Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Shows off Southwest Development; Business Leaders, Panel Members Lead Event

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Shows off Southwest Development; Business Leaders, Panel Members Lead Event

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

Tour-goers got a look at how the wild, wild Westside is being tamed during a 70-mile trip through the area last week.

As two charter buses drove by Diamond D Boarding Stable on Solomon Road off Normandy Boulevard, participants saw high-end residential lots dotting the once rural landscape. About 90 residents climbed aboard for the annual three-hour tour sponsored by the Southwest Citizens Planning Advisory Committee and Westside Business Leaders Association.

"We're out in the country now, but you can see that even in rural areas, they're building new homes," said Carl Moore Jr., the committee's chairman, as he pointed to the spacious sites.

And there will be a lot more to come, said Tree Kilbourn, neighborhood coordinator for the Southwest district. The Southwest, with 192 square miles, as well as the Northside, have the most available land for development, she said.

Moore, Kilbourn and former City Councilwoman Alberta Hipps narrated the tour, which even went into Clay County to showcase the massive OakLeaf Plantation development. The 6,400-acre planned community eventually will encompass up to 11,000 residential units, an 18-hole golf course, commercial, office and industrial space, schools, churches, parks, a library, a new regional mall and 15 miles of walking and biking paths.

It is being developed by The Hutson Cos. on the Clay-Duval line near Branan Field-Chaffee Road with the first homes being built on the Clay side. When built out, Moore said, OakLeaf will be valued at more than $2 billion.

"This is huge. This is huge," Kilbourn said as the tour passed lot after lot after lot.

The tour also went past 700 homes constructed on former dairyland in the Ortega Park area between Blanding Boulevard and Seaboard Avenue. But vestiges of the rural life remain as Kilbourn pointed out a llama and camel grazing in a field.

The tour proceeded by two libraries under construction -- the new Maxville branch and the West Regional. …

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