This year’s Parade of Homes was just a shadow of what it used to be, with many models several years old and not much new to look at. There is a trend, though—smaller homes with big, fancy-home touches. Our home editor and Retail Therapy blogger, Carol Tisch, has an article about this in our upcoming April issue, but I also want to throw in my two cents.
They have a new development out at Lakewood Ranch called Central Park, and even though it’s very generic and a little closely packed for my taste, they have finally done what I have been hoping somebody would do for years—build a small, inexpensive house that suggests a McMansion inside, but on a tiny scale. By that I mean it has things like a particularly nice master suite and fancy master bath, high ceilings—many coffered and trayed, lots of windows, imaginative layouts, big, well-integrated kitchens, cute little dens and lanais, entrance foyers—all for well under $200,000.
Inside Neal's Freedom 2 model.
The one to beat is the Freedom 2 model by Neal Communities, with 1,305 square feet, two or three bedrooms, two baths, two-car garage. It starts at $154,900. Let me reiterate: From the outside, these homes don’t look like much. But inside they are amazingly pleasant.
Other models start at $132,900, and you can go up to $300,000. I personally preferred the Neal models, but the ones by Bruce Williams were also quite nice.
As for Central Park, it’s at the northern edge of Lakewood Ranch, near the Y and the high school. It’s a little inconvenient for downtown, but nowadays lots of people work out in that area, and you have the prestige of living in Lakewood Ranch. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new wave of smaller—yet still kind of fancy—homes.