|Taylor Morrison Inspired Living|
By Sue Cullen
Brisk sales in communities spanning from Bradenton to Venice bear witness to the sparkle Taylor Morrison has added to the area’s new home market. Displaying an array of well-appointed new homes designed to appeal to today’s buyer has helped Taylor Morrison spark the excitement that was sorely missed while the real estate market languished.
How lovely it is to walk into a new model home once again and feel the lift of the heart that acknowledges one has entered truly beautiful surroundings. That sense of pleasure is unmistakable when entering Taylor Morrison’s newest model, the 3,600-square-foot Umbria in the Camargo neighborhood of Country Club East in Lakewood Ranch. Stepping through the front door, high ceilings and an open floor plan give an expansive feel while a wall of oversized glass pocket sliders offers a sweeping view past a large pool with its enticing sun shelf and spa to the golf course beyond.
As attractive as the view is – the course was designed by the internationally renowned golf course and landscape architect Rick Robbins – the eye is quickly drawn to exquisitely executed details like the stone wall in the family room and the living room’s coffered ceiling and built-in display shelves that surround the gas fireplace and whose mirrored backs bathe the room in reflected light. It is not surprising that the Umbria floor plan is an adaptation of an award-winning plan from Taylor Morrison’s Ladera community that earned Best in Category in a Tampa area Parade of Homes.
“With the Umbria model, we wanted to showcase what Taylor Morrison can do in the luxury market. It is a very functional floor plan, and the home is filled with luxurious touches,” said Cammie Longénecker, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “What stood out for the judges was the kitchen, where even the most discerning chef can cook and still have plenty of room for guests to socialize. The spacious 1,000 square foot lanai with its covered outdoor kitchen and multiple seating areas also was particularly noted.”
As much as the home lends itself to entertaining, meticulous attention has been paid to private spaces as well. Wide double doors open the den/office space to the living room at the hub of the house or can be closed if uninterrupted, productive time is required. The model also has a bonus “get away” room adjacent to the lanai, which can be used as a media/game room or a quiet retreat for family and guests to enjoy beautiful backyard or golf course views. The master bedroom also is designed as a serene haven with lanai access. His and hers amenities make the suite extremely functional with separate closets, double sink vanity with granite countertops, an oversized garden tub, and a separate shower and water closet.
The Umbria was designed with both seasonal and fulltime residents in mind. Three guest bedrooms, located in a wing separate from the master bedroom, accommodate visiting family and friends or a growing family. A Jack and Jill bathroom allows everyone the access needed to be ready on time for school or a night out. The third bedroom has its own bath. “The idea is to promote togetherness, functionality and livability. That’s what people are looking for these days rather than just picture perfect rooms,” Longénecker said. “Even though the Umbria has a separate living room, it really is like having two family rooms in the home.” The interior design is traditional with a contemporary feel, and draws its color palate from the earthy, harmonious hues of Tuscany.
Umbria homes are priced from $555,700, and the model is located at 14805 Camargo Place in Country Club East. The area retains its lush appearance and serene natural setting with pristine preserves, lakes and wetlands in keeping with Lakewood Ranch’s commitment to creating green communities. It is the nation’s largest master planned green community. All homes within the Ranch are built to the Florida Green Building Coalition’s standards for energy efficiency, clean indoor air, sustainability, and drought-resistant landscaping.
Country Club East was designed as a live-work-play community. While it may be hard to tear oneself away from these lovely homes, the neighborhood allows easy access to a variety of shopping, dining and recreational activities. In addition to the 18-hole Rick Robbins-designed golf course, the clubhouse features a resort-style pool and cabana area. Residents may also choose to join the nearby Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. Taylor Morrison is getting ready to unveil another model in Country Club East’s Haddington neighborhood. “This model is smaller than the Umbria, but will definitely captivate homebuyers with its potential for great indoor/outdoor living,” Longénecker says. “Without giving away too much, I’ll just say I think people will love the extensive outdoor bar area and fireplace.”
Longénecker’s assurance that homebuyers will love the features built into Taylor Morrison’s wide array of area homes, which range in price from mid-$100,000 to more than $500,000, has to do with the company’s stature. Based on 2011 revenues, the company is North America’s largest U.S.-based, privately owned homebuilder as reported by Hanley Wood, whose publications focus on the construction industry. “We hear what homebuyers are dreaming about for their homes, and we are constantly incorporating those dream features into our plans,” she said. “That’s why our tagline is, ‘Homes inspired by you.’”
“Today’s homebuyers are continuing to be inspired by the trend to “jewel box” homes,” Longénecker says. “We see many discerning buyers who understand they could purchase a 3,000 square foot home, but prefer to buy a 2,500 square foot home and really deck it out as a true reflection of themselves.” Buyers also love the idea of having a casita. “We usually think of large estates having a casita,” she said, “but people like extending their living space outdoors with casitas attached to the house. It’s like having an extra room.”
An example of that is seen in the Lazio floor plan that Taylor Morrison is building in the Esplanade, which is a short drive north of Country Club East and also in Lakewood Ranch. The Lazio offers an optional large casita incorporating an outdoor kitchen and fireplace. Esplanade is designed for those who enjoy an active lifestyle. It is the only community in the region that has a full time activities director who organizes activities and social gatherings for residents. “I tell people to think of it like camp for adults. Everything is planned for you, and you just have to show up and enjoy,” Longénecker said. “People can participate as much or as little as they like, but they seem to really enjoy the idea because neighbors already have had several meet and greets, and their homes aren’t even finished yet.”
The active lifestyle component seems to have struck a chord with buyers who also are taken with Taylor Morrison’s three distinct collections of single-family homes and villas available from the low $200,000s. The sales center just opened in January, and phase one is already more than 50 percent sold. The community’s resort-style amenities, which are slated to be finished in the first quarter of 2013, feature a heated, lagoon-style and lap pool, spa, and resistance pool. An outdoor fire pit is perfect for gathering around on cool evenings, and a formal events lawn, miles of walking trails, and Pickleball and Bocce courts offer daytime diversions. The clubhouse will house a gathering room, fitness center, private library, catering kitchen, a billiards room with library, a card and crafts room, and a covered lanai.
Recognizing that pets have become an important part of our lives, Taylor Morrison is building a private bark park in Esplanade, and also in its gated Verona Reserve neighborhood in Venice. While the dogs romp in the fenced park, their owners can socialize in the covered seating areas. Watering stations ensure the pooches stay hydrated. Verona Reserve offers a maintenance-free lifestyle and a clubhouse featuring a gathering room, complete fitness center and picturesque lagoon-style swimming pool surrounded by an expansive deck and cabana area. Convenience is the byword for this community of single-family homes and Parade-of-Homes award-winning attached villas located just off the roundabout at Jacaranda Boulevard and Venice Avenue. A new Publix shopping center anchors the community’s entry, making it easy to zip to the store by bike or golf cart. Residents are just 5 minutes from downtown and additional shopping and a short hop from I-75. Home prices start from the high $100,000s.
A brand-new, intimate development of just 95 single-family homes has broken ground off of Lockwood Ridge Road in Southern Manatee County. The land currently is being developed for Arbor Reserve, and a model home is expected to be complete in early 2013. “We are developing Arbor Reserve with families in mind with its easy access to Sarasota, Bradenton and I-75 along with its proximity to some top-rated schools,” Longénecker said, “but it works just as well for the retiree or seasonal owner. It has great amenities planned and the fees are low.” The neighborhood provides an extremely picturesque setting with home views of lakes and the area’s natural beauty. Amenities will include a pool, cabana, gazebo, playground and sports court.
Feature-filled homes and amenity-rich neighborhoods have been luring wait-and-see buyers. Sales at Taylor Morrison are up 20 percent this year compared with revenues at this time last year, and traffic at its models is up 25 percent anticipating even greater demand to come. “People are starting to see that the bottom is in their rear view mirrors, and with prices hovering at very affordable levels and historically low interest rates, it really is the perfect time to buy,” Longénecker said. Taylor Morrison’s enviable sales success can be credited to its people. “It really is our people who make all the difference. You can’t build beautifully designed, quality homes with exceptional value without the best, most accomplished staff in the industry,” she says. “Their dedication to the homes and communities we build means that we confidently stand behind our homes and offer customer service recognized for excellence throughout the building industry.”