Begin of development east of I-75 in Sarasota
East of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County, once home to cows and crops and a human here and there, the sound of hammers and construction workers has become increasingly common.
East of I-75. The border between country and city. Cows and farmland vs. coffee shops and traffic jams.
The residents of this area have fought for decades for “Keep the Country, Country” and have often pointed out the concrete barrier of the interstate as a delimitation point for their lifestyle.
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But with developments like Lakewood Ranch’s Waterside Place, Skye Ranch, and finally Hi Hat Ranch, this urban / rural border has proven to be just as effective as the French Maginot Line in stopping the German advance.
Thousands of homes are planned, new roads will cross former pastures and retail will follow behind the housing developments, turning the rural landscape into suburban areas.
Developers argue that once an area like Sarasota becomes so coveted with its access to world-famous beaches, a quality school system, and desirable cultural amenities like the Sarasota Orchestra, it will be natural.
However, proponents of a more cautious development do not see natural development.
You see rapid growth that will lead to traffic jams, urban sprawl and a reduced quality of life for the people who have lived here for decades.
“An unchecked disaster, a developer’s dream and a public nightmare,” said Dan Lobeck, president of Control Growth Now, describing what happened east of the Autobahn.
Lobeck claims that he is not against the development, but wants it to be administered for the benefit of the district residents.
He said the county’s long-term growth plan had been gutted and largely toothless over the years through repeated changes approved by the Sarasota County Commission.
Sarasota County style Lakewood Ranch
According to Laura Cole, senior vice president of Lakewood Ranch, once built, Waterside Place will be a huge development for the area as both retail and residential needs for the Sarasota area will increase.
The entire Lakewood Ranch is east of I-75, but so far most of that development has been in Manatee County, where “east of the interstate” does not have the same development boundaries as the Sarasota term.
Waterside Place will be the Lakewood Ranch’s first major commercial and residential development in Sarasota County. The infrastructure for the ultimately 120,000 square meters of commercial and retail space has already been largely built.
Cole said much of the demand for Lakewood ranches development is self-generated through careful planning that comes with a master-planned community.
She also notes that by creating a county, Lakewood Ranch is paying for road construction and infrastructure improvements on the 33,000-acre property, and that the property taxes the project generates help pay for the infrastructure that is not on the Plot is located.
She believes the county government model is a less burdensome method of funding infrastructure than other methods.
Taylor Morrison has been developing Cassia at Skye Ranch for about a year and opened Esplande at Skye Ranch near the intersection of Clark Road and Lorraine Road east of I-75 with four show homes and a sales gallery in early August.
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The builder has reported that the demand for the houses has been strong for months, which led to the opening of Esplande, and that demand remains strong after the start of house construction.
The local realtors association has reported a historically low number of properties for sale in the market, causing the average single-family home sales price in Sarasota to surpass the $ 400,000 mark for the first time in history.
Jason Besse, Taylor Morrison’s vice president of operations for the organization’s Sarasota Division, said the area under construction was desirable for homebuyers.
“This area is a beautiful location with quick access to Lakewood Ranch, downtown Sarasota, Bradenton and numerous local attractions including beaches,” he said. “The market is hot to say the least. There are many factors to consider when we talk about the market, but when we look at supply-demand needs and the level of construction activity, it’s incredible. “
Interest in Sarasota real estate remains strong and the area’s housing market is booming as home buyers try to tap into the Florida lifestyle, he said.
“The secret is that Sarasota is the place to live,” said Besse.
Lobeck, president of the Control Growth Now group, points directly to this demand as reasons why the county should curb “uncontrolled growth”.
“We don’t have to drop the reins in development for people to want to move here,” he said. “You want to move to Sarasota.”
He said that if the county took a stronger hand on growth, it would benefit residents in the long run.
Lobeck has a laundry list of things he thinks the County Commission should do, but at the top is “Make growth pay its own way,” something he claims doesn’t happen under the current board of directors.
He also wants environmental properties and existing neighborhoods to be protected, which in his opinion is not good for the district either.
Chris Baylis, a realtor at Michael Saunders & Co. who specializes in real estate east of the Interstate, said it depends on who you ask if developing land east of I-75 is a good thing.
There is no denying it, she said, that the demand for residential property is there. But many of the people she sold in this area moved there because they liked the slower pace, the larger plots, and the rural lifestyle.
But the change is coming, she knows that.
“One day you have cattle, the next day it’s the infrastructure,” she said. “A lot of people think about where they live.”
Baylis said she had heard from some people that it would be better to keep moving from developments in Desoto County.
Becky Ayech, who has lived in Old Myakka in eastern Sarasota County for 42 years, does not believe in escape because “the tail will always follow”.
The 68-year-old moved her husband to Sarasota from an Indiana farm and chose Old Myakka at the end of Fruitville Road because she loves the rural lifestyle.
She has sheep and chickens and grows her own food.
“That’s how I’ve always lived,” she said.
Though a folk way, Ayech attacks any development project east of the interstate with a rural smile and loads of facts, suggesting that she thinks she wins so far as the area she lives in looks similar to what it did more than 40 years ago.
“We win a lot,” she said. “You just don’t know because you can’t see the development.”
But some of its biggest challenges to date – a growth change for the Hi Hat Ranch – will be brought before the district commission in early September, which could give it greater density than ever before.