Homes Set to Sprout Off New Livingston Road

Looking southwest, the aerial photo shows the 40-acre lake in the northeast sector of Vasari Country Club. The cleared area southwest of the lake will contain the sales center and models. That area is off the unfinished portion of Livingston Road that goes to Bonita Beach Road. The lakes of Mediterra can be seen southwest of the Vasari parcel on the west side of Livingston Road. Courtesy/Vasari Country Club

Some projects are already under way, including Mediterra, a golf course community of 950 homes that straddles the Lee/Collier county line. Carlton Lakes, an 800-home development just north of the corner of Immokalee and Livingston roads, is approaching build-out as the new road nears completion.

When the entire road is finished in 2004, Livingston Road will go from Radio Road in East Naples to Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs. Although the 12-mile, north-south connector is far from complete, it has been an incentive to developers and a selling point for buyers in the communities that will have access to it.

“In real estate, location, location is everything,” said Lee Wilson, sales manager for N.T.C. Development, the developer of Carlton Lakes. “When you have easy access to other areas it just helps your community.”

In Carlton Lakes there are 230 homes still to be built. But build-out is expected in less than two years, Wilson said.

“Unfortunately we will be finished before the road is open,” he said. “We have only about 18 months to sell out here.”

The late developer Gerald V. Livingston, for whom the road is named, would smile at Wilson’s words. When he first purchased a 450-acre parcel for a golf community off Golden Gate Parkway in 1976, he took a lot of ribbing from the locals for attempting a project so far “out in the boonies.” The Ontario native’s Wyndemere Country Club was the first and only residential community on Livingston Road, which then stretched north from Golden Gate Parkway, 5/8ths of a mile to the entrance to the community. Livingston, who died in 1988, was among the few who built golf and tennis amenities before marketing his first homesites in 1981.

In August, the first new stretch of Livingston Road opened in Collier County, just south of the original. It’s about 1.5 miles long and links Radio Road to Golden Gate Parkway.

Next September, a 2.5-mile stretch from Golden Gate Parkway to Pine Ridge Road should be completed.

“The next phase from Pine Ridge to Immokalee is under design now,” said Mitch Riley, principal project manager for the Livingston Road project in Collier County. “We should reach 100 percent design by the end of the year, or first of next year. Construction should begin by the second quarter of 2002 and will last about two years.” The last phase of the project in Collier County will widen an existing stretch of the road from Immokalee Road to the Lee/Collier county line. The Bonita Bay Group, developers of Mediterra, put in the two-lane road, instead of paying road impact fees to the county. The paved road currently runs a little bit north of the entrance to Mediterra, but doesn’t yet connect to Bonita Beach Road. Tuscany Reserve (Outlined in Red)

In January, WCI Communities, Inc. announced plans to develop Tuscany Reserve, (outlined in red), a 463-acre golf course community located west of Interstate 75 off Immokalee and Livingston roads in North Naples. The parcel borders I-75, lower right, just south of the Collier-Lee county line. Courtesy/WCI

Most of Livingston Road will be six lanes. Though a half-cent sales tax increase that was to bring in about $20 million a year for road construction recently failed in Collier County, the road project is not expected to be impacted.

“On our part we are O.K.,” Riley said. “As far as I know this project is budgeted for design and construction. We are pressing on.”

In Lee County, the Bonita Bay Group expects to complete the remaining leg from the county line to Bonita Beach Road by the end of the year. It is currently under construction.

At Mediterra, homesites start at $450,000, and single-family homes are going from $1.85 million to more than $5 million. Coach homes start at $500,000, and villas start at $650,000, including the land costs.

Sales have been strong, said Brian Martin, the community marketing manager. “Our second golf course will open for play in January two years ahead of schedule, based on the market demand for golf course home sites,” he said. The developer also released another single-family neighborhood a year ahead of schedule because sales have been so brisk, Martin said. The neighborhood will have 31 homes, and Martin expects them to be sold out within 24 months.

Other developers with plans for projects along Livingston Road are hoping they will also see a strong demand from buyers.

Taylor Woodrow Communities, with its Florida headquarters in Bradenton, plans to build Vasari Country Club off Livingston Road, just north of the Collier County line. The development, which will stretch 375 acres, is zoned for up to 725 homes.

Homes will range from the upper $100,000s to more than $600,000. The community will have garden homes and coach homes. There will also be single-family homes, and detached villas. Though the sales effort has just been launched, interest has been strong, said Michelle Harrison, director of sales and marketing for Taylor Woodrow Communities. “We’ve been collecting a database since last February,” she said. “We have more than 3,000 interested people at this point.”

Interested buyers have been walking into the sales office at Stonebridge Country Club, another Taylor Woodrow development, to ask about Vasari. And they’ve contacted the development company by phone and e-mail.

Harrison feels the interest has something to do with its access off Livingston Road. “I think the whole road is an outstanding location.”

The developer chose the site because it is so close to Interstate 75, and because Livingston Road will make it easy for residents to get to Naples, Harrison said. Stonebridge, located off Airport-Pulling Road, is nearly sold out, and that is also driving interest in Vasari, she said.

Like Stonebridge, Vasari will be a bundled golf community, meaning golf club membership is included in the purchase price of the home.

On-site sales at Vasari should begin in December now that Livingston Road has been black-topped all the way to the community’s entrance.

“The infrastructure is starting,” Harrison said. “Our sales facility is being worked on right now. We will start selling out of Stonebridge until we get on site.”

WCI Communities, based in Bonita Springs, plans to build a 300-home development called Tuscany Reserve off Livingston Road, north of Immokalee Road. The community will have single-family homes, and they will all be “$1 million plus,” said Art Friedman, division president for WCI Homebuilding.

“We think that we will be very successful the way we are positioning the community,” Friedman said. “We’re still finalizing our product mix and pricing.”

The developer is in the process of designing the community’s golf course, homes and clubhouse. The community will have a Tuscan Village theme. Infrastructure for the community could begin in early winter. Models should be open a year from now, Friedman said.

Floriday’s Development Company in Sarasota and K & S Group in Long Island, an investment partner, are planning to build two projects in a planned unit development originally approved as Arlington Lakes. One is a 330-unit apartment complex off Livingston Road, about a 1/2 mile south of Pine Ridge.

Off Whippoorwill Lane, the two companies are also developing a Mediterranean Village-style single-family subdivision, which will have more than 200 detached villas. From Whippoorwill, residents will eventually be able to access Livingston Road.

The apartment complex will have a Mediterranean style with tile roofs and attached garages. One-, two-, and three-bedroom units will be available.

Amenities will be comparable to those found at other high-end apartment projects in the area.

Construction should begin next summer, said Angus Rogers, a principal in Floriday’s. Units should be available by the end of next year.

“We are in the permitting process now,” Rogers said. “We’ve owned the property for a couple of months.” The single-family subdivision, which will be designed to look like a Mediterranean village, will be targeted at full-time residents. The pricing is still being worked out, but they will be more moderately priced.

“We are in the middle of permitting right now (for the homes),” Angus said. “We are working through the process as quickly as we can. We hope this spring to be under way there. The first home would be available some time next year.”

When Livingston Road is finished, Rogers said it will make his two projects a lot more attractive. “I think everybody would agree that as soon as Livingston Road opens, it’s just going to be a godsend, as far as alleviating a lot of the traffic going into the employment areas of Naples proper.”

Another project, Brynwood Preserve, which will be located about a quarter mile south of Pine Ridge on Livingston Road, will have 79 single-family homes.

“We have all of our environmental permits and we’re pretty much ready to go,” said David Braverman, a partner in Brynwood Preserve. Plans are to break ground before the first of the year. Sales should begin once Livingston Road is paved from Golden Gate Parkway to Pine Ridge Road.

The first models should be available by next year. Prices will range from the low $200,000s to about $350,000. Amenities will include a clubhouse and tennis courts. The development will be an alternative for buyers who are not looking to move into a large development.

“Livingston is going to be a gorgeous road,” Braverman said. “It is going to make it very convenient to get to both north and south Naples, which we feel is going to make our property extremely attractive.”

Another project with access off Livingston Road is Bridgewater Bay, which is being developed by LB/P-Groveway, LLC, headed by partners Stuart Wood and Jeff Cotter. Plans call for 524 multi-family and single-family homes on 12 lakes.

The project is being built at the intersection of Orange Blossom Drive and Livingston Road.

When completed the community will have 160 carriage homes in 20 buildings, 144 condominiums in 18 buildings, 112 coach homes in 28 buildings and 108 single-family homes. The community will have a 36,000-square-foot clubhouse with a fitness center. Prices will range from the $130,000s to the $250,000s.

Bridgewater Bay’s developers expect all of the homes in the community to be built out within four to five years.

While thousands of homes are planned off Livingston Road, developers don’t seem too concerned about traffic tie-ups. They seem to feel that since the road will be mostly six lanes, there shouldn’t be trouble with congestion. “Obviously the county has studied the traffic flows,” said Friedman with WCI Homebuilding. “We are approved for 1,300 units and we’re only building 300, so that should help in alleviating that situation.”

Not everyone has been content to await the new road’s completion. Dean Huff, a commercial real estate agent with Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Naples, said plans were moving ahead for a residential project called Alexandria on a 19.5-acre parcel south of Pine Ridge, but they were dropped because road construction on Livingston was taking too long. The owner of the property, J.D. Nicewonder, decided to sell the property because he was tired of waiting for the new road to be connected to it, Huff said. He had owned the land for 10 years. ‘We ended up selling it to Balmoral, and they are kind of holding onto it until the road gets built,” Huff said. “We had it rezoned and it was all ready to go forward. We pulled out.”