Lady Lake Mayor Ruth Kussard said she believes proposed luxury garages could be a good neighbor for The Villages.
Scott Miller of Gelcorp Inc. made a pitch for the project Monday night in a special conceptual presentation to the Lady Lake Commission.
The luxury garages would be built on a 26-acre site off County Road 466. It is currently a large wooded area nestled between the The Villages and Paul’s Nursery.
Miller described the luxury garages as “man caves” specifically aimed at the owners of classic cars. The units would be air conditioned, have running water and sewer. They would be specifically designed for classic cars, of which there are many in The Villages.
“These are their babies. Their pride and joy,” Miller said of the owners of the classic cars.
Commissioners were concerned that the garages could be used as a “shop,” where owners would work on their cars, but Miller offered reassurance that isn’t the plan.
“Could they use an occasional wrench to tighten something up? Sure. But let’s say they aren’t going to be using a welder,” he said.
Commissioner Paul Hannan, who dabbles in classic cars, said he believes Miller could easily tap into an existing market base in The Villages.
“You’re right on target when it comes to classic cars. There are a lot of classic cars in The Villages,” he said.
Hannan, who lives on the Historic Side of The Villages, also gently scolded residents of the Village of La Zamora and the Village of Valle Verde who have become spoiled by having the wooded lot in their backyard for so many years.
“Coming from a real estate perspective, you do not buy a home next to an empty lot,” Hannan said.
That got a rise out of Shirley Fernandes, who lives on Costa Mesa Drive near the La Zamora gate.
“I take issue with the bluntness of your statement,” Fernandes said to Hannan.
The mayor chose a smoother approach and pointed out that she had emailed residents of the area prior to Monday night’s meeting. She received back several comments from residents who voiced concern about potential traffic and noise.
“It seems to be the least invasive,” said Kussard.
She said the roughly 60 luxury garages would only add traffic from the owners of the garages. Miller’s plan calls for the existing treeline to remain intact as a buffer between the luxury garages and The Villages.
Miller had flirted with other ideas including apartments and a restaurant, but those are off the table.
By consensus, the commission gave Miller the green light to move ahead with the next steps in the project.