UPDATED: April 28, 2016 1:23 PM — The Villages plans to launch a new 1,000-acre section in Wildwood in May, barely a year after it started construction on a 780-acre phase in Fruitland Park that had been deemed its final phase.
But the newest Villages community, to be called Village of Fenney after a natural spring on the land, will be different from its forerunners in a couple of ways.
First, it isn't being developed by The Villages. The landowner, Wildwood Springs LLC, traces to Perry Reader of Reader and Partners, who had a hand in the early planning for Baldwin Park and worked for Disney on Celebration.
However, The Villages will build the homes and sell them, said Melanie D. Peavy, development services director for the City of Wildwood.
In addition, the new section isn't contiguous with the rest of the sprawling active-adult community that straddles three counties: Lake, Sumter and Marion. It is about four miles away from Brownwood on S.R. 46.
The Village of Fenney land, which sits just east of the tiny town of Coleman with its northwest corner at the curve of U.S. 301 and its eastern side near the Florida Turnpike, has approvals for 2,600 age-restricted single-family homes and 400 multi-family units, as well as 160,000 square feet of commercial space.
Reader and Partners has owned the Wildwood land for about 10 years, and always envisioned working with The Villages in a parallel fashion, perhaps building a community that would complement The Villages with housing not restricted by age, said Dean Barberree, president of Reader and Partners.
"We have been in discussion with (The Villages) for years, friendly discussions about what they are doing and what we are doing," he told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. At the end of 2015, those discussions progressed to a partnership with Reader and Partners, which will steer the project through the city of Wildwood's planning process.
A previous development plan was approved several years ago, but sat inactive until late last year when Reader and Partners decided to revise it. The new plan is slightly less dense than the earlier proposal.
The project has been described as an active adult master-planned community, with a master amenity to showcase the site's own natural spring, with sprawling oak hammocks, community parks and greenbelts throughout. Two nine-hole executive golf courses are also planned for the property.
Like the rest of The Villages development, Village of Fenney is expected to go from dirt-to-built at lightning speed.
For years, The Villages has been the fastest growing community in the country. At the peak of construction before the recession it was building more than 4,000 homes. The market fall slowed sales but, still, it continued to build thousands of homes a year.
Development of Village of Fenney will be divided into four stages at this point, Peavy said.
"Right now we have three subdivisions within the plan that we are reviewing, as well as a rec center a roadway and a postal center."
Build-out is expected to take five years, Peavy said.
"The speed of the new development has turned my office upside down for sure," Peavy said.