Wellen Park Living, Spring 2023

Page 32





Prepare all of your senses to enjoy Oak & Stone’s modern twist on the traditional old-fashioned.


37 The South Sarasota County of Habitat for Humanity has partnered with the developers of Wellen Park to create cottages for some very deserving and appreciative young people. 39 Captured moments at Wellen Park. 40 Mattamy Homes presented a significant donation to the American Red Cross and The Florida Disaster Fund to assist communities impacted by Hurricane Ian. 55 The Hub of Heartfelt Connections is represented through the works of two muralists Ivan Roque and Laura Pommier at Downtown Wellen. 61 When separation anxiety strikes, Bayside Pet Resorts exemplify what it means to take care of man’s best friend(s).

62 Family-owned Agility Physical Therapy on preventing injuries before they happen.


In a throughtful partnership between Wellen Park and Habitat for Humanity, local builders are crafting creative tiny homes for the children of Habitat for Humanity families.


9 Jamie Albano of Kind Outfitters shares tips and tricks on enjoying the natural beauty in Wellen Park.

14 Wellen Park division president Rick Severance shares his experience in creating Downtown Wellen.

20 CoolToday Park, home of the Atlanta Braves Spring Training, is interconnected with the Wellen Park Community. 25 Start your day with coffee at Foxtail and end it with a cocktail at Oak & Stone.

30 Brett Phares brings his projection art to Downtown Wellen. 32 Known as the shark tooth capital of the world, Venice Florida is home to Caspersen Beach, one of the best places to hunt for prehistoric treasures and enjoy some fun in the sun. Make sure you take some fun-loving pitstops at Sharky’s On the Pier and Venice Main Creamery.

new friend: Wellen Park Living. You’ll find stories about the people behind fun-loving experiences in the neighborhood and beyond, sips and forkfuls of scrumptious food and crafted beverages and ways to soak in the abundant outdoor adventures just around the corner.

Welcome to your

EXPLORE King of the Outdoors

Jamie Albano shares tips and tricks on enjoying the natural beauty in Wellen Park

“MY WIFE AND THREE CHILDREN WERE ALL BORN IN THIS GREAT STATE OF FLORIDA and outdoor activities provide most if not all of our recreational downtime. From kayaking, to riding bikes on the miles of trails, to playing organized sports year round we just enjoy being active together,” says avid outdoorsman Jamie Albano. “When I had the chance to combine what we love doing as a family with a way to earn an income I jumped at the opportunity.” With its year-round tropical climate and stunning natural scenery, the state of Florida is an ideal destination for fans of outdoor recreation. No one knows that better than Jamie Albano who operates Venice Outdoor Sports with business partner Ryan Lane. Now the duo is bringing their expertise and enthusiasm to a new venture, Kind Vibes Outfitters, in Downtown Wellen Park. For Albano, outdoor recreation has always been a family affair. Now, it’s become something of a family business, too.


chasing the sun over the ripples

The inclusive and energetic atmosphere of Wellen Park felt like the perfect place for Jamie Albano to launch such a communityoriented business.


Kind Vibes Outfitters will rent out a variety of equipment to locals and visitors who are looking to create their own outdoor fun, including pedal bicycles, electric bicycles, kayaks, paddleboards, fishing poles, and electric sailboats. Albano and his team pride themselves on providing new and high-quality rental equipment, but they don’t stop there. Their mission is to share their knowledge and experience with guests in order to give them a one-of-a-kind experience.

While you can book rentals quickly and easily on the Kind Vibes Outfitters website, if you call the shop or visit in person they are happy to provide a more personalized experience. Albano and his team can recommend the best equipment for you and even help you plan your ideal excursion.

“We didn’t want to just be another rental business inside of an outdoor sports store so we came up with Kind Vibes to promote the area and the experiences you can have,” Albano explains.


Jamie Albano, CEO of Kind Vibe Outfitters, will be renting out a variety of watersports gear and tours from Downtown Wellen starting this February 2023.

“I love helping people get outside to experience the trails and waterways we have here.” It should come as no surprise that someone as family-oriented as Jamie Albano also cares a great deal about building a strong feeling of community. Looking forward, Albano plans for Kind Vibes Outfitters to offer group- based activities like paddleboard yoga classes and guided sunset tours led by certified Florida naturalists. To him, the inclusive and energetic atmosphere of Wellen Park felt like the perfect place to launch such a community-oriented local business. Kind Vibes Outfitters’ location in Downtown Wellen Park also offers easy access to the sprawling, scenic Grand Lake which spans eighty acres.

Whether you’re a full-time Wellen Park resident or a short-term visitor, Jamie Albano has plenty of advice to help you make the most of your time outdoors. “Caspersen Beach is a great place to kayak for all ages and skill levels. Sunsets here are good anywhere on the coastline, but it’s one of the best places to watch a sunset.”

Albano also shares that the black fossil sands of Caspersen Beach are a great place to hunt for sharks’ teeth. In fact, that particular pastime is another one of his family’s favorite activities.

Above all, Albano stresses the importance of safety when engaging in recreational activities like kayaking. “Wear sunscreen, wear a hat, drink lots of water, and wear comfortable quick-dry clothing on the water,” he urges. He also recommends packing any additional gear in waterproof dry bags and investing in a clear, waterproof phone pouch so you can take pictures without risking water damage.

In addition to these practical tips, Albano has some wisdom to share that seems self-evident but is surprisingly insightful: slow down. In today’s fast-paced world, we’re always looking ahead toward what’s next. Outdoor recreation gives us the opportunity to be present in the moment and enjoy the journey without worrying about the destination. “Have fun and take your time out there to enjoy the day,” he says. WPL

EXPLORE outdoors


“Wellen” means water and waves in Dutch and German.

Mattamy founder Peter Gilgan gave the team five architectural styles that he loved and they created a cohesive plan within those style for Downtown Wellen.

place Behind the Vision

Wellen Park division president Rick Severance, shares his journey in creating Downtown Wellen.

IMAGINE ONE CENTRAL LOCATION FILLED WITH UNIQUE SHOPPING, exceptional dining, world-class entertainment, and a variety of sports and recreation options. An area where folks can have a drink or a meal while watching their children play safely in a splash pad and natural, organic-inspired playground. A joyful place with indescribable sunsets and calming waters all around. No need to imagine. This all exists in Downtown Wellen Park. “The intent of Downtown Wellen was to create a multigenerational main area for everyone,” says Rick Severance, Wellen Park division president. “A downtown that people could own for themselves.”

No stranger to real estate development, Severance was hired in 2019 to create a vibrant community that would be attractive to both residents and visitors. With over 25 years of experience in the field, including leading the development of master plan communities, he was able to assemble some of the best and brightest architects to engineer, plan and consult on a cohesive downtown area based on five different styles that somehow come together to make one remarkable impression. The first task Severance set out to accomplish with lots of help from Wellen Park’s vice president of marketing Christine Masney, was finding a suitable name for the community. “We did a lot of research and finally narrowed it down to a name that we could own,” he says. “Wellen means water and waves in Dutch and German. We then layered in ‘Park’ and we voted on the names with all the sales teams and all of our builders. It was a clear winner.”

Severance then collaborated with the team and brought in consultants to discuss how much retail, beverage, dining and office space was needed. Mattamy founder Peter Gilgan, gave the team five architectural styles that he loved and they tried to create cohesiveness within those styles. “I couldn’t be prouder of how these architects came to create the physical environment,” says Severance. “It’s absolutely stunning. And unlike some other master plan communities designed by one architect, the combination of several different ideas and styles gives our downtown area more of an organic, authentic and approachable feel, less of a super-planned feel.”



505 Design, creators of the outfitter building, offers a comprehensive set of design services, including architecture design, interior design, project visioning, and more. With studios in Boulder, Charlotte, and San Franscisco, the firm prides itself on crafting the spaces that people spend their days and nights in, their time and money in, their wins and heartbreaking losses in.

Trapolin-Peer out of New Orleans is responsible for the mixed-use building. Founded in 1981, Trapolin-Peer recognizes the inherent value of good design’s impact on communities at all scales. Trapolin-Peer’s architecture is successful because they enter each project with a focus on community impact and go beyond the baseline to do what is right for the neighborhood, space, and environmental experience.

Solis Hall is the creation of Khoury Vogt, a Florida-based firm formed in 2001 in Miami by Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury as a practice in architecture, urban design and town planning, is recognized worldwide for their work. KVA engages projects in a variety of scales, programs and locales.


International api(+) designed the single story mixed retail building. The Tampa firm strives to improve the retail industry by developing innovative environments where communities enjoy shopping, dining and socializing. “When a consumer visits one of our stores, we want to elate them and make them feel understood. We create an intuitive, easy-to-shop layout that provides a well thought out sequence of excitement, contemplation and compelling brand connection.”

While having a variety of shops and dining options was a given in the planning, the one feature that Severance and his team knew must be well-thought-out was the designing of the grand lawn, which turned out to be a dynamic grassy area in the heart of downtown for community festivals, markets, and celebrations. Solis Hall, the waterfront event venue used for private and community events, sits on the grand lawn and has a full-shaded overlay with an elevated stage. “We created a slight pitch to the grand lawn,” says Severance, “so it almost feels amphitheaterish while still having a beautiful view of the water. It’s also very close to the yard, which is where the great concession food containers, splash pad, and playground reside, so everything feels really close and safe. We shifted it to take advantage of sunset views for all of the tenants and we did a shade study to ensure that during the summer, it wasn’t too hot.”

Much of the abundant shade throughout the downtown area comes from 26 big, beautiful heritage oak trees transplanted from Wellen Park’s open land. The chosen trees range from 14 to 93 inches in diameter. While the effort to relocate the mature

trees resulted in an expense of almost $1 million, it was well worth it, according to Masney. “This was the right thing to do both from a conservation point of view as well as creating a sense of place,” she said. “These trees are beautiful and worth saving, plus they allow us to create a truly special environment at the entrance to Downtown Wellen and throughout the community.”

One tree that is close to a century old and more than 95 inches in diameter had a major influence on the plans for Downtown Wellen’s green space. It’s such a focal point that a lot of the buildings, the amphitheater, grand lawn and food truck areas were actually designed around that tree. And since nothing can grow under the shade of it, the team created a decking so that there would be full seating under the canopy, creating a space that is intimate, one with an uninterrupted water view that folks will want to come back to often. “Just as the trees will spread out roots in their new homes, so will the couples and families who choose to call Wellen Park home. Symbolically, the branches represent all of our great residents, neighborhoods, homebuilders and visitors,” shared Severance.


An active and health-minded community, the lawn will be home to group events like yoga and Zumba. In the surrounding areas, there will be bicycles and e-bikes available for rent, as well as kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and canoes to embark from the floating dock and launch area.

“The greatest part about the last 25 years of my career is that I’ve created a tool belt and now, I am able to pull those tools from it,” shares Severance. “When you have this blank canvas, you’re able to make a lot of aha moments along the way.” One such moment would be the playground. Having three daughters of his own, Severance knew he wanted to design a playground for kids that adults would actually enjoy spending time in. Another is the decking around the water that gives the sense of a negative edge pool—he calls it a ‘gift to the water.’ “It’s safe because it has an edge to it

and it lights up at night,” says Severance. “When standing on it, you almost feel like you’re standing on water,”

Open to the public and located on US 41, Downtown Wellen is extremely accessible. Above all, it is a multigenerational area that has something for everyone. “I am always trying to make sure that what we do is family friendly,” says Severance. “You’ve got to create an environment where people will want to come visit. Whether it’s fishing on the lake with Grandpa, having a cup of coffee while you take a stroller walk with other moms, playing on the splash pad that acts as a beautiful fountain when it’s not being used, having a cocktail while listening to a concert, or sitting down to watch a beautiful sunset, we designed this as a place for joy and well-being where people can come together, make new friends and create memories.” WPL


sports Play Ball

CoolToday Park, home of the Atlanta Braves spring training, is interconnected with the Wellen Park community.

“WE’RE A MANUFACTURING COMPANY THAT PRODUCES BASEBALL PLAYERS,” says Mike Dunn, Vice President of the Atlanta Braves Florida Operations, of CoolToday Park and the ensuing 90-acre complex that is home to the Braves come spring training. “Whether it’s our strength and conditioning facilities, our gym, or our academy, everything here is used to develop players to be of Major League caliber. Then we open up the doors and invite everybody to see the product.” Wellen Park’s CoolToday Park is the hive to an abundance of activity year round, not just come springtime. The 6,200 seat stadium, which opened in 2019 and can fit up to 8,000 in a fully-packed house, is becoming more and more entrenched in the Wellen Park community as each day passes. “First and foremost we create entertainment and employment opportunities,” says Dunn. “We employ at our peak over 400 employees and on a daily basis over 150 people, and are an economic driver not just from an employment standpoint but from a trades standpoint as well—we buy goods year round, we’re not just open for spring training, we’re open for 12 months a year. We have baseball but we also have movie nights, our tiki bar, there’s something happening every day to make this a mecca of entertainment for the community.”

SPRING TRAINING AT COOLTODAY PARK Image above courtesy of the Atlanta Braves. POP DAWGS Bringing the fanfare of the ballgame to The Yard at Downtown Wellen.

When Spring Training comes around, however, it’s go-time for Dunn and his team at CoolToday Park. Spring training marks a critical juncture for all Major League ball clubs and the Atlanta Braves are no exception. Prior to a grueling six-month, 162 game regular season the big league club heads down to Wellen Park for six weeks of workouts and exhibition games against other MLB teams in what is known as the Grapefruit League. “At our peak, we’ll have over 300 players on the field,” says Dunn.

For veteran players and incumbent stars, it’s a chance to hone their skills and get their bodies ready for the long season ahead. For minor-league prospects and journey-man players, it’s a chance to prove they belong at the Major League level. For the Atlanta Braves, fresh off a fifth consecutive National League East title, it’s a chance for new beginnings.

With the departure of Dansby Swanson in free agency, Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia will battle it out for the starting shortstop job. Newcomer Sean Murphy looks to impress behind the plate and Eddie Rosario and Jordan Luplow will duke it out for the starting left field position–all within the confines of CoolToday Park. Hosting such a contest, as Dunn puts it, is akin to “having 7,000 people over for a cocktail party at your house,” he says. “We park them, entertain them, feed them, care for them and hope that they have a good time. We provide some entertainment from our in-house promotional teams and create a good day at the ballpark for everybody.” WPL


You don’t catch a ball game strictly for the on-field product. Granted, some may do so – if you’re a scout or GM or member of the press – but for most of us, it’s about more than that. You come for the atmosphere, the sights, the sounds, and yes, the smells wafting up from various concession stands. This spring, Dunn and his crew at Cool Today Park are bringing a taste of baseball to the surrounding Wellen Park community with the new Pop Dawgs container location in The Yard in Downtown Wellen. “Pop Dawgs is part of our external catering and hospitality team,” says Dunn. “It’s an extension of what takes place in CoolToday Park during Spring Training, with our gourmet popcorn and gourmet hotdogs and brings a little bit of the ballpark to the fan outside of it. We’re looking forward to opening and showcasing it to not only all the baseball fans but all the neighbors and friends at Wellen Park.”

Start your morning bright-eyed and bushytailed at this neighborhood barista. WORDS BY KATE WIGHT
sips Mornings at


Foxtail Coffee is a Florida-based company that prides itself on serving a world-class cup of coffee in a cozy and inviting environment. Iain Yeakle, who cofounded Foxtail, is deeply committed to the craft of coffee. For him, the ideal cup of coffee starts with the right ingredients from the right locations. Many of the coffees available at Foxtail are single origin.

“SINGLE-ORIGIN COFFEES ARE FROM ONE REGION. Similarly to wine, the flavor profile changes based on factors like soil, altitude, and climate,” Yeakle explains.

“We enjoy highlighting specific regions that have unique characteristics. Some coffee may be more bright and fruit-forward while others may be bolder with more notes of chocolate or caramel. Sourcing starts with our core ethics of sustainability, fair compensation, and ethical labor laws,” Yeakle continues.

“We source only organic coffee and we compensate farmers properly. The coffee also has to meet our quality standards for what we’re serving to our community.”

But finding the right bean is only the first step. Green coffee beans must be roasted in order to bring out their flavor and aroma, and the roasting technique has a big impact on the finished product.

“Our roasting process is to move quickly through the drying phase without scorching the green coffee until we get to a phase called first crack,” Yeakle says. From there we use more airflow and lower

gas pressure to develop the coffee without burning it. We have a relatively long development time in our roasts compared to our total roast time.”

This meticulous process makes the most out of the carefully-sourced coffee beans at Foxtail. “We’re highlighting the characteristics of the coffee by developing it in a way that keeps the origin-flavor, acidity, and sucrose in the coffee, while adding boldness and body to the coffee too,” Yeakle says. The doppio, or double shot of espresso, is a mainstay of any coffee shop menu. At Foxtail Coffee, the doppio on its own is the perfect showcase for the shop’s carefully-crafted single origin espresso. However, coffee connoisseurs can elevate their experience even further by adding orange bitters or lavender bitters to their doppio. “They’re two bitters that both work great with espresso,” Yeakle explains.

“The orange complements the acidity in the coffee and helps highlight the fruit-forward notes, while the lavender complements the floral notes.” WPL

Coming April 2023 to Downtown Wellen.


waking up to a robust cappuccino




Cocktail enthusiasts will discover that Oak & Stone is a neighborhood destination to cap off their night.






COCKTAIL, it’s time to head over to Oak & Stone. This west-facing, two-story restaurant will feature rooftop dining overlooking the Grand Lake, providing a fantastic place to take in one of Florida’s famous sunsets. It will also serve as a convenient venue to enjoy live music performances on the Great Lawn.

Sean Barber is the Director of Beverage at Oak & Stone. He develops inspired craft cocktails for every Oak & Stone location including the one in Wellen Park.

“I love the nuances of learning about differences in spirits,” Barber says. “I spend a lot of time visiting craft distilleries and breweries to learn what makes them unique, what makes them tick, and the products that they create.”

Barber’s interest in spirits and background in bartending has led him to create a cocktail menu for Oak & Stone that is familiar, yet innovative. He’s a fan of taking classic cocktails that have been around for a hundred years or more and giving them a modern twist. The Smoked Oak Fashioned, his take on a traditional oldfashioned, is a prime example.

Meant to be sipped and savored, the Smoked Oak Fashioned is comprised of Knob Creek bourbon, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters. But what makes this drink truly distinctive is a smoky infusion of orange peel, cherry wood, and sprigs of fresh rosemary. As a bonus, the vibrant garnish of fresh orange and amarena cherry pairs perfectly with a vivid sunset view. WPL

Coming May 2023 to Downtown Wellen.

Oak & Stone takes a classic cocktail and gives it a modern twist. PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN | SRQ MEDIA


of Projections

Brett Phares brings his projection art to Downtown Wellen.

SOMETIMES PAVING THE WAY TOWARD THE FUTURE ENTAILS GOING BACK TO THE PAST. Such is the case at Downtown Wellen, where projection-based art will flow over the walkways, facades, and living areas of the community. “It’s an immersive experience,” says Brett Phares, the founder of Lightstruct, the studio bringing this experience to Downtown Wellen. “There are precedents going back a millennia from cave paintings to cathedrals that deal with projection. What we’re doing here is sort of an inverse of that.”

Projection-based art is the practice of projecting ever-flowing pieces of art onto the facades of buildings, sidewalks, and the surrounding environment of a community. Think of it as an art gallery, except for that the art is not fixated in one place, but rather a part of your immediate surroundings, creating a truly immersive experience that allows you to view your community in a completely different light. Phares, who has a background as an artist and instructor, made his first foray into the medium when he worked with Wellen Park division president Rick Severance on a new living community on Florida’s Panhandle. ‘The buildings were skinned with white stucco—which inherently made for a perfect canvas,” says Phares. One of the reasons that

the art program elicited such a response was its ability to spark a dialogue amongst community members. “It made a huge impression on people —not just in how they saw the community, but by providing an avenue for people to talk to each other,” says Phares. “When you go into a museum or institution, you don’t really think about talking to each other. With this being outdoors and having each projection onto a different residence, makes it similar to a museum, but you end up walking around free to discuss what you’re thinking with people around you.”

In Downtown Wellen, the projectors will be placed semipermanently all over the community —allowing people to be a part of this ever-evolving artistic experience. As a curator, part of what draws Phares to the medium is the ability to experiment projecting onto different angles and facades, each one creating a new piece for the viewer to immerse themselves in. “What’s great with projection is that it’s always changing and fresh instead of a physical sculpture that’s locked in. This is something that happened initially where we’re projecting on buildings but as the environment matures you start projecting on everything: trees, ceilings, sidewalks,” says Phares. “it does become truly immersive and an experience that kids and

grandparents alike love getting into. They all embrace it— it has its own dignity.”

When playing with the different angles and possibilities of the perspectives, Phares can end up with illusions such as Pepper’s Ghost – a 19th-century theater technique that gave the illusion of a person being on stage through the presence of a silhouette. “Sometimes you can get almost a hologram of people inside a window from the different angles of projection. Those are surprises that only happen when you’re able to walk around it like a sculpture in the round. Those surprises are what fuel the creativity in each individual and start affirming their own way to interpret it, reminding themselves of their presence. When kids run into the light, they become silhouettes – just like cavemen did back in their times with projection-based art.” WPL

Come out to experience the projection-based art exhibition launching this spring at Downtown Wellen.




curates the immersive artwork.


brings the evening alive with artful projections.

Phares Solis Hall,



Ask any local shark hunter where to go to find the best prehistoric treasures and you can almost guarantee they’ll send you to Caspersen Beach, one of the top beaches in Sarasota County and just a short drive from Wellen Park.

WHILE VENICE, FLORIDA IS KNOWN as the shark-tooth capital of the world, Caspersen Beach is known as the best place to find them in abundance. In addition to teeth from common ones like the Tiger, Bull and Lemon Sharks, hunters have occasionally spotted some rarities, like giant teeth from Great White and Megalodon Sharks. The

best time to hunt and sift for the millions of black, fossilized teeth is at low tide, in the water or as they wash up onshore. If shark hunting is not your thing, no worries–Caspersen still has plenty to offer. Tucked away in quiet South Venice, the unique beach features amenities such as a pavilion with park and benches, a playground

for the kids, a good amount of parking, picnic tables overlooking the water and boardwalks running along shore. In addition to it being a great place to swim or sun in the crystal clear gulf coast waters, Caspersen features over two miles of scenic, shaded hiking trails with cut-through paths leading back to the waves. WPL

EXPLORE daytrip


CASPERSON BEACH 4100 Harbor Drive, Venice. Park Hours: 6 am to 10 pm, visitsarasota.com/beaches/caspersen-beach. VENICE AVENUE CREAMERY 249 W Venice Ave, Venice, 941-488-0332. SHARKY’S ON THE PIER 1600 Harbor Dr S, Venice. 941-488-1456, sharkysonthepier.com.


If you’re looking for a bite to eat and perhaps a bit of entertainment after your beach day, you might head over to Sharkey’s on the Pier, just about a mile away. Locals and tourists alike frequent the restaurant with outdoor seating for fresh seafood, live music, and outstanding sunsets. And for an after-lunch-ordinner stroll, a visit to downtown Venice is the perfect place to shop and stop for ice cream from the Venice Avenue Creamery, a fan favorite for sure, where of course you’ll want to order a scoop of shark’s teeth ice cream. The handcrafted, original flavor featuring malted vanilla ice cream with mini chocolate chips is sure to grab you.



TOGETHER Cottages For Kids

Creating cottages for some appreciative young people.


THE FOLKS AT THE SOUTH SARASOTA COUNTY CHAPTER OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home, believe affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. Rick Severance, Wellen Park division president, believes in building high-quality homes in multi-generational communities that can withstand the test of time. Together, the teams have joined forces to create Cottages for Kids at Wellen Park, a program providing playhouses for the children of families who have been gifted a home through Habitat for Humanity.

The mission behind the program is to raise awareness for affordable housing and broaden the support to raise new sustainable funding. As for the young recipients of the playhouses, they are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for these playhouses built in their new backyards, as most of them have never had a real house to call home. The idea first came about when Severance reached out to Christina McCauley, CEO and Colleen Donahue, Donor Relations at the South Sarasota County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, to collaborate on a project to build playhouses. After several meetings with staff members from both organizations, a plan was put in place. The lucky recipients of the playhouses will be chosen by lottery and the total number of cottages built depends on how many people participate.

“We emailed our 173 partner families, letting them know about the project and inviting them to submit their names for the drawing,” shares Donahue. Two of the 6’x6’ houses, the ideal size for the smallest of homeowners, have already been built by commercial and residential development partners within Wellen Park. They were first revealed at the Wellen Park holiday party in December and are now on display at the Welcome Center. While the team is still working out the final details, they have asked their builder partners to construct their playhouses throughout the spring season. Once built, the houses can be designed with different styles, paint colors, flower boxes, and any other details that would make them feel like home. After completion, the homes will be on display in the Wellen Park downtown area for a period of time, allowing visitors to view them and vote on them for a minimal donation to Habitat for Humanity. After the viewing process, the playhouses will be turned over to Habitat for Humanity to select the families that will ultimately have these playhouses in their own backyards. “We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Wellen Park,” says Donahue. “They have a charitable heart for the entire community.” WPL


CABERNET AND CANVAS Residents and friends gathered in the Wellen Park Welcome Center in December for a festive holiday Cabernet & Canvas event. With the help of an instructor from the North Port Art Center, the group participated in a step-by-step how-to painting lesson. It was a night to remember for attendees who got into the holiday spirit while having fun and sipping wine.

TOGETHER captured

WINE PAIRING DINNER Wellen Park celebrated the holiday season with a special five-course wine-pairing dinner for the top-selling realtors within the community and the sales agents from various Wellen Park home builders. Good times, good company, great wine and food were had by all. What a great way to celebrate Wellen Park’s top-selling realtors.


Rebuilding Home

Mattamy Homes Teams up with the American Red Cross and Volunteer Florida to Provide Hurricane Relief. BARBIE HEIT

MATTAMY HOMES, THE PARENT COMPANY OF WELLEN PARK, IS DOING THEIR PART TO HELP WITH HURRICANE IAN RELIEF EFFORTS. The home-building company recently presented the American Red Cross and the Florida Disaster Fund with a significant donation of $1,000,000 to assist communities across Florida impacted by the storm. The bulk of the donation ($800,000) went to the Red Cross, while the remaining $200,000 was allocated to the Florida Disaster Fund. “The American Red Cross and Volunteer Florida (for the Florida Disaster Fund) will determine exactly where the funds are best used, as it pertains to hurricane relief e orts. They are the professionals and have the most accurate and updated information on priority areas for assistance,” says Rick Severance, Wellen Park division president.

While there is no one organization that can really capture all the needs that someone would have during a disaster, the Red Cross provides a big piece of the puzzle, whether it’s groceries for the month, a hotel stay, or basic necessities. According to Kristin Burke, chief development o cer for the Central Florida region of the American Red Cross, “Our teams that work directly with folks that have been in our shelters are coordinating what some of those specific needs might be. It’s not life-changing money but it helps people on their road to recovery. The Mattamy donation went to serve specifically our relief e orts for all of the work that we did during Hurricane Ian.” At the peak of the hurricane relief operations, the Red Cross had over 100 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) delivering food and clean-up kits. “It costs us about $25,000

to fully operate one ERV and that is just one example of how donations like the one from Mattamy can be helpful,” she says.

Members of the Mattamy team have all been a ected by the storm in varying degrees, some worse than others, but as a group, they believe the event has brought the team and the community closer together and has made them stronger. For those team members who sustained significant damage to their homes, Mattamy has o ered additional paid time o and interest-free loans to assist with recovery e orts. “We’re so blessed to have a founder of the Mattamy company, Peter Gilgan, who puts value in time, talent and treasure. And for him, he put a portion of his treasure toward an area that needs it the most. But more importantly, that treasure can be compounded by going to a group like


Although the Rivera-Ramón family evacuated before Hurricane Ian hit, the powerful storm badly damaged their mobile home, soaked their belongings from top to bottom and took away most of their sources of income. Sonia Ramón’s food truck was destroyed. Her husband, Juan Rivera, lost most of his landscaping business because many clients’ homes no longer exist. The family is living in their mobile home and repairing it as they’re able. One bedroom has new flooring, sheetrock, fresh paint and furnishings—all donated, Sonia said—and four family members share the room. In the kitchen, new plywood sheaths the floor but it masks holes in the home’s exterior, and flooring still is lacking. Much of the rest of the home is a work in progress, with belongings piled up and repairs in progress. The Red Cross was there to help from the beginning, Sonia said, bringing food when they had absolutely nothing to eat, as well as providing supplies to help with cleanup. Disaster workers Claudia Caballero, Candida Montenegro and Martha Narváez recently visited to check on the family and helped decorate for Christmas while they were there.


the American Red Cross, who can do far more with it than what any one of us could do singularly if somebody handed that check to us,” says Severance. “Beyond our area, we know that so many others throughout the state have been impacted by the storm. We value the Red Cross and what they do most e ectively, which is their ability to strategically place and prioritize funds based on need.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole, the American Red Cross has worked and will continue to work closely with partners to provide emergency shelter, food, water, relief supplies, emotional support and health services to people in need. They rely on the generosity of others to help with their e orts. “The Mattamy donation is supporting families from Collier County up into Fort Myers all the way up and over and around the I-4 corridor over to Daytona, and that is huge. It’s a significant portion of Florida that was a ected by

the hurricanes this season,” says Eric Corliss, chief executive o cer, for the Central Florida and U.S. Virgin Islands regions of the American Red Cross. “There are tens of thousands of people that are better o and that were cared for and didn’t go through the aftermath of being alone because of the generosity of Mattamy.”

“We have donors of every kind, some who will give their last $5.00 for the week, all the way up to donations like the one from Mattamy,” shares Burke. “It takes a collective e ort and Mattamy has certainly been a leader in that charge.” WPL


Donna and Dennis Burns

Hurricane Ian destroyed Donna and Dennis Burns’ home and nearly took their lives. Now, Donna and Dennis are living out of a tent and an RV. They say the Red Cross has helped them immensely, ensuring they could eat and get the supplies they need after losing nearly everything. The Red Cross has been on the ground since late September to o er comfort, assistance and hope to thousands of people like Donna and Dennis.
















One of Lennar’s popular single-family floor plans. Located in the national homebuilder’s new Antigua neighborhood of only 177 homesites with water and preserve views, the Marsala has three bedrooms, three full baths, a den and a two-car garage. The Marsala waits to introduce its grand gathering areas, welcoming guests to an elegant foyer and a long hallway before opening to the spacious great room and kitchen filled with natural sunlight. The great room’s generous size makes entertaining a breeze, easily accommodating a dining area and a large gathering space with ample room for a sofa, loveseat and TV. Sliding glass doors extend living outside to the lanai which has a chic brick paver floor and provides venues for dining and sitting. Chefs appreciate the kitchen’s wide layout and appointments with white Shaker cabinetry, quartz countertops, a corner walk-in pantry and a center island that doubles as a breakfast bar. Lennar’s signature “Everything’s Included” program features upgraded interior and exterior finishes such as stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, designer cabinetry, tile roofs and paver driveways. The Marsala balances its openness with cozy retreats for bedrooms and the den. The owner’s suite has a large bedroom with a king-size bed, two walk-in closets and a spa-inspired private bathroom with a luxe soaking tub, separate shower and dual-sink vanity. The model’s two guestrooms and den are located o the foyer hallway. An en suite bedroom has a private bathroom with a shower. The second guestroom o ers a walk-in closet and is shown as an inviting mother-in-law suite. It shares a full bathroom with the den.

WELLEN PARK *Prices subject to change without notice.
LENNAR HOMES | Sales Information: 11490 Burgundy Lane | Venice, Florida | 1.888.214.1509 | Lennar.com
| 3 Bedrooms | 3 Baths
Den Bath 2 Bath 3 Laundry Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 2-Car Garage Great Room Lanai Owner’s Suite Bath Walk-In Closet Walk-In Closet Kitchen Entry Foyer HVAC VAC o ed r 2-Car ra R t re ’s ite e alk-InClose alk-In a loset Foyer 25' x 9' 24' x 16' 13' x 11' 14' x 15' 11' x 11' 12' x 12' 20' x 20'



2,650 sf | 3 Bedrooms | 3 Baths

Wall-spanning sliding glass doors along the entire back of the Sunset elevate openness and indoor-outdoor living, making the open-concept floor plan a Florida favorite for families and homeowners who love to entertain. The singlestory Sunset has three bedrooms, three baths, a den and a three-car garage. Its 2,650 square feet of air-conditioned living space features tall ceilings in grand main gathering areas. The Sunset’s open floor plan is introduced from the foyer, blending great room, kitchen and dining room, the latter tucked into a sunlit corner. Double French doors open the den – shown in the model as a home o ce – to main gathering areas. Sliding glass in the great room and dining room flow to the covered lanai, a secondary space for outdoor living and dining. The Sunset’s split floor plan creates secluded wings for bedrooms, including the owner’s suite. The suite also has two walk-in closets and a well-appointed bathroom with a linen closet, a long vanity with dual sinks and an oversized shower. One of the secondary bedrooms o ers a walk-in closet with a shared full pool bath.

*Prices subject to change without notice.

LENNAR HOMES Sales Information: 17139 Jadestone Court | Englewood FL 34223 1.888.214.1509 | Lennar.com
Bath 3 Bath 2 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Owner’s Suite Lanai Bath Walk-In Closet Walk-In Closet Kitchen Den Foyer Entry 3-Car Garage Dining Room Great Room Laundry HVAC 11' x 13' 11' x 13' 13' x 19' 34 ' x 10' 13' x 10' 11' x 13' 28' x 21' 20 ' x 23'



Catering to homebuyers from families to those looking for a seasonal home, this three-bedroom, two-bath home o ers 1,937 of air-conditioned living space, a screen-enclosed covered lanai, a flex room and an extended two-car garage for storing keepsakes, bicycles and kayaks. A welcoming front porch is perfect for connecting with neighbors or taking in the beautiful Florida weather. The model showcases the versatility of the award-winning Riviera II fl oor plan, one of the most popular fl oorplans at Renaissance. The home’s open fl oorplan is introduced in the foyer which fl ows to the study and the airy kitchen, dining area and great room. The designer kitchen includes a large walk-in pantry and a spacious island with seating for four that is perfect for families or quick meals. Expansive windows bathe the owner’s bedroom in sunlight. The suite o ers a spacious walk-in closet and a private bathroom with bright-white fi nishes, a vanity o ering two undermounted oval sinks and a glass-enclosed shower. The Riviera II’s guestrooms are located in a private hallway o ering a full bathroom with a dual-sink vanity.


Sales Information:

11720 Renaissance Boulevard | Venice, Florida 941.225.8515 | MattamyHomes.com

*Prices subject to change without notice.

SINGLE FAMILY | FROM $540,990 1.937 sf | 3 Bedrooms | 2 Baths



2,005 sf | 3 Bedrooms | 2 Baths

The Glades is Sunstone’s most popular single-family home. Its open, airy design o ers 2,005 square feet of indoor living space, three bedrooms, two baths, a flex room and outdoor living on the wrap-around front porch and the lanai. Walls of the long foyer flow e ortlessly into the spacious kitchen, great room and dining area – an open concept design reflecting the new direction of modern floor plans and the desires of today’s homebuyers. Oversized sliding glass doors welcome sunlight while visually and physically connecting the great room to an extended covered lanai, elevating the sought-after indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Designed for entertaining, the Glades’ open floor plan enhances interaction between chef and guests relaxing on the great room’s angled sectional. The kitchen’s large island expands workspace and provides a breakfast bar for casual dining. Additional storage is found in the walk-in pantry. The Glades’ thoughtful design positions the owner’s suite in the back of the home for added privacy, while the two guestrooms are near the front.

homes WELLEN PARK *Prices subject to change without notice.
MATTAMY HOMES | Sales Information: 18180 Wellspring Court | Venice, Florida | 941.225.8515 | MattamyHomes.com


Sales Information:

18130 Franklin Park Court | Venice, Florida 941.216.5353 | NealCommunities.com



1,524 sf | 2 Bedrooms | 2 Baths

Tidewater, a two-bedroom, two-bath twin villa model with a den, extended lanai and 1,524 square feet of air-conditioned living space. One of the builder’s most popular villa floor plans, the Tidewater appeals to seasonal residents and active adult buyers looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle in a home that lives large. O ers stainless steel appliances and a center island with a sink and seating for two. Sliding glass doors leading to the private extended lanai. The perfect destination for curling up with a good book – a hammock swing chair. The den, with double glass doors. The suite o ers two closets and a bathroom with dual vanities and a shower. The Tidewater also features a two-car garage and a welcoming front porch.

*Prices subject to change without notice.




2,872 sf | 3 Bedrooms | 3 Baths

The Edgewater model in Gran Place showcases Sam Rodgers Homes’ semi-custom approach to homebuilding, illustrating the most popular features homebuyers want in their new Florida home – an inviting open floor plan, a three-car garage, 90-degree sliding glass doors blurring the boundaries between inside and out, and a destination cabana expanding al fresco living. Spanning 2,872 square feet under air, the model has three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a 1/2 bath in the cabana, bonus room and highlights the Sarasota builder’s high level of luxury details. The fl oor plan elevates entertaining, o ering a formal dining room o the foyer, an elegant open gallery and an e ortless fl ow between the adjoining living room, kitchen and café, which in turn expand to the covered lanai. A walk-in pantry and a sunny café tucked into a corner of sliding glass doors. The Edgewater’s covered lanais create intimate conversation – all overlooking the custom pool featuring built-in bar stools and a floating tile-clad spa with a 360-degree spillover. The cabana, positioned on the other side of the pool, o ers a full outdoor kitchen, a dining area, a pool bath and a living room with a stone-clad gas fireplace and TV. Large windows and a glass door welcome sunlight into the spacious master suite, which opens to the covered lanai and pool. The suite o ers a large walk-in closet and a well-appointed bathroom with a lounge tub, glass-enclosed shower, split vanities and a linen closet. The model’s two guestrooms have walk-in closets. The multipurpose bonus room. The Edgewater fl oor plan provides numerous options for personalization, including a private o ce instead of the formal dining room, an additional bedroom or an in-law suite with a sitting area, morning kitchen and separate bedroom.

homes WELLEN
SAM RODGERS Sales Information: 18075 Home Run Drive | Venice, Florida 602.531.2274 | SamRodgersHomes.com *Prices subject to change without notice. Retreat / Bonus 18’-4” x 16’-3”



Sales Information:

12657 Pinnacle Lane Venice, Florida 34293 941.538.5850




3,395+ sf | 4-6 Bedrooms | 3-4 Baths

Starting at 3,995+ square feet under air, Toll Brothers Willet home design is the largest single-family home in Solstice at Wellen Park. The model illustrates the floor plan’s versatility with opportunities for adding a wet bar, and a fifth and sixth bedroom to create a home o ce or an additional workspace, along with opportunities to personalize the kitchen and primary suite. Toll Brothers o ers a choice of Coastal, Craftsman, and Farmhouse exteriors. In addition, home buyers will experience one-stop shopping with a variety of flooring, lighting, cabinetry, and countertop selections available at Toll Brothers Design Studio. Overlooking the front porch, the flex room in the foyer hallway provides an idyllic location for a home o ce, a study, a den, or a private retreat. The hallway opens to the sweeping main living area featuring an e ortless flow between the expansive great room, kitchen, and casual dining area and continuing outside to the covered lanai with outdoor kitchen, swimming pool and spa. Designed for entertaining on a grand scale, the open-concept floor plan o ers boundless options to elevate entertainment to the next level by extending the lanai and creating a formal dining room. The well-appointed kitchen accommodates the host who loves to cook, o ering ample cabinetry, an extra-large walk-in pantry and additional counterspace on the center island. The island’s breakfast bar accommodates casual dining as does the adjoining dining area, a cozy space within a window. The primary suite features the convenience of a first-floor location and a sizable walk-in closet with an option for a door to the laundry room. Its spa-like bathroom has a luxury shower, linen storage, a vanity with two sinks and an option for a relaxing tub. The floor plan delegates three bedrooms to the second floor, where a spacious loft is easily imagined as a media room, a sitting room, a playroom or a homework destination.

*Prices subject to change without notice.
LOFT 21'8"X18'7 9'8"X6 COVERED LANAI 23'4"X10' REF SPACE DW WH UP UP STEPS FROM HOME TO GARAGE/ PORCH/ PATIO MAY VARY DUE TO SITE CONDITIONS CASUAL DINING 11'X10'6" GREAT ROOM 29'X21'8" 10' COFFERED CEILING PRIMARY BEDROOM SUITE 18'2"X14'1" 10 COFFERED CEILING PRIMARY BATH WALK-IN CLOSET 14'1"X8'5 3-CAR GARAGE 28'8"X20' PORCH OFFICE 13'8"X12'8 KITCHEN 14'9"X12'6" LINEN SHOWER LINEN SLOPED CEILING OPTIONAL DOOR OPTIONAL DROP ZONE W/D SPACE OPT CABS/ SINK FOYER LAUNDRY WALK-IN PANTRY MINI REF WET BAR PWDR ROOM 8' CEILING EVERYDAY ENTRY WILLET-CST) FI RS T F LOOR 9'4" CEILING HEIGHT Square Footage First Floor 2,114 sf Second Floor 1,402 sf Total Air Conditioned Living Area 3,516 sf Covered Lanai 237 sf Porch 48 sf Garage 661 sf TOTAL 4,462 sf plans are for representational purposes only and may not reflect the exact features or dimensions of your home. All dimensions are subject to field variations. Some n may not be offered in your community and may vary by elevation selected. All options to be included in your home must be specified in an Exhibit B to the Agreement and designs are copyrighted. All rights reserved and strictly enforced. This is not an offering where prohibited by law. Please see our sales consultant for details. BEDROOM 2 12'6"X11'8" CLOSET BEDROOM 3 12'X11'1" BEDROOM 4 14'1"X11'1" BATH LOFT 21'8"X18'7" BATH CLOSET CLOSET LINEN OPTIONAL DRY BAR DN MECHANICAL 9'8"X6' Square Footage First Floor 2,114 sf Second Floor 1,402 sf Total Air Conditioned Living Area 3,516 sf Covered Lanai 237 sf Porch 48 sf Garage 661 sf TOTAL 4,462 sf First Floor Second Floor




2,698 sf | 3 Bedrooms | 3 Baths

The Captiva is a single family home with a three-car garage. Housing a spacious great room with an open floor plan, Captiva is designed for entertaining. Families will have access to a walk-in pantry, stainlesssteel appliances, and an island in the kitchen perfect for hosting their next event. Perfect for soaking in the beautiful Florida sun, the Captiva o ers a covered lanai with an option to add a covered extension and an outdoor kitchen wall adjacent to the beautiful pool and spa. After a long day of hosting, homeowners may retreat back to the spacious master suite. This suite o ers an optional co ered ceiling, two walk-in closets, and a master bath that includes two sink vanities, a garden tub, shower and water closet. The Captiva’s guest suite with a private bath provides the perfect amount of privacy for family, friends and guests. The surrounding community o ers amenities such as tennis, volleyball, basketball, trails, a playground, park, and a clubhouse with a pool.

*Prices subject to change without notice.

NEAL COMMUNITIES Sales Information: 21209 Wacissa Drive | Venice, Florida 941.216.5353 | NealCommunities.com

The Sanibel highlights popular features such as a threecar garage, a transformational den, and an enclosed outdoor living area with a kitchen, pool and spa. At its heart, the Sanibel hosts a graciously-sized open living area with access to an island kitchen, family room, and views of the separate dining room. The kitchen o ers stainless-steel appliances, a walk-in pantry, and a breakfast nook that is perfect for enjoying your morning co ee. Spanning one-side of the house, the master suite includes a large bedroom with co ered ceilings, two walk-in closets, two sink vanities, an oval freestanding tub, walk-in shower, and a private water closet. The master suite also allows for an option to include a door directly to the lanai. The Sanibel, in addition to the master suite, includes two additional bedrooms and a den. In lieu of the den, homeowners may choose to have a fourth bedroom or a club room. Amenities that can be found nearby include a golf course, tennis court, and clubhouse.

FAMILY | FROM $729,990
sf | 3 Bedrooms | 3 Baths
Golf View Drive | Englewood, Florida
| NealCommunities.com
SANIBEL BOCA ROYALE *Prices subject to change without notice. NEAL

A new floor plan, the Sea Spray II highlights sought-after features, including a three-car garage; the popular open concept melding great room, dining area and kitchen; and pocketing sliding glass doors for expanded indoor-outdoor living. Designed with a family in mind, the model’s large laundry room has a double refrigerator and extra cabinetry and demonstrates the plan’s flexibility by creating a home o ce in the fourth bedroom and an outdoor kitchen with a built-in stainless-steel grill and sink. Kitchen’s freestanding island which features a large, cantilevered quartz countertop for expanded workspace, in-room dining, a sink, and a dishwasher. Stylish cabinetry incorporates wall ovens and a walk-in pantry provides extra storage. The cooktop has a stainless-steel hood and subway tiled backsplash. It o ers two walk-in closets and a spacious bathroom shown with an extended glass-enclosed shower and dual showerheads. The versatile Sea Spray 2 floor plan o ers numerous options for buyers to personalize their home, including an extended master suite with an inviting sitting area; the convenience of a pool bath, a den or home o ce in place of a fourth bedroom; and the outdoor kitchen as shown in the model.

homes WELLEN
SINGLE-FAMILY | FROM $629,990 2,611 sf | 4 Bedrooms | 3 Baths NEAL COMMUNITIES | Sales Information: 12581 Meribel Street | Venice, Florida | 941.216.5353 | NealCommunities.com
*Prices subject to change without notice.



Wellen Park’s St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon and 5K

Sunday March 19 Come for the race, stay for the fun! Introducing Wellen Park’s Inaugural Half Marathon and 2nd Annual 5K, starting and finishing in new Downtown Wellen. Wellen Park’s great outdoors is the backdrop for this world-class event, where you’ll run throughout our nature-filled community of pathways, wildlife habitats, lakes, and oak hammocks. Each runner concludes his or her journey along one of the most beautiful lakefront finishes in Southwest Florida road racing.

MONTHLY Walking Group Meet-Up

First Saturday What better way to enjoy our beautiful community, stay in shape, and meet like-minded friends than participating in a walking group?

On the first Saturday of each month we invite residents to meet at 9:00am at Kind Vibes Outfitter to participate in a walking group. A map of our various pathways will be available; it’s up to you how far you want to walk! Whether you are a “stroller” or a “power walker,” there are sure to be others in the group who match your pace.

Cycling Group Meet Up

Second Saturday Wellen Park makes it easy to feel good – cultivating physical and emotional well-being for all! On the second Saturday of each month, we invite residents to meet at 9AM at Kind Vibes Outfitter to participate in a cycling group meet-up. A map of our various trails and pathways will be available; it’s up to you how far you want to cycle.

WEEKLY Zumba on the Lawn

Every Monday The Be Well Fitness Series brings you Zumba on The Great Lawn in Downtown Wellen every Monday at 9 am Join us in Downtown Wellen Park for a ‘fabulous and fun’ Zumba class. Meet on the Great Lawn at 9 am, every Monday. This will be an outdoor class. All ability levels are welcome. RSVP to reserve your spot! Please note all participants are required to read and accept the fitness waiver, which is available when you reserve your spot.

Wellen Wednesday’s –Cornhole & Live Music

Every Wednesday Join us for Wellen Wednesday’s every Wednesday night at 6 pm in Downtown Wellen for cornhole and live music! Play a game or two with your fellow neighbors and enjoy a preview of our new downtown.

Friday Night Live Concert

Series Every Friday Join us in Downtown Wellen every Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. for our Friday Night Live Concert Series! Enjoy an evening at The Great Lawn featuring live music and more for the perfect way to wind down the week and head into the weekend!

Yoga on the Lawn Every

Saturday The Be Well Fitness Series brings you Yoga on The Great Lawn in Downtown Wellen every Saturday at 9 am – 10 am. Please bring a mat and a towel. This will be an outdoor class. All ability levels are welcome. RSVP to reserve your spot! Please note all participants are required to read and accept the fitness waiver, which is available when you reserve your spot.

Stars & Screens Movie

Nights Every Saturday Join us on the Great Lawn every Saturday night for outdoor movie night! Showtimes begin at approximately 7p.m. Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please bring a blanket and/or lawn chairs.

For more details on these and other Wellen Park events, visit:



Large-scale murals planned to represent the Hub of Heartfelt Connections.

murals Joy ThroughArt



“MURALS ARE THE FIRST IMPRESSION the public has of a community,” says muralist Ivan Roque. “Someone who’s not into art, who won’t walk into a gallery, can look at a mural and think about art in a space that’s not intimidating. It’s art for the people.” Roque is one of two local artists who has been given a unique opportunity to show off his “art for the people.” Roque and Laura Pommier are Florida muralists chosen from 23 artist submissions to the Downtown Wellen Mural Project, a regional contest created by Wellen Park and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. The portfolios of the chosen artists share a passion for the people, plants and natural environment of their home state. The murals will capture the vibrant spirit of the community and the high-energy atmosphere of downtown, transforming blank building walls into permanent public art displays along the main Wellen Park Boulevard entrance and facing The Yard food park and entertainment epicenter. They will be painted on-site early this Spring— the artists will be on hand to complete the finishing touches and talk to spectators during grand opening celebrations in April. Painted on buildings and structures, the murals are meant to connect people to art while echoing the intentions of Wellen Park as a place for heartfelt connections and a scene for vibrant living. They will also serve as a terrific backdrop for “I was here” social media photos.Wellen Park developers look forward to the community’s response to the finished murals. Their hope is that the murals will reflect the essence of Wellen Park as a community and speak to Downtown Wellen as a space to gather, socialize, connect with others and enjoy being outside in nature. WPL




Ivan Roque, has been creating art since he was a little boy. As a high-school student, he remembers drawing non-stop and even skipping core classes to visit the art classroom. Originally from Miami, he has painted his way across 13 states and four countries. This will be his first mural on Florida’s Gulf coast. “I am first-generation Cuban and in my family, there are no artists. Everyone goes into a trade, like mechanics or air conditioning work,” he says. “It was a scary jump for me to go to art school because artists don’t make any money. But my mom, who is a postal worker, said ‘I want you to wake up every morning being excited for what you do and feeling you have a purpose’ so I decided to take this route.” Starting off as a graffiti artist painting on the streets, Roque practiced his murals on abandoned buildings in the Wynwood area of Miami, which at the time, was very industrial and poverty-stricken. In 2011, he was commissioned to work as an assistant on a mural for another artist and from there, his interest in mural painting grew. The Wynwood area now has one of the highest concentrations of murals and street art in the country and Roque thinks it’s “pretty cool” that he watched the impoverished area grow into one of the most sought-after communities in Miami. Although he did not complete art school, he did ultimately receive his college degree from Florida International University. “Art was never far away from me, and becoming an artist was always my “Plan A,” he says. “There was never a Plan B”. The mural Roque is painting for Wellen Park is meant to cater to all ages, all groups and provide a sense of community. The piece will have two great blue herons, zebra butterflies and a variety of flowers and vines with different gradients and vibrant colors. “My hope is that when people stop to look at my mural, they’ll be inspired. I want it to create great pride for the community,” Roque says. “This art belongs to the people that live in the area, and no matter where we’re from, we are all Floridians and this painting is meant to show unity as a state. It is a massive honor for me to create this piece of art.”



Locals are likely to recognize Pommier’s work from her mural, “Blooms” which is painted on the Wellen Park Welcome Center. The Port Charlotte artist enjoys interacting with visitors and residents while painting on-site. Sketching since the age of four, Pommier says that art is just something that has always been in her life. Growing up in Kentucky, she remembers taking college art classes while in high school and life drawing classes at the Louisville School of Art where she actually worked with a nude model (with her parent’s permission, of course). She loved every minute of it and went on to get a master’s degree in studio art. It wasn’t until 2017 when she moved to Florida that she became a muralist. A teacher at the North Port Art Center, Pommier was discovered as a potential mural artist for Downtown Wellen Park. Pommier’s mural will focus on community. “Wellen Park is a heartfelt community with people caring for the environment and their neighbors,” she says. “Rather than just bulldozing everything down, they transplanted a lot of live oak trees and they commissioned me to paint a mural to focus on those trees.” Her finished piece will be three-dimensional and interactive. There will be a swing hanging from one of the trees so people can stand in front of it, scoot down, and look like they’re actually sitting on the swing. “It is very fantasy-like and reminds me of The Secret Garden, only with a tropical spin,” she adds. While Pommier’s ultimate goal is to have people actually stop and look at her work, she hopes the mural will be uplifting and inspirational and maybe something that folks will want to return to with friends. “Florida is quickly putting itself on the map for being the perfect place for public art so it’s super exciting to be chosen for this project,” she says. “Just to be included, when they could’ve chosen any other artist, is quite an honor.”


Pets Care

Advice on managing separation anxiety from Elizabeth Shore of Bayside Pet

BAYSIDE PET RESORTS IS THE BRAINCHILD of Mr. and Mrs. Huff, two individuals who will never take the back seat when it comes to pet care. Originally operating in the nursing care field, the two decided to create a space where furry friends could receive the same treatment as people. Tyler Smith, VP of Development for Bayside Pet Resorts, explained “The business started over 10 years ago when the Huffs discovered a real need for upscale boarding facilities. They were searching for a facility where they would be comfortable boarding their furry child. From their search, Bayside was born.” The first of three–and soon, four–locations in Sarasota’s locale can be found right across from SRQ Airport. Bayside Pet Resorts offer 5-star boarding, daycare, grooming and training services, and their boarding isn’t just for dogs. “We not only offer canine suites, we also have condos and penthouses for our feline guests,” shares Angela Pantazis, VP of Operations. “Our premium suites include 24-hour webcams. We also have the occasional pot-bellied pig, bunnies, bearded dragons, and other critters that stay with us while mom and dad are away.” Bayside Pet Resorts’ Grand Opening event for its Wellen Park location is expected to be held later this year. If your pet is in the market for indoor/outdoor daycare or play areas, a filtered saltwater pool, a feline penthouse, a good bath, or training of any sort, Bayside Pet Resorts are more than happy to accommodate their needs. Trainer Elizabeth Shore has been working with animals for almost 20 years and has been training professionally for almost 17 years. She has a BA in Psychology from Coastal Carolina University and is certified in Applied Animal Behavior through the University of Washington. She is the Behavior Specialist for Bayside Pet Resorts at the Sarasota location. WPL


HOW DOES THE BAYSIDE PET RESORT TEAM WORK TO COMBAT SEPARATION ANXIETY IN PETS? The Bayside team keeps a close eye on the animals we know exhibit signs of separation anxiety. If we see them start to stress, we will make sure to give them more frequent attention and activities. The staff will also give anxiety medications in accordance with owner and doctor recommendations if the anxiety is bad enough. In the circumstance that a repeat client schedules a boarding stay for a dog we know has a lot of anxiety, we will try to advise the owners to book a suite in a quieter area to help reduce the stress. Sadly, there is no quick fix for separation anxiety. It is an issue that must be monitored for the safety of the animal and worked on over time. I would say any prep should start at home where the animal feels safe. Making sure the animal is comfortable being crated and left alone for periods of time is the first step. If they are fine at home, then the next step would be to bring the animal at least a few times for day lodging sessions to allow them to get used to the lodging environment and staff. We also recommend owners bring objects, such as t-shirts and toys, to help comfort the animal.



ARE MORE PRONE TO SEPARATION ANXIETY? As far as certain cat or dog breeds being more prone to separation anxiety, the short and very generalized answer is yes. Overall dogs tend to be more prone to exhibit signs of anxiety than cats, and there are some dog breeds that are more prone than others. However, whether an individual will become anxious due to a separation from the family is dependent upon that individual’s background and life experiences.



IS THE MOST FULFILLING PART OF YOUR JOB AT BAYSIDE PET RESORTS? It comes in stages. The first is when I’m working with a dog, and I see them make a breakthrough in understanding and confidence in what we are working on. The next stage is when I see the same breakthrough in the owners. The final stage is when the owners come to see me later and tell me how much better things are at home, because that is the goal of my job.

TOGETHER friends

Family-owned Agility Physical Therapy

on preventing injuries before they happen.

mindbody Striking the RightBalance

trainers have worked to establish injury prevention programs in each school to better protect and support student-athletes. “Many of our clinicians have a history with the family here. Many of us were athletes at Venice High School and did internships or volunteer hours,” Ellis shares. “Connections were built at a young age and as soon as we graduated with our degrees in Physical Therapy our first stop was at Agility Physical Therapy to join the family. ”

Clinicians are well-versed in a variety of scientifically-supported treatment modalities which allows them to create individualized treatment plans for an array of conditions, including joint and muscle pain, dizziness, vertigo, gait and balance disorders. One of the best ways people can avoid injuries before they happen is to improve their balance.

“MY INTEREST IN PHYSICAL THERAPY PEAKED when I played volleyball at the University of West Florida where I sustained an injury that required surgery and physical therapy to return to sport,” says Autumn Ellis. “That set off my desire to have the opportunity to help others return to normal functional or recreational activities, no matter their age.” Ellis, who received a doctorate in physical therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University, will be the Clinic Director at the new Wellen Park branch of Agility Physical Therapy. Founded by Alan and Alicia Dalton, this family-owned business has been improving lives in Venice for over a decade. Now, the close-knit team behind the business is excited to bring their uniquely warm and welcoming approach to a third location in Downtown Wellen Park.

Like many of her coworkers, Ellis was drawn to the spirit of community outreach that is rooted in the culture at her workplace. The business provides certified athletic trainers to nearly a dozen public high schools in the Sarasota County school district. In addition to providing emergency care, these

“Balance is incredibly important as we age because it is necessary to prevent falls,” Ellis says. “Falls are the number one cause of death from injury in the US and also cause millions of fractures and injuries each year. As we age, the risk of injury from a fall increases significantly and our healing properties are slower and not as efficient.”

Ellis suggests that people who are concerned about potential balance issues should evaluate themselves at home. “Do a self-assessment of your own comfort level with unsteady surfaces by walking on sand or grass and going up and down steps. If you are not confident and require assistance when negotiating these surfaces, it may be time to address some balance issues,” she advises.

While you can do some simple exercises at home to improve your balance, Ellis recommends starting out by getting a little professional guidance. “There are many different balance classes in the community that can be taken to help improve balance,” she says. “Consider looking in your area for a balance class or silver sneakers class. If you lack the confidence in your balance to join a course in the community, come see us at Agility to get an assessment and learn exercises tailored for your specific balance needs.” WPL

Coming June 2023 to Downtown Wellen.

parting shot

A sunset moment at the new children’s playground in Downtown Wellen.
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.