So, what of this vision? How do you create
a vibrant, business-friendly community that
attracts retirees as quickly and seamlessly
as it attracts young people and families?
Yes, it was rooted in palm tree-lined streets,
expansive parks, and tight-knit neighborhoods. But, it takes a slightly more expansive vision and innovative thought process
to drive this kind of growth—to create whole
towns from scratch with such distinct and
varied neighborhoods in 25 years. How
did Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, LWR’s parent company, seamlessly surpass their goal
of creating a self-sustaining, independent
community/city now recognized as the second largest and fastest-growing planned
community in the country? Multi-generational living is definitely one of the secrets.
There are age-targeted neighborhoods
within Lakewood Ranch, including Del
Webb and soon-to-open Cresswind. And,
the allure for residents of each, says Leslie
Rothschild, realtor and Live Sarasota co-owner, is that while they have easy access
to a larger, multi-generational community,
they also have the luxury of being surrounded by neighbors who desire similar
lifestyles. Rothschild and her husband
chose Del Webb for what she calls its “
“Once you know what it’s like to live in a Del
Webb community, you can’t live anywhere
else. Seriously, it’s heaven,” she says.
At Lakewood Ranch, Rothschild says,
there is a place, a home, an activity, and
an overall feeling of well-being for every
age and stage, and that’s what makes it
People thrive here from every walk of life.
Families grow together in a multi-generational environment which creates a vibrancy
and security that has become foundational
here. Twenty-somethings can buy their first
condo or home here, empty nesters settle
into the home and lifestyle they want, and
seniors can stay close to those they love and
receive support from.
Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder
Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood
Ranch, says that this drives a more innovative approach to development.
“This is a community with multiple dimensions and a good share of that springs from
these multiple generations and their contribution to our lifestyle,” Jensen says.
Another key component of LWR’s success is
that Jensen and his team have always incorporated preserving LWR’s roots into their
mission. Once a ranch, always a ranch, and
while developed, preservation has been
integral to the LWR’s design. In fact, 40
percent of the land is set aside for nature
Rothschild says that there is as much if
not more undeveloped land on LWR’s 50
square miles as developed land. Aside from
miles of bike paths, natural trails, and endless parks, the Ranch is still just that.
“This is still very much a working ranch,”
she notes. “And, we actually have cows out
“This is what’s so attractive about this
place,” Rothschild says. “It’s a part of the
land. Its history is still right here. Preservation is inherent in a place like that, because
residents are reminded every day.”
And, then, there’s business. With thriving
businesses comes growth and an overall
sense of security. And, the fact that LWR is
home to 1500+ successful companies is a
clear sign that ;W; has it all figured out.
But how? One of LWR’s favorite business
models is to “create it and they will come,”
trusting that the right person or company
will appear. The Premier Sports Campus
and the Sarasota Polo Club are both great
examples of this. LWR engineered, designed, and built both, then subsequently
sold each. This method has been key to
LWR job growth and economy building.
And, as Rothschild says, “There’s really no
reason to have to leave Lakewood Ranch.
Everything you love to do, all of the people
you want to be with, whatever you need, it’s
all right here,” she says. “And, that’s a good
“This is a community with
multiple dimensions, and
a good share of that springs
from these multiple generations and their contribution
to our lifestyle,” Jensen says.