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The Villages

Villager’s $110-million development moving closer to reality in Wildwood

Wildwood commissioners Monday took steps toward approval of a $110-million mixed-use development planned north of County Road 44A and west of Powell Road near Millennium Park.

The massive 36-acre project by Blount Development Group will include non-age-restricted apartments, senior independent living apartments and medical office buildings.

Commissioners voted to transmit the proposed land-use change for review by the state and heard the first reading of an ordinance to change the zoning to central mixed use.

Three hundred and twenty-plus units of Class A non-age restricted apartments with a mix of townhomes, carriage homes and garden style units are planned. A mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units will be available.

The project will come back to the City Commission for final approval next year after state review is completed. Earlier this month, Special Magistrate Grant Watson recommended approval of both the land-use change and rezoning.

The development on land once occupied by a Wildwood ranch will include at least 320 one- to three-bedroom, non-age-restricted apartments, 150 senior independent living apartments and 100,000 square feet of medical office space.

Apartments will include a mix of townhomes, duplexes, carriage homes and garden-style units, said developer Rick Blount, a resident of the Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter.

The Wildwood Community Center is located at Millennium Park.

Blount said he hopes construction of the first phase can begin in late spring or early summer.

Close to the heart of Wildwood, the project has been evaluated for 13 indicators of urban sprawl outlined in Florida statutes, according to an analysis by Roxann Read, assistant director of the city’s development services department.

A traffic analysis found that the development is expected to generate 8,260 daily trips and advises construction of westbound and eastbound turn lanes on CR 44A.

“This is a preferred development style to avoid strip commercial development and encourage compact, energy efficient development,” Read wrote. “The owner is working with the city on a joint storm water and recreation plan that will benefit both the subject property as well as the city’s adjacent Millennium Park.”

Because the site includes wetlands, surface waters and flood zones, the developer will be required to work with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and FEMA to preserve these areas or allow for mitigation.

An environmental survey by Stillwater Environmental found a large portion of the northern half of the site is in flood zones and environmental resource permits may be needed. No protected animal species were found.

Blount, whose past projects include HarborChase assisted living center north on Powell Road, said apartment amenities will include a resort-style pool, fitness center, clubhouse, outdoor grills and walking paths.

Unlike other recent apartment projects, tenants will have easy access to Millennium Park, the Wildwood Community Center and schools. They will be close to Brownwood shopping and restaurants.

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