory at the Sarasota farm (often tended to by Vets2Success nonprofit volunteers) extra healthful and delicious. Take a farm tour and check out the juicy U-pick strawberries and tomatoes. Pet the hand-raised Pekin ducklings, baby turkeys, bunnies (Rex and Flemish giant breeds), exotic chicks and tortoise. 8350 Carolina St., Sarasota, 406-570-2701,


Four farms within 30 to 45 minutes of Lakewood Ranch offer family-centric entertainment for day trips. Mixon Fruit Farms Famed for being a longstanding community fruit farm, Mixon is also a wildlife sanctuary with animals, reptiles and rehabilitated birds. Hop on the Orange Blossom Tram through the orange grove, garden oasis, koi pond and butterfly garden, and let the kids romp in the Amazing Play Place (with its giant Jenga game and volleyball area). And, of course, sip some freshly-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices. 2525 27th St. E., Bradenton, 941-748-5829,

WHOLESOME FAMILY FUN is less than an hour away from Lakewood Ranch, with four area farms offering everything from organic produce-picking to petting zoos. Sweetgrass Farms, Mixon Fruit Farms, Hunsader Farms and Blumenberry Farms are among the gems, each with their own seasonal crops and agricultural activities geared toward all age groups. Each locale is within a 30-to-45-minute drive from downtown and, in March, The Market at Lakewood Ranch organizers began hosting field trips to farms and market purveyors. Look for the community calendar at for updates, gather a group, and learn about the benefits of local eating.—Abby Weingarten Blumenberry Farms Need a biweekly box of certified-organic produce? Pick your own freshly-grown crops from this Bradenton farm and assemble a variety (or opt for delivery). Call ahead or head to The Market at Lakewood Ranch on Sundays for farm-visiting details. There are duck and chicken eggs at the site, along with vegetables like kale, cabbage and broccoli or specialty exotic options such as papaya, moringa, and even sugar cane by the pound. 561414-0159,

Hunsader Farms

The annual pumpkin festival may be the bestknown attraction at this farm but the U-pick fields (of strawberries, rhubarb, eggplant and green beans) are equally visit-worthy. There is also a petting zoo, a playground and a picnic area. Stop by the Eat Shack for breakfast, lunch and dinner eats like burgers and Cuban sandwiches) and the market, filled with homemade jams, jellies, honey and daily handpicked vegetables. 5500 C.R. 675, Bradenton, 941-322-2168,

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