Lakewood Ranch and Wellen Park Among Top 100 Planned Communities
Sarasota and its beaches are no strangers to national lists highlighting the relaxed lifestyle. But master-planned communities Lakewood Ranch and Wellen Park were recently honored as top-planned communities by LIVE Ideal magazine.
The winners were named in the publication’s summer issue, “The 100 Best Places to Live in America.”
Every year, LIVE Ideal surveys its readers to determine the most popular destinations. The absence of state taxes, sunny weather, plenty of outdoor activities, and access to Sarasota’s arts scene were some of the things that made Lakewood Ranch and Wellen Park shine.
The main reasons given for living in a planned community were people – a social network and a sense of community. Others were walking, healthy living, proximity to health care, social clubs, well-maintained homes, green spaces, and landscaping. Philanthropy was also important. Readers wanted opportunities to give back and volunteer, be it time, talent or donations.
It’s easy to see how Lakewood Ranch made the cut. It has over 60 clubs, a parks and recreation program, and sports leagues. There are 150 miles of trails and nine community parks, plus walkable downtown areas, including the recently opened Waterside Place. There is also a medical center and philanthropic organizations, including the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.
The community now has over 57,000 residents and is growing rapidly. There were 2,574 new home sales last year, compared to 2,149 in 2020, a 19.8% year-over-year increase and its best sales year on record. In fact, it has been recognized as the nation’s best-selling multi-generational community for the fourth consecutive year by RCLCO, an independent real estate consultancy.
This is not the first mention of Lakewood Ranch by Ideal LIVE. Last year, The Ranch was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Communities. In 2020 it was nominated in the category “Best Health and Fitness Community” for its leisure facilities, and in 2019 it was listed in the category “Best Wellness Community”.
Wellen Park, formerly known as West Villages, was recently ranked the 4th best-selling planned community in the United States for two consecutive years. When completed, downtown Wellen will feature an 80-acre lake, retail stores, waterfront restaurants and rooftop terraces, pedestrian streets, a wading pool, playground and a public gathering place for the town hall which will host live musical and theatrical events. It will also have a grove of hammocks and a permanent food truck area.
Wellen Park is also home to the only Major League Baseball spring training park in the nation to be open year-round. CoolToday Park already hosts public events throughout the year, such as car shows, craft fairs, rummage sales, movie nights, and a farmer’s market.
Home to approximately 8,000 residents, approximately 3,500 newcomers arrive each year and live in three neighborhoods: West Villages, Downtown Wellen and Playmore. At full construction, Wellen Park will have over 60,000 people and 22,000 homes. Wysteria is his last neighborhood addition, with 153 British West Indies and coastal-style villas with lake and nature views.