Market snapshot: Lake of the Woods of Jacaranda



Lake of the Woods of Jacaranda in East Venice is a cluster of residential communities surrounding a 35-acre natural body of water, Lake Meredith. Located between Center Road and U.S. 41, it was first developed in the late 1980s.

The neighborhood is not gated. Sarasota County services the main thoroughfare, while the subdivisions take care of their own streets and public areas.




The two entrances off Venice East Boulevard both connect to Lake of the Woods Boulevard, which winds through the community, describing a large circle. Lined with sidewalks, mature oak trees and palms, it offers attractive views of lakes, ponds and Mediterranean-style homes. Many of the properties abut the large nature preserve on the northern boundary, assuring residents that they will never have neighbors in back of them.

lakeof2The proximity to undeveloped land also brings a plethora of wildlife to the community. It’s not unusual to see river otters, bobcats and foxes traveling through backyards, and osprey fishing in the ponds. Wood stork, white ibis and sandhill cranes are frequent visitors, too.

The community developed in stages.

Originally a section of a large 1884 land grant given by the state of Florida to a railroad company, it later became part of the Jacaranda Public Utilities Development, created by the Gulfstream Development Corp.

During the construction of Lake of the Woods — now the oldest subdivision — the developers learned there already was an East Coast Florida community by that name. As a result, the whole neighborhood was incorporated in 1989 as “Lake of the Woods of Jacaranda.”

While building Lake of the Woods, which has 203 homes, Gulfstream experienced financial difficulties and declared bankruptcy, throwing the community into legal limbo. Around the same time, Park Estates, a small enclave of 76 homes, was built as a separate subdivision under the umbrella of the master community.

Eventually, Taylor Woodrow Communities bought the entire development and entered into an agreement with J & J Homes, a respected custom-home builder, to complete Lakes of Jacaranda, by far the largest section of the community. When that company in turn fell on hard times, Neal Communities built the final houses.

Five separate homeowners associations exist under the umbrella of a master HOA, including Grassy Oaks II and III in Lakes of Jacaranda, which have some maintenance-free residences. Fees covering both local and masters associations are relatively low — $542 a year for Lakes of Jacaranda, a little more for Parks Estates.

Beverly Weltzien has lived in Lakes of Jacaranda since 2001 and has served as president of its HOA.

She and her business partner, Robert Goldman, both Realtors with Michael Saunders & Co., have sold more than 10 properties there over the past year.

“It’s a lovely community with great vistas,” she said.

She particularly likes its friendly atmosphere and amenities.

“The community center is very utilitarian, attractive but not over the top,” she said.

The center includes tennis courts, a swimming pool and a large recreation room for activities and social functions, including monthly women’s coffee get togethers, Margaritaville parties, St. Patrick’s Day beer tastings and a Cinco de Mayo event.

Residents are a mix of retirees, snowbirds, professionals in their 40s and 50s, and families with children. They include retired professional athletes and a surprising number of authors.

The community is pet-friendly, permitting cats and dogs of any size.

“Right before Christmas, we have a parade, and many of the dogs are decorated,” Weltzien said.

Other amenities are nearby, including golf courses, stores and restaurants. Access to Interstate 75 and downtown Venice is easy.

“You can bike to the public library through another community, and a lot of people do that,” she said.

Another unusual aspect of Lake of the Woods of Jacaranda is its Disaster Preparedness Plan, which was approved by the master HOA in 2007 to respond to emergencies such as hurricanes. The clubhouse is a command center with its own generator. The community has since been recognized by the Sarasota County Emergency Management office for its outstanding contribution to the Stormwise Neighborhood Program.

Appealing and affordable, Lake of the Woods of Jacaranda is a popular community.

According to Goldman, inventory remains extremely low.

“We get calls all the time from people who are waiting for homes to become available,” he said. “Homes don’t stay on the market very long.”

Since the beginning of 2013, 56 homes were sold in the five subdivisions, ranging from $205,000 to $370,000. The median time on the market was 41 days.

Currently, only 12 homes are listed as active, ranging in from $255,000 to $399,000. Four sales are pending.

“If someone wants a community with an attractive environment, a mature tree line and low fees, this is it,” Goldman said.


Last modified: March 14, 2014
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