Market snapshot: IslandWalk, West Villages in North Port



IslandWalk, an eye-catching, gated resort-style community in the West Villages of North Port, is growing in dramatic fashion. Located on U.S. 41 past Jacaranda Boulevard, where the Tamiami Trail takes a turn east, it is being developed by DiVosta Homes, a Florida builder that also created VillageWalk and The Isles in Palmer Ranch.



The concept, reflected in the name, is a community of islands surrounded by a network of large, man-made lakes. All of the houses back onto water, and the lakes also provide irrigation for lawns and common landscape areas. Wetlands and preserve areas abound, as well. Walkways, bicycle paths and attractive bridges connect the various sections.

islandwAfter an auspicious beginning in early 2000, DiVosta, which is owned by Pulte Group, one of the largest home builders in the United States, slowed down when the recession hit in 2006 and 2007. Since the recovery, however, new construction at IslandWalk is back in full swing. The neighborhood is in its second phase, with nearly 750 homes of the projected 2,000 or so residences sold.

“It’s one of the fastest-growing communities around, a sales leader,” said Joe Hayden of RE/MAX Platinum, who is himself a sales leader in the new-construction business.

While not age-restricted, IslandWalk is targeted to older residents: snowbirds and year-round retirees seeking an active lifestyle.

The gates are manned 24 hours a day, and all of the homes are maintenance-free. Golf carts are allowed, although IslandWalk is not a golf-course community, and most residents walk to the resort center.

“With so many public golf courses around, that’s actually an attraction for many people who don’t want to have to join,” says Hayden.

The 14,000-square-foot clubhouse has a large, state-of-the-art fitness center; a movement studio for Zumba, yoga and Pilates classes; a library; a catering kitchen; an activities room and a large space for all kinds of events. An on-site activities director keeps the social calendar busy, helping to plan special events, create clubs and coordinate group outings.

For the sports-oriented, there are eight Har-Tru tennis courts, two bocce ball courts and four pickleball courts. An appealing lawn area with a nearby fire pit and a lakeside gazebo accommodates other special events.

Behind the resort center is the one of the largest man-made lakes in Sarasota County. It has a heat exchanger so the salt water resort pool at the clubhouse can be heated or cooled to a constant 84 degrees in the winter and summer. There is also a lap pool.

DiVosta has already received permits for a 16,000-square-foot community building next door, designated just for activities. Due to open in 2015, it will accommodate up to 400 people at a time.

“They’re very good at developing infrastructure for expanding growth,” Hayden said.

Eighteen home designs are available, for homes of 1,133 square feet and one bedroom to 2,589 square feet and three bedrooms. Base prices start at $162,990 and max out at $314,490.

The area along U.S. 41 in the West Villages eventually is expected to offer all kinds of amenities, including a Publix just down the road, a shopping area, a Sarasota Memorial Hospital emergency room and a branch of State College of Florida.

Beaches and downtown Venice are just short drives away. In fact, the area sees itself as an extension of Venice, in spite of being in North Port. In 2010, when the U.S. Postal Service surveyed residents on whether they wanted a North Port mailing address instead of their Venice address, they voted 266 to 6 against the change.

Interest in IslandWalk remains high.

This month, DiVosta held a “dusty shoe event,” inviting people for a first glimpse of nine new models next to the old models they will replace in March. The interiors were bare sheetrock. More than 650 people showed up on a Saturday, about twice as many as expected.

Sales of new construction have been strong for the past three years and kept steady in 2013 despite an increase in competition from other new communities in the West Villages. More than 40 homes have sold already this year. According to Zillow, 14 resales are available, ranging from $186,000 to $410,000.


Last modified: February 21, 2014
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