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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 8 months ago

Game On

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West Villages comes roaring into 2018.
by: Grier Ferguson Staff Writer

Why it matters: Expectations for more development and projects remain high in North Port, a south Sarasota County city that struggled during the downturn.

By at least a couple measures, West Villages is the fourth fastest-selling master-planned community nationwide.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting lists West Villages as No. 4 on its ranking of the top 50 master-planned communities by 2016 new home sales, with 848. RCLCO Real Estate Advisors ranks it as No. 4, too, in its mid-year 2017 update.

On 15,500 acres in south Sarasota County, nestled between the urban cores of North Port and Venice, West Villages also has more going for it than lofty rankings. A big recent hit: the Atlanta Braves are coming to town, right next door.

The team, in a coup heavily promoted by area officials, recently decided to relocate its spring training home from Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to North Port. The Braves broke ground in October on a new campus, a $100 million project. The complex is expected to be ready for spring training 2019, and will also include space for minor league operations.

West Villages President Paul Erhardt says the facility will be a cornerstone of the West Villages development. The complex — along with infrastructure, homes and shopping plazas to be developed — is expected to bring thousands more residents to the area. Erhardt says, “We want it to be a cohesive, desirable place to live.”

Mattamy Homes is the principle owner and developer of West Villages, and it's also one of the community's eight homebuilders. In November, builders in the seven West Villages neighborhoods sold 96 homes, officials say. It was the fifth month in 2017 when builders sold more than 90 homes.

Erhardt, speaking at a North Port real estate summit in November, says the expectation is to ultimately build 25,000 homes in the West Villages, along with commercial and retail spaces. “It's a major investment and bet on the Gulf Coast of Florida,” he says.

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