Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tract Is Rich in Potential

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tract Is Rich in Potential

Article excerpt

Development with the sprawl of a Lakewood Ranch may be in the future for a swath of west Bradenton farmland

MANATEE COUNTY -- A development comparable in size to Lakewood Ranch could eventually span a vast tract of Manatee Fruit Co.'s remaining farmland in west Bradenton.

Lake Flores is described as a potential 1,320-acre community with 6,500 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space.

"It's quite generic," county planner Shelley Hamilton said of the submitted plans. "They'll have to do subsequent plans."

The project would be west of IMG Academy, across El Conquistador Parkway from the partially approved and hotly contested Long Bar Pointe development, and extend as far north as Cortez Road as it flanks 75th Street West.

Plans tentatively call for at least half of the homes being single-family residences and the commercial area off Cortez Road.

The northern sector of the development could include a 19-acre man-made lake.

Overall plans include about 107 acres classified as "parks- mitigation," 13 acres of existing lakes, 15 miles of trails, 76 miles of major roads and 641 acres of neighborhoods.

The build-out could take two decades or more.

Manatee Fruit initially talked of planning for 8,600 homes and 4 million square feet of commercial space for the site but decided to scale that back.

Whiting Preston, president of Manatee Fruit, was away from the office and unavailable for comment Thursday.

"This part of town has never really had anything new, so we're trying to do something different," Preston said in a February interview. "This was an opportunity for something other than a subdivision and a strip mall... I have lived here my entire life. I want to see this done the right way more than anybody."

His company has created a website, BradentonsFuture.com, to start generating public feedback about the project.

On that website, Manatee Fruit provides the following explanation as to why it should develop the farmland:

"It is the only readily vacant land west of 75 that is available for development into a creative community that combines live, work, and play opportunities...

"The size of the property allows for a more comprehensive plan to include great people places, greenways, trails and more. …

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