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Lakewood Ranch "Lite"--Heritage Harbour, Bradenton, Florida

Posted by Robert Casella on Monday, January 16th, 2012 at 1:41pm.

In the past, I affectionately called the Sarasota/Bradenton area a "small town with big city aspirations", and this certainly still rings true today. On one hand, there are an abundance of stores, boutiques, restaurants, and services for just about everything you need. At the same time, it has that small town feel, which appeals to people trying to get away from the "big city." In my opinion, this atmosphere creates a perfect blend that satisfies the expectations for a multitude of different buyers.

Similarly, this analogy-that is, "a small town with big city aspirations"-can be dialed down in scope to a community level, and the juxtaposition of Heritage Harbour and Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton, Florida serves as a perfect example. About 20 years ago or so, Lakewood Ranch exploded on the scene in Bradenton. Originally thought as a project that was doomed for failure, the community quickly blossomed into a prominent and affluent area. Today, it is the crown jewel of Bradenton, and is home to an abundance of residences and bustling commercial activity. At some point later, Heritage Harbour, a masterfully designed community located on the Manatee River (just north of Lakewood Ranch), took up roots.

In an ironic twist of fate, the colossal and artificially supported boom of the mid 2000's served as a launching platform for Heritage Harbour as it blasted off and into the residential stratosphere. Like many new residential developments at the time, purchase lotteries and waiting lists were not uncommon in Heritage Harbour, which is comprised of two golf course communities--Stoneybrook and River Strand. Of course, ultimately the earth cooled and the housing market collapsed. Heritage Harbour, like many communities, suffered from foreclosures and short sales in the aftermath of the housing bust. However, unlike other communities, Heritage Harbour was situated in close proximity to Lakewood Ranch and generally catered to a similar customer base--Lakewood Ranch Boulevard almost acts as a connective tissue between the two communities. Correspondingly, Heritage Harbour was a prime beneficiary of overflow buyers looking for a more affordable option, but with similar luxury perks.

This is where I come in. I worked in Heritage Harbour for the builder and sold hundreds of homes. During my time with the builder, I began to appreciate this somewhat symbiotic relationship between Lakewood Ranch and my community. Oftentimes, people searching for homes liked Lakewood Ranch, but it had become cost prohibitive given the current economic climate. Searching for alternatives, buyers seeking affordable luxury started coming in droves and gobbling up new homes, resales, short sales, and foreclosures. In fact, one of my favorite phrases-one that particularly resonated with my customers-was a phrase that I coined..."welcome to Lakewood Ranch Lite!" Invariably, I would receive a crooked smile as they too realized that this community was seemingly a "small town" extension of the "big city" of Lakewood Ranch. In fact, talk to me ten years from now-I wouldn't be surprised if Lakewood Ranch calls Heritage Harbour one of its communities.

Robert Casella, CLHMS - Licensed Realtor
Certified Luxury Home Specialist

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