By JAMES A. JONES JR.
LAKEWOOD RANCH — Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is planning something new for its most upscale community, The Lake Club.
A new section of The Lake Club will be called the Vineyards with houses in the 2,400- to 3,200-square-foot range starting in the mid-$700,000’s, said Milt Flinn, president of LWR Communities LLC. The Lake Club, near the northeast corner of University Parkway and Lorraine Road, was introduced as a gated community of million dollar homes in 2007 as the real estate market started into a downturn.
Two years ago, the first resident moved into The Lake Club, a 4,600-square-foot home valued at $2.1 million.
Today, The Lake Club has about 50 homes, some completed and some under construction, Flinn said.
There are 11 homes under contract or reservation already this year, compared to eight sold in all of 2009, he said.
“We had a real strong second half of 2009 and are doing much better than that this year. We are very encouraged with the rest of the year and next year,” Flinn said.
Five builders have committed to building homes in the Vineyards, where the architecture will be Tuscan, Italian and Mediterranean. Construction is expected to start in 60 to 90 days.
One of those builders, John Cannon, who builds home from Hillsborough County south to Punta Gorda, but whose main focus is Lakewood Ranch, said his company is designing its model now.
“The Lake Club is a great concept. It will be one of the truly special neighborhoods when it all gets going,” Cannon said. “The houses that are built there are beautiful.”
Buyers will benefit from lower costs brought on by the economic downturn, and also from the new technology, including impact resistant construction, more efficient air-conditioning and new types of plumbing, Cannon said.
“We’re seeing a lot of activity,” he said.
In the Vineyards, builders will be able to replicate their models within certain guidelines, unlike the rest of The Lake Club, where each home is custom built and unique, Flinn said.
“We haven’t released lots in the Vineyards yet, but have had a lot of interest so far,” Flinn said.
Across all of Lakewood Ranch, there are 80 homes now under construction, “which is pretty remarkable,” Flinn said.
Homes are being built in the Country Club, Country Club East and in Greenbrook. In addition, Pat Neal has about 10 models under construction in his Central Park development. Several Lakewood Ranch neighborhoods are now built out, including Summerfield, Riverwalk and Edgewater.
Also completed are the Watercrest, Lake Vista, Moorings and Lofts on Main condominium communities. The Miramar condo complex is still under construction.