Terrabrook, the company that developed Westchase, is creating the town of Connerton in Pasco County.
Dozens of developers are creating communities in Florida, but only one can say it's building a town in this part of Florida, says Stewart Gibbons, president of Connerton.
"To be designated as a 'new town,' a community must include certain uses in addition to the myriad of other uses you'd normally find," Gibbons says, citing Disney's Celebration near Orlando and Seaside in the Panhandle as the two other designated "new" towns in Florida that have been developed.
About 8,700 homes are to be built in the five Connerton villages on 4,800 acres, which will include restaurants, medical facilities, three schools, banks, a grocery store and offices, Gibbons says. Altogether, 3.5 million square feet of commercial use space is planned, Gibbons says. Arbor Square, Connerton's first retail destination, opened in March with Publix as the anchor.
University Community Hospital is expected to break ground on a 50-bed long-term acute care facility in January. The facility will be the first tenant in Connerton Commerce Park.
One of the town's highlights will be Club Connerton, an amenity complex in the Gardens Village Center, which is under construction, Gibbons says. The social and recreational activities center will feature an aquatic playground, state-of-the-art fitness facility, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, green spaces and an outdoor amphitheatre.
Getting physical activity is easy for Connerton residents, Gibbons says. An extensive trail and boardwalk system runs throughout the community, which is dotted with parks and playgrounds.
"Our residents also have the benefit of a full-time activities director, who arranges nature walks, scavenger hunts, photography, wine tasting, sports and other activities," he says. "It has been a great way for people to get acquainted."
"Many home sites back onto natural wooded areas and lakes," Gibbons says. "You'll very often see deer, turkey and sandhill cranes. It's a beautiful, natural setting."
Terrabrook received a Future of the Region Environment Award from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council for its environmentally-friendly approach to development at Connerton , the Outstanding Florida Friendly Community Award from Florida Yards and Neighborhoods and the Best Community of the Year by the Pasco Building Association in 2006 and 2007.
Connerton also plans additional nature trails through Conner Preserve, nearly 3,000 acres of nature preserve owned by the South Florida Water Management District in Connerton's back yard.
David Weekley, Morrison Homes, Smith Family Homes, Standard Pacific Homes, Costanza Homes and Arthur Rutenberg are among the builders offering homes in the community.
"You have a really nice opportunity to select a home that fully meets your family's needs," Gibbons says. "You can find housing that fits you. It's amazingly convenient to walk to the village center and enjoy shopping, restaurants and other services."
In the first village, The Arbors, homes are priced from the high $200,000s to more than $1 million, says Gibbons, who has lived there since May 2006.
"As you drive through Arbors Village, you'll see people out on their porches, their children playing in their yards," he says.
The second village, The Gardens, is now selling. Most homes will be two stories and have porches. It will be a traditional neighborhood, with alleys and detached garages in the back. Town homes and maintenance-free homes also will be added.
"Our builders have worked hard to keep construction costs low and because interest rates are attractive, this would be a good time to give careful consideration to buying a home," Gibbons says.
"The best way to investigate Connerton is to visit the Rose Cottage Welcome Center and hear and see the Connerton story for yourself," Gibbons says.
The center, at 20421 Rose Cottage Way, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
For information, visit www.connerton.com or call (813) 995-2460.