PARRISH – During the course of his long career, developer Pat Neal has built more than 13,000 homes in Southwest Florida.
But the 5,842 homes he’s planning north of Parrish with his son, John Neal, would be the granddaddy of them all.
The Neals already have approvals to build about 2,000 homes for the Villages of Amazon South as well as a new property on the Fort Hamer Road extension.
“They will all be incorporated into a new community currently of about 5,842 homes at our North River Ranch,” Pat Neal said in an email to the Bradenton Herald.
“If approved, we plan to break ground in the new section of North River Ranch now called Haval Farms by summer 2019,” Neal said.
North River Ranch is part of a surge of development north of the Manatee River expected to bring more than 23,000 new homes to the area in the near future, affecting everything from traffic, to the classroom, and more.
Permitting for Haval Farms, planned for 3,842 homes and 82,000 square feet of commercial space on 1,280 acres, is working its way through Manatee County Government.
Ground already has been broken on a portion of North River Ranch, including the Amazon South property.
North River Ranch is located one-half mile south of Buckeye Road and borders U.S. 301 on the east side.
“We have broken ground and have sales (and closed title) to DR Horton, DR Horton Express, DR Horton Freedom, and two other public builders,” Neal said.
DR Horton has started land clearing and has a billboard on U.S. 301 advertising that new homes are coming soon to its Bella Lago neighborhood.
Sewer, streets, water and drainage are about 70 percent complete to a point about 1.5 miles north of Moccasin Wallow Road.
“This is the biggest property that John Neal and I have created. North River Ranch will be gorgeous, have the Neal attention to detail, physical beauty, landscaping, place-making and a beautiful physical environment,” Neal said.
“We intend to emphasize family life in this community, It has a great location, two new schools underway (North River High and Elementary School AA) and the possibility of a new middle school and other place-making amenities,” he said.
CONSEQUENCES FOR PARRISH
All of the growth coming to Parrish has not escaped the attention of long-time Parrish residents who worry about the future of the historic village.
“We don’t want to be forgotten and left as a blighted area,” said Alan Jones of the Parrish Civic Association. “All these new planned developments are coming in and we don’t want to be pushed aside. We don’t want a mishmash of cul-de-sacs and gated communities.”
Jones knows there is no stopping development, and says that Parrish residents themselves and county officials need to step up to ensure the 150-year-old village evolves progressively.
“There are a lot of things that need to be done in Parrish to have a sustainable, walkable community. The county needs to understand all the impacts to this village,” Jones said.
In essence, Parrish residents may have handicapped themselves by designing an overly restrictive overlay district years ago that discouraged developers from coming into the village and contributing amenities, Jones said.
An often-heard complaint in Parrish is the shortage of sit-down restaurants.
“All the things we need in our community, we don’t have. Even to the simple point of getting your hair cut,” Jones said.
An example of what Parrish could aspire to is Southside Village in Sarasota, home to Morton’s Market, and a clutch of attractive restaurants.
“Why can’t we be that?” Jones said.
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