Leesburg Commissioners voted Monday night to give initial approval for a new development of The Villages in its city limits, approving Age-Restricted Development (ARD) zoning for 2,631 acres near the Florida Turnpike.
Commissioners also approved a development agreement between the city and The Villages Land Company LLC allowing up to 7,900 dwelling units and 535,000 square feet of retail in what the developer is calling "The Villages of West Lake."
A second affirmative vote is required for the project to move forward, which is scheduled for February. The city created a new zoning designation of ARD to accommodate The Villages, and will rezone the land from Planned Unit Development.
The land lies along the Florida Turnpike and near its intersections with C.R. 470 and S.R. 48. Leesburg commissioners previously approved a sale of 1,938 acres to The Villages in May 2017 that set the stage for this West Lake development.
Since 2016, The Villages has purchased or brought under contract between 8,000 and 10,000 acres that expand the community boundaries southward in Sumter, Lake and Marion counties.
Attorney James Argento, a state prosecutor and chairman of Leesburg's Planning and Zoning Commission, is excited about the development.
“They do good development and we are very impressed with the presentation,” he told GrowthSpotter. “The Villages has a strong, awesome business model.”
It isn’t known yet whether the new Leesburg segment of The Villages will have a town square with commercial development and entertainment, as its earlier phases have, Argento said.
If the development is approved on second reading in February it is not clear when development will begin, said city spokesman Derek Hudson.
The new Villages land also abuts Sumter County, which is in the middle of a swarm of Villages development. And in May of last year, Wildwood approved rezoning of 4,500 acres for The Villages.
More than 1,100 homes and condos were sold in The Villages MSA in 2016, up 34 percent from the year prior, according to Florida REALTORS. That annual mark was likely surpassed for 2017, based on the pace of sales achieved midway through the year.