New Wal-Mart, Megan Boone highlight ‘An Evening with the Developer’

A brief appearance by television actress Megan Boone and her baby as well as announcements of an intimate theater at the former Tierra del Sol restaurant, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market across from Colony Plaza and an 18-hole putting golf course in the new Village of Fenney were among the highlights of the annual “Evening with the Developer” event Wednesday night at The Sharon.

During the nearly two-hour program, developer Mark Morse played host in a talk-show format where he interviewed family members about various aspects of Villages progress.

His sister, Jennifer Parr, appeared on stage with her daughter, Megan Boone, star of “The Blacklist” television series, and her baby.

“We actually Uber-ed to the hospital,” Parr said, adding that their husbands were following in a taxi that was in a rear-end accident. The baby was born in New York.

As The Sharon marks its first anniversary, Whitney Morse gave a preview of the theater’s second season as well as offering details about The Studio at Tierra del Sol, which will feature local performances.

Mark Morse, right, shows a photo of the newest member of the family.
Mark Morse, right, shows a photo of the newest member of the family.

At The Sharon, the Villages Philharmonic Orchestra will have 13 performances and singer Johnny Mathis returns in January. Other events include performances of “A Christmas Carol” and “Annie” along with singer Paul Anka next March.

Over the past year, The Sharon hosted 125 performances and 61 were sold out.

Four shows and 25 performances will highlight the first season at The Studio at Tierra del Sol, a 99-seat theater which launches in November with “Next to Normal,” a play about mental illness.

On Wednesday night, Whitney Morse performed a song from the show. Other shows include Noel Coward’s “Private Lives;” “The Last Five Years,” a musical; and “Proof,” which also touches on mental illness.

Whitney Morse said actors who performed with her in Chicago will come to The Villages and participate in the performances.

“It’s going to be very intimate,” she said. “That was my vision to bring a style of theater I have grown to love.”

Megan Boone holds her new baby.
Megan Boone holds her new baby.

A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, which offers mostly groceries, is slated to open in mid-2017 across County Road 466A from Colony Plaza. Also on tap are a Talbot’s store and, at Brownwood, Van Heusen, Warner’s and Izod stores. The Publix at Lake Deaton Plaza along State Road 44 is expected to open in June.

Citizens First Bank, which also will open its latest branch at Lake Deaton Plaza, marks its 25th anniversary on July 1. The bank has grown to $1.6 billion in deposits and 215 employees after starting with two locations, 10 employees and $3 million in deposits.

The developer’s housing revitalization program, replacing older homes on the Historic Side, is continuing and now some residents are requesting that their homes be replaced.

The community also is advancing in technology with a new Villages phone application and three-dimensional videos of homes for sale.

The Villages now has 7.5 million square feet of commercial space and $277 million worth of groceries were sold last year, up 12 percent from a year earlier. Ninety six new and renewal commercial leases were signed last year.

Parr reported that The Villages real estate sold 4,400 new and pre-owned homes last year, which is 70 percent of the homes sold in the community. .

She said the Village of Fenney, several miles down County Road 468 from The Villages, will feature a large nature preserve and an 18-hole putting golf course on an island. Two nine-hole executive golf courses also are planned.

“The Village of Fenney is a beautiful piece of property,” Parr said.