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The Villages
Monday, May 27, 2024

Tiny Coleman bracing itself for massive development of The Villages

The small city of Coleman, along U.S. 301 south of Wildwood, now has a comprehensive development plan.

Endorsed last week by Sumter County commissioners and last year by the Coleman City Council, the plan guides growth and establishes designated uses for land surrounding the city.

The county has prepared similar plans for other Sumter County cities, including Center Hill and Webster.

A train station in Coleman from years ago.

Coleman, home to the Coleman Federal Prison, was named for Dr. B.F. Coleman, an early settler. The city thrived on the orange industry until a severe freeze of 1894-95 killed the crop and drove many residents away. Those who remained sought revenue from cotton, cattle, sheep and hogs.

Nearby Wildwood has embraced development, doubling its population over the past two decades to about 7,500 in 2016. Development plans could boost the population to 30,000. Wildwood’s city limits, which include portions of The Villages, now extend from Oxford near U.S. 301 to the Village of Fenney near U.S. 301 and Warm Springs Avenue (County Road 468).

Village of Fenney residents frequently complain about hearing PA announcements from the massive Coleman Federal Correctional Complex.

Unlike Wildwood, Coleman has chosen to remain small and its population has risen from less than 700 people in 2000 to 855 in 2016.

The massive Villages of Southern Oaks development will be at Coleman’s doorstep with the recent acquisition by The Villages of a 159-acre tract south of U.S. 301 and Warm Springs Avenue.

Coleman’s comprehensive plan calls for a commercial area near that intersection with urban housing on either side. Large swaths on both sides of Warnell Road are designated for industrial, while rural residential is planned at the city’s west end. The prison is on the southeast side.

At Coleman’s center, U.S. 301 turns from east-west to north-south, a place where a continuous flow of semi-trucks and other traffic move through the community.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to cut that traffic significantly by installing roundabouts on a U.S. 301 bypass. The Coleman bypass, planned roughly from Warm Springs Avenue to County Road 470, is at least several years away.

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