In the new home market? Check out these options that are transforming Venice area neighborhoods.

By Marsha Fottler

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Like the song from the classic musical Carousel about June, Venice is busting out all over.

New planned communities both large and tightly targeted by big-name developers as well as new players are blooming in the Venice area. Some are aimed at the huge baby boomer wave flooding Florida, while others appeal to buyers who are active retirees, snowbirds looking for alternatives to a traditional high-rise condominium or young families who need more room to grow and schools and shopping close by.

The best way to evaluate these new neighborhoods is to set aside a weekend and do a model home tour. Even if you aren’t in the market for a new home, you’ll get ideas for decorating and DIY projects for upgrading your current residence.

But you could just find the home of your dreams in your ideal neighborhood. And if not for you, how about your parents who are downsizing—or friends and relatives who are threatening to move to a Florida town near you.

Neal Communities, with 40 years of experience and a good reputation, is aiming to appeal to the boomers with Grand Palm. No golf course here, but instead nine miles of walking and biking trails, an eight-acre park, a beach volleyball court, tennis courts, splash park and dog parks, besides a luxurious clubhouse with fitness center, swimming pool and glamorous outdoor areas.

Additionally, Grand Palm has nine miles of inter-connected wildlife corridors linking Grand Palm to the Jelks Preserve, which borders the Myakka River. In the center of the Grand Palm community is a scenic 40-acre lake with an island in the middle that offers community amenities.

When finished, Grand Palm will have 1,999 homes. Models range from just over 1,000 square feet to about 3,000 square feet. The homes in the Cottage series in this master-planned community are no-maintenance, but there are no condominiums here. Most homes have a two-car garage and front porch. Some floor plans call for up to five bedrooms. All five entrances to Grand Palm are gated.

The 10 models have been furnished by Charlene Neal (wife of owner Pat) and her team, and the homes feature what boomers want in amenities, like granite counters and stainless appliances in the kitchen, which opens to the great room. In the bath, there’s a big walk-in shower and a separate toilet room; in the bedroom, walk-in closets. Plus there’s plenty of natural light and an open-concept floor plan.

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Wallpaper is back for accent walls, and light fixtures have taken on the aspect of fine art. The decor is mostly coastal contemporary, a style that combines a polished, clean look with aspects of seaside casual living.

A developer who’s new to the Venice scene is Steve Brown of Heritage Builders, a U.S. Assets Group Community. Within a 15-acre enclave of 55 single-family homes called Grand Oaks, Brown is promising glamorous elements that are standard in dwellings starting in the high $200,000s.

Grand Oaks is on East Venice Avenue, about three miles from the heart of the city and the beach. The community includes a clubhouse and expensive-looking perimeter landscaping. There is a homeowners association. Six different elevations are available to buyers. Models at Grand Oaks range in size from 1,865 living space to just about 2,000 square feet. Additionally, they all have at least 208 square feet of outdoor living space.

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You can expect granite counters in the kitchen and bath, undermount sinks, walk-in glass-enclosed showers in the master bath, custom American-made wood cabinets, stainless appliances, tray ceilings in the bedroom, living room and dining area, eight-foot raised panel interior doors throughout, fully pocketed sliding doors opening the living room to the lanai, deep baseboards, tile roof, paver driveway, and the list goes on.

Interior designer Lori Fountain has dressed out the three models, which are light and airy with references to modern coastal living.

Grand Oaks is not on the Gulf; the lots are small and the homes are close together. The neighborhood doesn’t have the urban buzz to attract young professionals, and the size of the homes argues against families with school-aged children. But seasonal residents and year-rounders looking for an alternative to the condominium lifestyle are loving this community.

Sarasota National is a big WCI master-planned community of 2,400 acres that’s approved for 1,584 homes, 800 of which surround the tony golf and country club portion of the amenity-rich neighborhood. Homes can be purchased with or without a golf membership, and there are six different dwellings to choose from ranging from 1,375 square feet (the two-bedroom Villa Series) to Golf Estate homes that go beyond 3,500 square feet. The condominiums are the Coach homes, and there are six residences per building, each featuring two bedrooms and two baths with an open great room plan overlooking water with preserve views.

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The golf course is an 18-hole championship course designed by Gordon Lewis. Taylor Ranch Elementary School is nearby. There are seven impressively furnished models to view. The community boasts 1,300 acres set aside for a preservation-conservation area, something that all buyers from boomers to young families to retirees and snowbirds enthusiastically appreciate because it gives them nature, privacy and serenity.

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DiVosta has gone from a builder that used to tightly restrict changes to the basic models to a company that now encourages all kinds of flexibility. At its new master-planned, gated community in Venice called IslandWalk at the West Villages, homebuyers are offered options such as three feet added to the garage, a loft, enclosed sunroom, etc.—in all, about 80 pages of ways to semi-customize the home of your dreams.

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There are many different elevations to choose from, and homes range from 1,100 square feet to estate models exceeding 3,700 square feet. Three-car garages are available. Plenty of lakes and water features are located all over this polished collection of neighborhoods, the design of which is a broad interpretation of Mediterranean revival.

You’ll also find miles of tile roofs and petite, landscaped front yards. Plenty of models to look at, and just about all of them have an open-concept floor plan that eliminates a living room in favor of a great room. Some models have a separate dining room. All have nice big laundry rooms and pantries.

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This is a resort-amenities community, and it boasts the largest swimming pool in Sarasota County, with a separate one for doing laps. An activities director schedules exercise classes, lunches, poker night, mahjongg, arts and crafts shows, bingo, book club, bocce ball, needlework studio—you name it.

There are eight lighted tennis courts, the clubhouse has many multipurpose rooms for entertaining, and there are also plenty of nature-lined walkways. No age restrictions for homeowners, but this 830-acre community with a total of 1,800-plus homesites is mostly attracting snowbirds from the Northeast and Midwest as well as locals downsizing from big homes in the area. There is a monthly homeowners’ fee. To be happy at IslandWalk at The West Villages, it helps to be sociable, because this is a big community, homes are fairly close together and there are lots of planned activities that promote social interaction and new friendships.

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National builder D.R. Horton is making inroads in the North Port area with Talon Bay, a gated, master-planned community of 233 single-family homes and villas. It’s a small community, but an enticing one. There are lovely water and nature preserve views from most neighborhoods in this community, which is trending to snowbirds and active retirees.

About half of buyers are locals who are downsizing or moving up to a home that is brand-new with more features than their existing residence.

The Edison model is open and is well worth touring. The master bath has all the desired features that most Americans are looking for—separate toilet room, spacious walk-in-shower,  free-standing soaking tub and a vanity with two basins. There’s plenty of granite on counters and the tile

floor is done in rectangular “planks.” There is a monthly homeowners’ association fee. The clubhouse has a heated pool, tennis courts and a kayak launch on the Myakkahatchee Creek. Talon Bay is set back off South Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) across the street from Warm Mineral Springs. |||


Grand Palm

12386 Sagewood Drive (off Center Road), Venice

Model homes open daily

(941) 497-9849


Grand Oaks

South on Jacaranda Boulevard, right onto East Venice Avenue heading west. Grand Oaks is one-half mile on the left.Models open daily

(941) 234-0432


Sarasota National

23114 Copperleaf Drive

Models open daily

Main entrance is on U.S. 41, about one-and-a-half miles east of Jacaranda Boulevard

(941) 234-4470


IslandWalk at the West Villages

13639 Salinas St., Venice

(941) 408-8179


Talon Bay

Sales and information, 9879 Hawk Nest Lane, North Port

(941) 876-3665

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