Lake Flores Receives 2016 Outstanding Development Award

Award-BFFor the second consecutive year, Lake Flores has been recognized by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA) for being an exceptional community. The proposed Manatee County community was named as the 2016 Outstanding Development at an awards luncheon in Jacksonville on June 3rd. In presenting the award, FPZA committee members praised Lake Flores’ public outreach efforts and its strong design emphasis on walkability. Last year, Lake Flores was honored by the same group as the 2015 Outstanding Planning Project.

“On behalf of the entire Lake Flores team, I’m honored to receive this award and especially pleased to be recognized for a second year,” said Whiting Preston, whose family owns the land and who has headed efforts to develop the Lake Flores vision. “Our team has been working very hard to move forward with our plans, and we appreciate the time and expertise of countless individuals who have contributed to our progress.”

Manatee County Commission
Approves Lake Flores Proposal

Whiting Preston is pleased to share that the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners has approved plans for the proposed master-planned community known as Lake Flores. The Lake Flores team appeared before commissioners August 6th to review the plans, answer questions and discuss details of the proposal. The approval was granted unanimously with a 5-0 vote.

“We are obviously very pleased with the decision of the County Commission,” said Preston. “We would like to thank everyone who spoke on behalf of the proposal today, as well as the hundreds of people who have encouraged and supported the plan along the way. This is a great day for the future of Manatee County.”

Preston commended county staff, department heads and team members who were instrumental in developing the Lake Flores proposal. “Today’s presentation was the result of the expert collaboration and hard work of many, many people. The county has been diligent in their work with us and we appreciate their wisdom and professionalism.”

Preston said he intends to move forward quickly and will meet with in-house staff and consultants to plan a timeline for future action. “We will sit down with our land planners and design team and begin to create our architectural standards, review the research on the type of housing that might be popular, locations of greenspace, formulate the infrastructure including creating gathering places near and along the lake. The ideas will quickly become a sought out community for both locals and those moving into the area. Our team will work closely with county staff to ensure that all requirements are met and that we proceed in an efficient and effective manner.”
Lake Flores is a proposed mixed-use development slated to offer a New Urbanism concept with residents living, working and playing in a walkable master-planned community. Located on nearly 1,300 acres stretching from IMG Academy west to 75th Street between Cortez Road and El Conquistador Parkway, the property had been used for agricultural purposes by Manatee Fruit Company for the last 50 years. The Lake Flores community is expected to gradually transform empty fields into a dynamic community with abundant green spaces and a 19-acre manmade lake. When complete, Lake Flores will include as many as 6,500 homes, 3 million square feet of retail and office space, and 500 hotel rooms.

Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Votes to Approve Peninsula Bay Proposal

Manatee Fruit Co. is pleased to report that the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners has approved plans for a proposed master-planned community known as Peninsula Bay. Whiting Preston and his team appeared before the Commission October 6th to answer questions and discuss details of the proposal.

“We are thrilled by the decision of the county commissioners and look forward to the next steps in making our vision of Peninsula Bay a reality,” said Mr. Preston. “We are tremendously excited about the potential positive impact this neighborhood could create for the entire region. We thank the county staff and Planning and Zoning Board for their recommendation of approval to the Board, as well as everyone who spoke today on our behalf.”

Located on 360 acres along Cortez Road, Peninsula Bay is currently zoned for planned development and primarily consists of an agricultural operation surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The development team envisions the property as a waterfront community of up to 1950 homes with a marina, boat ramp and kayak launch, a 67-acre lake that would buffer existing mangroves, and a waterfront area for shopping and dining.

Peninsula Bay Plan Brings
Traffic Solutions

Over the past 30 plus years, the Preston family has a long history of providing for West Bradenton traffic improvement projects as the community grew. There is a road-widening project right now (53 Ave) that is an example of this involvement. There are many others to cite, i.e. El Conquistador Parkway, 75th Street west, Cortez Road, and others.

beach ridersThe tourism industry for Manatee County is a billion dollar plus industry that supports many businesses and families in our community. The beaches just happen to be the number one attraction for many Bradenton area visitors and residents. There are 2 bridges that are over 50 years old and lead to that amenity which have sustained the growth of the community. Those bridges are obsolete and need replacement as the draw bridges contribute to traffic congestion by opening frequently during the busy season. We spend millions of dollars pumping sand on the beach to accommodate more people and millions of dollars promoting the area as a vacation destination all over the world.

water taxiEven though the lion’s share of the traffic estimated in the future will not be Peninsula Bay’s traffic, the development will make positive contributions to the transportation network in the following ways:

  1. Access to the water, and therefore, an alternative mode in the form of water transportation to the beach and surrounding recreational opportunities.
  2. A resort destination atmosphere with waterfront hospitality and dining attractions, which are presently only available on Anna Maria Island. Providing these alternative destinations has the potential of capturing traffic for the area before it goes to the beach.
  3. New roads providing better and safer ingress and egress for residents already living adjacent to Peninsula Bay.
  4. Traffic impact fees generated by the project will be spent in the vicinity of the development. Understand that impact fees paid in east county cannot be spent in west county.
  5. Additional roadway improvements may be required for final site plan approval to meet concurrency and/or operational safety.

Additionally, the County and the Lake Flores development have conceived of a park and ride concept to get people to the island via mass transit and are continuing to meet to make this happen.

bicycles on trailExtending a multi model trail system to the beach has also been discussed as a possible way for the immediate area to mitigate traffic within the Cortez vicinity and, when the Cortez bridge is rebuilt, should connect Cortez to the beach with a quick transportation option that is not easily available to those living farther away.

Furthermore, the Local Development Agreement (LDA) between Manatee County and Manatee Fruit Company in 2011 will provide the assurance that both the Lake Flores and Peninsula Bay developments will contribute the to the County roadway network by improving the system. This agreement represents the foresight that was conceived, many years ago, for the eventual development of these properties consistent with the County’s comprehensive plan.

Lastly, but of significant importance, our market research firm, Robert Charles Lesser and Company, (RCLCO), completed an economic analysis for both Lake Flores and Peninsula Bay. Both projects combined would provide ad valorem taxes to the county and school board in excess of $15 million every year after complete build out. The Lake Flores and Peninsula Bay projects not only pay for themselves in terms of county services, but they provide a significant surplus each and every year – dollars that can be directed to further infrastructure improvements.