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October 9, 2015
The Villages and Lake Nona are growth magnets


Lake Nona is a 7,000-acre mixed-use development in Orlando.

Central Florida roundup

The Villages and Lake Nona are growth magnets

Real estate experts point to Lake Nona and The Villages as drivers of good growth.

Jerry Jackson | 8/28/2014

For a look at the kind of developments that are defining residential real estate in Florida, consider two fastgrowing — and very different — communities in central Florida: The Villages, home to more than 100,000 “active adult” retirees and 50,000 golf carts; and Lake Nona, home to an emerging “medical city,” with walkable neighborhoods attracting health care and high-tech workers.

The two communities were a major topic of discussion among professionals at the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 Florida Summit in Lake Buena Vista, who contrasted how features of the two communities had contributed to their growth.

The Villages covers parts of three counties — Sumter, Lake and Marion — about 50 miles northwest of Orlando. The community features wide sidewalks and garages that accommodate golf carts, used for everything from trips to markets and doctors offices to leisurely drives around the neighborhood.

The allure of 7,000-acre Lake Nona, meanwhile, is its “clustering” of health and bio-research facilities, including UCF’s medical school, Nemours Children’s Hospital, the Sanford-Burnham Research Institute and a veterans hospital nearing completion. Housing options range from pricey Executive estates to apartments catering to young workers and families.

Despite their success, Lake Nona and The Villages are unlikely to be duplicated on such large scales, according to the speakers at the ULI meeting. Both have unique origins — The Villages started as a trailer park, and Lake Nona blossomed around a country club. But key aspects can be adopted and adapted elsewhere — such as clustering and opening of neighborhoods to golf carts as environmentally friendly mobility options. 

Residential Trends

  • The “active adult” market is particularly strong in Florida right now. As housing has recovered, Baby Boomers from the north are able to sell their homes and move.
  • A consumer survey by Burns Real Estate shows that 72% of buyers in Florida prefer single-story homes, a trend driven by couples looking to “age in place.” 
  • Buyers looking to live in a subdivision don’t want a big clubhouse but instead prefer fitness centers, a gated entrance, open space with water access and walking trails, tennis courts and petfriendly parks.
  • People continue to want larger homes, with the average home size rising to a record of nearly 2,600 square feet in 2013.
  • Apartment construction is booming. 

Spotlight: Orlando City Soccer

Orlando City Soccer club will start its first season of Major League Soccer play next year with Brazilian superstar Ricardo Kaká on its roster. The signing coup made international headlines in July during Word Cup Soccer finals. Kaká has been playing for Real Madrid in Spain but started his pro career with São Paulo in 2001 when he was only 15. In 2002, he helped Brazil’s national team win the World Cup. He later starred for the pro Italian club AC Milan, where he was a leading scorer and named World Player of the Year in 2007. Kaká had long expressed interest in playing in America and chose the Lions of Orlando in part because he is a close friend of one of the Orlando team’s owners, Brazilian Flavio Augusto da Silva.


  • Lennar appointed Brock Nicholas to division manager of its home-building and community development operations in the Orlando area, which includes 33 communities across Orange, Lake, Seminole, Polk, Osceola and Brevard counties.
  • With central Florida’s commercial real estate market strengthening, JLL hired veteran office broker John Gilbert as managing director in Orlando. Gilbert spent the past 14 years at CBRE, where he served as senior vice president in Orlando.

OSCEOLA COUNTY— The Osceola County Commission agreed to invest $61 million to build a 100,000-sq.-ft. research and incubation center for advanced sensor technology. UCF is partnering with Osceola and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council to operate the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center. The school pledged $10 million from nonstate and non-tuition sources for startup costs and $7 million for faculty. The High Tech Corridor Council will contribute $1 million initially. > Williams Company Southeast broke ground on The Crosslands at Osceola Corporate Center, a $30-million, 427,000-sq.-ft. shopping center. The Crosslands, central Florida’s largest retail center to start in years, is near Sun- Rail commuter train’s planned Osceola Parkway station.

Ambient Technologies in Kissimmee was awarded three contracts in Orange and Lee counties to locate and map utilities critical to water conservation and supply in both counties.

Osceola Regional Medical Center opened Hunter’s Creek ER in south Orlando, HCA’s second freestanding emergency room in central Florida.

TAVARES— Florida Hospital Waterman completed $1.7 million in upgrades to cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs early this year.

THE VILLAGES — Expansion at The Villages Regional Hospital, a $59-million project adding beds, operating rooms and a larger emergency room, is on track, with the new north tower scheduled to be complete early next year.

Tags: Central, Real Estate

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