A New City is Born – West Villages of North Port
12,000 acres of wetland, nature preserves, lakes and build-able lots, located between Venice and North Port, will house a new city with the name West Villages of North Port. North Port always wanted to expand further to the west, to the other side of the Myakka River, where the grass is obviously greener.
Once completed, the city will be bigger than Sarasota and Venice combined. 5,000 – 6,000 homes are already in place while another batch of 11,000 homes is already on the drawing board. Eventually, there will be more than 20,000 homes in the area. Read more about here.
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Oasis at West Villages
Some commercial activity will also be included, of course. Department stores, grocery stores like Publix, and offices are planned along US-41 so that residents of the Village. Even a medical facility is planned in the near future. The plan is that residents of the Villages don’t have to drive long distance in order to get the daily service and products they need. However, Venice, North Port or Port Charlotte are not too far away. Even Sarasota is easy to reach within a 30-minute drive.
Some Communities are already established – others are growing fast
Some of the communities have already been in place for a while. Island Walk, Grand Palm, Gran Paradiso and Sarasota National are no newcomers. Some were launched more than ten years ago. However, because they hit a dry spot in 2008 they had to pause for a while to regroup. Other communities, like the Renaissance and Oasis, are the new kids on the block. Grand Palm was also already in place, but it started recently spreading out further south into the villages.
The West Villages will add a significant Number of Homes
Mattamy homes, a very successful home builder from Canada, bought the stretch of land from south of US-41 all the way down to Englewood. They paid „only“ $87 Million for that „little piece“ of land which is about 75% of the former Thomas Ranch. Their project is so huge that at least two generations of home builders will have a job. This is not daydreaming; it will probably take 20 – 30 years to get the infrastructure and all the homes in place.
At least 70,000 people will live in the new villages. Two-thirds will stay within the city limit of North Port, the other third of the population will be „proud residents“ of Sarasota County. Will it make a difference where your home is? Probably not.
Mother Nature will play an important role again
Condominiums, townhouses, villas and single family homes will be embedded in lush sub-tropical landscaping. Natur will play an important role, and even the Myakka River is an important part of the concept. The „River Club“ is designed to give residents access to the Myakka River where non-motorized boating will be permitted. That scenic river with its abundant wildlife is just awesome, and the residents will love that part of their new village. There will be a boat launch where residents can get their kayaks and canoes in and out of the water.
The former Thomas Ranch had already a 30-acre sparkling lake in place and that lake will stay. The developer decided that the lake is a perfect „eye catcher“ and will make everybody, including the alligators, happy. In addition, there will also remain nature preserves, parks, and smaller lakes as well.
The area Beaches are not far away
Water freaks who want to soak up the sun on the beach have options, too.The four beaches on Manasota Key (Manasota Beach, Middle Beach, Englewood Beach and Stump Pass Beach State Park) and the four beaches on the Isle of Venice (Venice Beach, Brohard Beach, Paw Park and Beach and Caspersen Beach) are only a short trip away from the new West Villages. Manasota Key Road, the street at the southern end of the village, will get the Sun-seekers within minutes to the beach.
Stump Pass Beach State Park
…Like a Painting by Salvador Dali
Stump Pass Beach State Park – an amazing place in Englewood, Florida. Expect endless wildlife from Turtles, Egrets, and Ospreys, to Dolphins, Frigate Birds, and Manatees.
Also, be prepared to look back in time. This spot looks pretty much like Florida did hundred, two hundred or three hundred years ago.
The white sand of the beach stands in perfect contrast to the emerald green water of the Gulf of Mexico while the white skeletons of Australian Pine trees are sticking out of the sand. They are white like snow – bleached by the endless shining Florida sun. They look like fingers pointing into the endless, dark blue sky. The scenery somehow appears to be surreal; it looks as if Salvador Dali has made arrangements for a new painting. Is he still around?
Australian Pines in Florida?
Those stumps are the remnants of Australian Pine trees, an invasive plant that grows and spreads like crazy in Florida’s climate. Native to Australia, they made it onto the “most unwanted” plants list. Although no pine trees at all, they are flowering trees, they were once introduced to Florida to help stabilize the soil. They do that very well, but they edit some more “benefits” to it: they are creating a dense shade, and they are emitting a herbicide that is killing every plant that has the guts to grow within their drip line.
The park rangers killed all those trees to protect the native plants, and what you see is the result of that action. All their skeletons are now bleaching in the sun until they are completely gone, and Florida’s natural vegetation is reigning again.
Ha, where is the Fish?
A Bird Sanctuary
A 1.3-mile long hiking trail is cutting through a thick Mangrove/Sea Grape “jungle.” At the south end lies a little lagoon. It is a protected area for nesting seabirds and visitors should respect the rights of these precious creatures. The parent birds are working hard. During the breeding season, all birds are busy catching fish and feeding their hungry young ones from dusk to dawn. Once the hard work is done, and the new generation of birds is on its own the parents can relax in the sun. They look exhausted, tired, and now they are dozing in the hot fall sun. Next year it will start all over again. Life ain’t easy for birds.
Stump Pass – a great Place to be
Stump Pass, how that stream of water is called that is connecting Lemon Bay with the Gulf, is a favorite hang-out spot for the local boaters. On public holidays it can be just crazy out there. Hundreds of boats with happy people of all ages are anchoring along the shoreline. Everybody is in the water and dogs are running around playing with each other. The boaters are soaking in the warm water of the bay while enjoying a nice refreshing drink of whatever is in their cup. We don’t know what’s in their glasses, but we don’t care. They are happy campers. Therefore, there must be something “happy” in their cups, too.
It is tricky but worth it
The first section of the trail is a boardwalk, however, the predominant part of the trail consist of sand and shells. When walking on those shells, you sometimes feel like being a fakir. Therefore, if your feet are sensitive bring your flip flops with you. In May, June and July the sand is blazing. Yes, it is so damn hot. You might try to jump from shadow to shadow, but in some areas, there is hardly any. Now it feels like you are dancing on a hot cooking plate.
The mangroves and sea grapes do provide a nice, shady canopy, but there are stretches of sand baking in the sun with no shadow at all. When you hit those spots, they will set your feet on fire.
However, there is another option to avoid that dance if you forgot to bring your shoes: you can walk through the shallow water along the Gulf side – all the way to Stump Pass. That feels a lot better, and we always prefer to take that route.
Bring food, bring drinks; the next restaurant is a mile away! There is a Coke vending machine, but because that thing has been sitting outside without any protection for years, it tends to be moody. It may take your money but refuses to spit out your cold drink. There are restrooms and picnic tables, a gazebo and outdoor showers. You can bring your kayaks, canoes or small fishing boats and launch them in the park (Lemon Bay side only).
Parking can be tricky
There are probably 100 parking lots available, and in peak season you have to “fight” for a spot. But the park rangers are pretty good. They try to help you find a place without causing bloodshed. The early bird catches the worm, therefore, don’t be too late. Especially on public holidays, when everybody wants to catch some rays, the Rangers cannot help you. And don’t forget: $3 is the entrance fee and they enforce it.
The Location of Stump Pass Beach State Park is at the south end of Manasota Key. The 245-acre nature preserve consists of 3 islands which are divided by two channels. The channel between Manasota Key and Don Pedro Island is called Stump Pass.
Only Manasota Key, where the main section of the park is located (including the ranger station), can be reached by car. If you want to go to the other islands you need the help of a small boat. Be prepared that Stump Pass has a pretty strong current, depending on the state of the tide. On certain days it is not advisable to go through the pass with a small boat.
Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club, Englewood FL
Country Club Living in Englewood Florida
Oyster Creek is a stream of water which runs through parts of Englewood. Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club is a lively and active Community where this creek cuts through. The residents enjoy low HOA fees, maintenance free living, 24/7 manned gate, excellent amenities, beautiful homes for a reasonable price, pet friendliness, and an excellent location. The community is within walking/golf cart distance to many stores, banks, and restaurants.
Why we like Oyster Creek & Country Club
There are not many gated communities in Englewood, and there are just a few Golf Course Communities. Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club is one of them. Twenty years ago, we decided to build a vacation home in Florida. We had been all over the place from the Keys to Miami, Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Sarasota and decided to stay in Englewood.
We loved the Keys – notably Marathon – but we felt it was too remote. 27 years ago we saw many empty lots waiting for a buyer, although, that has changed in the meantime. Back then, Houses were scattered all over the place, some of them at least 200 yards apart from each other. Rotonda West didn’t appeal to us then, with its canals and only a few scattered homes.
We came to Venice and Sarasota and liked what we saw. Eventually, we made it to Englewood. A German realtor had convinced us to have a close look at one community, which was “Oyster Creek Golf & Country Club.” So we went saw and loved it.
Our list was long
We wanted a community where the atmosphere is vibrant and lively with friendly neighbors. A neighborhood where you can walk, walk at night, walk whenever you want to walk. We were looking for a community where you could take part in certain activities. We certainly did not want to live in a place where the association goes overboard. In some of the neighborhoods, the associations are controlling your life, which was not for us. Oyster Creek is perfect for part-time residents as well.
If you are looking for a gated community in Englewood, you do not have too many choices. Boca Royal Golf & Country Club is a mature community with still new construction going on. Nice but pricey. Stillwater has newer homes and villas, but we didn’t like the location too much. Oyster Creek Golf & Country Club seemed to be perfect.
Dear reader, now you may think that living in the gated Oyster Creek golf community is too expensive, right?
Heated Pool with Spa
Here are some facts:
Is a monthly fee of $185 for 24/7 manned- gate, ground maintenance and use of community center with tennis, spa and heated/cooled pool too high?
Okay, so far we have covered only the basics, and if you are still interested, we can dig a little deeper. Englewood’s finest golf course community consists of roughly 450 single family homes and villas. Many of them are facing the 18-hole executive golf course, designed by Ted McAnlis.
Golf Course information:
The golf course is a separate entity, and the homeowners have nothing to do with it. Sweet to know! The red tile roofs are sticking out of a beautiful, lush, sub-tropical landscaping. A big part of the community consists of lakes, wetlands and nature preserves. There is plenty of wildlife in the neighborhood. Be prepared to have gators, bobcats, and ospreys as your neighbors. Opossum families may cross your path, and once in a while, a turtle needs your help crossing the street. Gators – yes – there are gators in those ponds and lakes. We are in Florida!
In Oyster Creek, you live in the middle of the town, and you live in perfect harmony with nature at the same time.
The homebuyer can choose between golf course view, lake view, nature preserve view or garden view. Quite a few homes are lined up along Oyster Creek.
By the way, the location of the community can’t be any better. While the sunny beaches are only a 5-minute drive away, shops and restaurants are much closer. The 24/7 Super-Walmart is even accessible by golf cart or bicycle. When you live in the first section, you can also walk. How many communities can claim that?
More facts about the location: I-75 is about 15 miles away. Port Charlotte and Venice, both are just a 10-mile drive away. Sarasota is only a 30-40 minutes drive away; Fort Myers is an hour away. All three major International Airports (Tampa, Sarasota, and Fort Myers) are within a 90-minute radius. Punta Gorda Airport offers many choices for national destinations like Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina
The Community Layout
When driving through the 24/7 manned gated community, the first section (or phase one) is not on the golf course. Here are smaller homes, most of them are two bedroom homes with a 2-car garage, and most of them have no pool. They have either lake or garden/nature preserve view. The houses in phase I are from the early ’90s.
Crossing the bridge over the Oyster Creek, you are entering Phase II and III. Most of the houses are newer and larger with three bedrooms or at least a den. Most of the homes have preserve, lake or golf course views. Many homes come with a pool; some have a 3-car garage. However, if you are hunting for a 4 or 5 bedroom home with 3,000 + sq ft, Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club is not the right address. Most homes are in the midsize range; a size of 1,600 to 2,000 sqft is common, very few are over 2,400 sqft.
Right by the bridge is the clubhouse with the huge community pool and lighted tennis courts. The pro shop with snack bar is the building right next to the community center. The clubhouse has a lot to offer: a sparkling heated pool with spa and a well-equipped fitness center. A library with TV and a kitchen is also available. Pool billiard, table tennis, and many social activities, including group travel to worldwide destinations, are part of the “community deal.”
By the way, Oyster Creek Golf & Country Club is “moderately” deed restricted. Park as many cars as you can fit on your driveway, but not on the street. Noncommercial pick-up trucks can be parked outside. With approval, you can park a camper outside for a few days. Boats are not allowed on the driveway. Does that make sense? We think so.
Other rules: Can you paint your home pink? Nope! All homes have the same color scheme, which needs HOA approval when re-painting. Do you want to re-arrange your yard? You can do that but ask the landscaping committee first. They want to keep the monthly fees low. Therefore, they want to check that you do not plant too many obstacles for the lawn guys.
Can you have a dog? Yes. What about two dogs? You can have two or even more dogs. Any size? No size or weight limit. Any breed? Even Pitbulls? Yes, any kind, but they need to behave. Yes, they do! Can you have cats and dogs? If that is your wish, you can have both. Can you have a horse? Only in your bedroom.
Oyster Creek Golf Course
The mid-size golf course provides a challenge for golfers of all skill levels. Six par fours and twelve par threes create a fair test. Bermuda Grass fairways, paved cart trails, putting and chipping green, practice bunker and water hazards provide fun for golfers of all age and handicaps.
Compared to other communities in the area, the 24 h gated, full maintenance Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club is a deal. The community offers many of the same amenities that higher priced communities provide to their homeowners. Even if you are not an avid golfer, you’ll love what this community on Florida’s West-Coast provides. To find out about the Englewood area, you can also visit our blog.
Do you want us to find your perfect home in Oyster Creek Golf & Country Club or the greater Englewood area? Send us an email or give us a call at 941-244-8341. It never hurts to get more information – but maybe you just found your future home for you and your dog. There are not too many homes for sale in Oyster Creek, and there is a reason for that! People love it.
If I can’t find my dream home in Venice, FL, I can go to Naples instead. Pronto, pronto!
Well, maybe, but let’s try to clarify the difference between both cities. Naples versus Venice or Naples equals Venice? One thing is for sure; both cities have a famous Italian name, and they are only 75 miles apart (not 450 miles like their Italian counterparts). Okay, that doesn’t get us any further. Are those two cities on the Gulf of Mexico comparable with each other? Let us check.Maybe we are comparing apples with oranges.
The history of both cities looks pretty much alike, but when the cities reached crossroads, they embarked in different directions. That happened somewhat after WWII. But let us start a little earlier.
History of Venice and Naples
Wagon at the Old Train Station in Venice, FL
Both cities were founded roughly at the same time. There is no exact starting point, but that probably happened somewhat in the late 1880s. Although the first railroad was already built in 1911, that didn’t change anything. Venice remained a small fishing town and farming community. Therefore, it didn’t exactly smell of roses when travelers came to the city. The city dwellers didn’t notice that fishy smell. They were used to it. For them, it was the smell of prosperity, of money. Although, money shouldn’t stink that bad.
Development occurred slowly – watching the overall activity at that time was like watching paint dry. Almost the same thing happened in Naples. Agriculture and real estate development dominated the economy in Naples for many decades, but nothing resembled a boom. At least it didn’t stink of fish – like in Venice.
Suddenly, something happened: The railroad reached Naples in 1927, but for whatever reason, that also did not have a significant impact until after the war. Oh, yes, there was a reason for that! Like many other areas in the world, Venice and Naples, both got hit hard during the Great Depression. Life was miserable in the early 1930s; one can hardly imagine how bad it was.
Municipal Airport in Venice, FL
Eventually, during WWII, both cities got a little help from the Army. American planes dominated the skies over Asia and Europe. Inexperienced pilots had a short expiration date. Therefore, many aircraft and many pilots were needed to replace the not so lucky fighters.
Fortunately, Naples and Venice both had small airfields, which the Air Force could use for training purposes. Although, the young pilots did not paint the town red. They were too busy learning the skills necessary to survive the first enemy encounters. Nevertheless, they spent at least a good portion of their pay for things young men like to spend money for. All that money kept both cities afloat during those hard times.
The airports are still around today. The owners modernized them through the years, and they both became Municipal airports.
A limited number of inbound/outbound planes are servicing some national airport up north, and flight schools are teaching soon-to-be pilots how to land without tearing off the landing gear of the aircraft. Once in a while, an airshow takes place which is entertaining the crowd with vintage planes and air tours.
Now we are in the year 2016. Venice and Naples have almost the same size (about 20,000 + over 300,000 in the surrounding county), both have a historic downtown area, both cities have an airport. Both cities have a fishing pier, where you can fish for free. No license is required! You can rent equipment and buy bait directly on the pier. How wonderful. Both cities also have a beautiful beach.
Nevertheless, after the war, each city took a different route. The proximity to Miami, the Everglades, Marco Island, Sanibel, and Fort Myers attracted a lot of wealthy northerners and Europeans, while Venice catered more to the middle-class retiree community. This decision should have a huge impact over the next decades.
Fishing Pier in Naples
Naples became one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, with the sixth-highest per capita income in America, and the second-highest proportion of millionaires per capita in the US. Real estate is among the most expensive in the country, with houses on sale for in excess of $40 million. “Mamma Mia! Materialmente impossible!” That makes a difference. We will look at some Venice Real Estate numbers a little later, but those numbers are outrageous.
Fishing Pier in Venice
Can you guess who has bought a second, third or fourth home in Naples? Here they are. What does Venice have in store? Yes, only (only?) Stephen King (on Casey Key). But that’s okay. One celebrity is better than none.
What else is different: Naples appears to be more “upscale,” Venice more “laid back.” The shops are more sophisticated in Naples, and they carry more expensive items. Venice is more “laid back,” offering more “regular” stuff. Naples has an exciting nightlife, in Venice, they roll up the sidewalks at 10 pm. Naples has upscale restaurants, Venice has restaurants, too. However, here comes the whopper: the same amount of money that gets you a small single-family home in Venice buys you probably a nice one-car garage in Naples.
Life is good. The parrot thinks he is a human being (the owner told us)
Real Estate Values in Venice versus Naples:
Home in Naples, FL
The median house or condo value in Naples was a whopping $321,100 in 2016. The median home value has gone up 11.4% over the last year. Compared to the median house and condo value in Venice with $223,700 and the State of Florida with $181,800, those numbers make a difference for some home buyers – at least for home buyers on a tighter budget. Naples is by far not an alternative for them, because homes in the $180,000 range are nonexistent there; at least not in desirable locations.
For homebuyers who have a little more money to play with, Naples may be an ideal location. Naples – also called ”The crown jewel of Southwest Florida “- is nestled on the more than 10 miles long sun-drenched beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Naples is known for world-class shopping, fine and casual dining and abundant, challenging championship golf courses. It is also, only steps away from island seclusion or the untamed tropical wilderness of The Everglades National Park, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Picayune Strand State Forest.
There are parking meters everywhere, and if you don’t carry ten pounds of quarters with you, you are easily out of luck.
Parking meters in Naples
Be prepared to spend six quarters per hour. You need to carry a heck of a lot of metal around for your 2-week vacation. County officials tried the same thing in Sarasota, but hell broke loose. The parking meters are long gone, and there is free parking everywhere again in Sarasota County, even at the beach. That is so sweet.
Will Sarasota remain a “parking paradise” forever? We don’t know, but most likely not.
One of those days Naples will probably switch to electronic payment. That would make it a lot easier to depart you from your hard-earned money. You won’t even notice how your money is flying out of your bank account into theirs. How beautiful is that?
“There is a Beach for Dogs in Venice where you and your furry friend get the feet wet
Is there a dog beach somewhere? Where can I take my furry friend with me to the Gulf of Mexico? Good question. Unfortunately, you cannot do that on any public beach in Sarasota County. NO DOGS PERMITTED says the sign.
But in Venice, you can legally introduce your best friend to the “endless blue ocean. Yes, “Brohard Paw Park and Beach” is the name of that place. It is indeed a dog beach. This piece of good news will make your dog smile, and he will probably wag his tail like crazy when you tell him the good news. Dog lovers from all over America have declared the “Paw Park” to be the “Best Dog-Friendly Park in the State.” Wuff! That is a statement, isn’t it? And no dog would even dare to disagree!
How do you find that doggy paradise?” You drive along with the municipal airport towards the beach. Pass Sharky’s, Fin’s and the fishing pier and voila – there it is on the right-hand side. If you decide to move to Venice and would love to live in a community that welcomes your pets, check out our special webpage with pet-friendly communities
A Dog Beach called Paw Park
A grassy area shaded by towering oaks is what you will see at first glance. The whole section is fenced-in and accessible through double gates. A fenced-in and paved walkway merges with a boardwalk which cuts through the dunes to the beach. There is a long stretch of beach only reserved for dogs – and maybe the owners can stay, too?
Dogs are racing in and out of the water, dog owners chatting with other dog owners while tossing Frisbees and tennis balls, not noticing that the color of their skin is gradually changing from pale to a vibrant red. You hear barking, laughing and the sound of the surf. Once in a while, you will notice the noise from the airport next to the park. Depending on the wind direction, small planes are coming home or taking off, disappearing into a perfect blue sky. However, that doesn’t bother the dogs at all. They are happy here no matter what is flying in the sky!
In the Summer the Beach is HOT
In the summer months, the sand can be darn hot, and you may be forced to carry your “little” friend to the water’s edge. Don’t forget to bring your flip flops or any beach shoes. The sand can be scorching on a sunny day in June/July, and you will feel the hot sand under your “paws,” too. Feels like walking on a stove top. That hurts!
After all the barking, swimming and chasing are well done you are probably ready for some “activity” – also called “nap” – in the shade. The best place to go is back to the grassy area where you will find drinking fountains for dogs, showers on decks for dogs, leash posts, and fenced-in sections to separate the big guys from the small guys (if necessary, but usually they all get very well along with each other).
Under the shade of those mature oak trees, dogs can socialize with other dogs; owners can chat with other dog owners (didn’t they do that already on the beach?). Dog owners and dogs can communicate with people on the other side of the fence. That is new.
The Paw Park is specifically designed to accommodate only creatures with “paws,” but there are fortunately some amenities for creatures without paws as well. Human comfort includes drinking fountains, restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. BYOB (Bring Your Bone) – and enjoy the day – and don’t forget to take your nap.
Doggie waste bags and receptacles are provided everywhere. For whatever reason parking space is very limited. Park planners had probably only dogs in mind – and they don’t drive cars. However, on the other side of the street, where the airport is, there is plenty of off-street parking available. They might not even tow you – but you never know.
Take Water with you
Tip: Be sure to bring plenty of fresh drinking water for your furry friend down to the beach. Don’t expect drinking fountains by the water; there is only salt water. Bring your shoes with you in June and July. The sand is HOT. Be prepared to carry your two 160 lb labradoodle to the water. A piece of cake.
Furthermore, always check the water condition of the Gulf before letting your dog swim. Once in a while, there is algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico, called red tide, which doesn’t only kill the poor fish but can be harmful to you and your dog as well. When you need to hold your nose or see fish belly-up in the water, it is time to take Fido further inland. Fortunately, only fish get killed by the red tide – so far. If you think that swimming with dolphins is fun – swimming with dead and rotting fish is not so cool. There are some other places where you can go with your dog, but nothing is like the Paw Park and Beach in Venice.