Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Big Boys on the Ranch

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Big Boys on the Ranch

Article excerpt

Three of top six national home builders now selling at Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch has long nurtured local builders, with such companies as Lee Wetherington Homes, Todd Johnston Homes, Anchor Builders and John Cannon Homes enhancing their reputations, and market shares, there over the past decade and a half.

But the landscape is changing. The big boys have moved in. With a groundbreaking last week by Lennar at the 292-home Bridgewater community, Lakewood Ranch now has three of the top 14 national home builders by closings, according to Builder Magazine.

The others: No. 14 Taylor Morrison, going all-out with Esplanade Golf & Country Club and Haddington in Country Club East, and No. 1 D.R. Horton, building on a limited basis in Greenbrook Village.

These builders offer a diverse product line to buyers.

Lennar, No. 3 nationally, will build "Manor" homes from $299,990 and 2,245 square feet with four bedrooms; a "NextGen" model, for families with multiple generations under one roof, from $399,990 for 3,828 square feet with five bedrooms with a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment with kitchen for grandmother; and Estate homes from $369,990 for 2,394 square feet, and other Estate homes up to 3,800 square feet.

Similar houses are being built by Lennar in Heritage Harbour to the north of Lakewood Ranch. "But they have to bring them up to our design guidelines," said Jimmy Stewart, vice president of sales for the 8,800-acre community, "which means additional architectural detail, higher ceilings -- a little more gingerbread, so to speak."

"Lakewood Ranch is a place that we wanted to be for a long time," said Matt Devereaux, Lennar's vice president of sales for Southwest Florida. "It is not just a place to sleep and shower. It is a lifestyle -- schools, shopping, restaurants, entertainment. When we had the opportunity to be in Lakewood Ranch, we wanted to jump all over it. We hope this is just one of many opportunities we'll have here."

Lakewood Ranch's roster of builders includes Anchor Builders, Cardel Homes, Homes by Towne, John Neal Homes, Lennar, No. 64 Neal Communities, Nutter Custom Construction, Todd Johnston Homes, Arthur Rutenberg/Nelson Homes, John Cannon Homes, Lee Wetherington Homes, London Bay Homes, Neal Signature Homes, Taylor Morrison and Westwater Construction, and D. …

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