Wildwood’s population reached nearly 21,000 residents earlier this year, according to an estimate from the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
As of April 1, the city had 20,909 residents, adding 5,179 permanent residents over the prior year.
Commissioners continued Wildwood’s rapid development pace Monday night, approving zoning for two large projects along U.S. 301 and plats for a half dozen Villages of Southern Oaks neighborhoods.
The latest population estimate represents an increase of nearly 200 percent since 2018, when the city’s population was estimated at 7,024. Wildwood now has surpassed Lady Lake and Fruitland Park and is gaining on Leesburg.
Mayor Ed Wolf said the city added more than 270 homes a month over the past year.
“They keep sending them out of those northern states,” he said. “They’re going to keep coming.”
Commissioner Joe Elliott said a larger population means more responsibility.
“There’s more of a challenge for us to move forward,” he said.
Keeping up the expansion pace, commissioners approved rezoning for two large developments west of U.S. 301.
The Oxford BFR (Build for Rental) project, adjacent to Oxford Oaks south of County Road 466, will include 154 single-family attached and detached rental homes designed to provide work force housing.
Speaking at the meeting remotely through the internet, the Rev. James Rockey, pastor of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, said the city should add a turn lane on U.S. 301 to ease traffic, make sure there is an effective buffer for existing homes and try to preserve large oak trees.
Rezoning also was approved for the massive 387-acre Twisted Oaks Pointe mixed-use development south of County Road 462 West near Wildwood Police Headquarters. The project is expected to include 900 single-family homes, 675 apartments, 22,000 square feet of commercial space and 40,000 square feet of office space and medical facilities.
Commissioners endorsed plats for about 450 homes in a half dozen Southern Oaks neighborhoods. Five of the neighborhoods are north of Marsh Bend Trail and south of the Florida Turnpike. The other is north of the turnpike