Wildwood Rising

Trailwinds Village, a large-scale mixed-use development, may be a sign of things to come in the growing city.

The right plan finally came along, and a dormant piece of property in Wildwood now is a hot commodity.

The Trailwinds Village development is slowly starting to rise on 165 acres on the north side of County Road 466A in Wildwood, in between U.S. Highway 301 and Buena Vista Boulevard.

It’s a mixed-use project, so Trailwinds Village will provide a little bit of everything for residents and visitors: big-box stores, retail shops, a supermarket, multi-family residential and senior housing, office and medical space, possibly a hotel, plus all the complementary businesses, such as restaurants, banks, and gas stations, that typically accompany a commercial center.

“It’s a large development but also a model development for what we would like to see developed, hopefully, in the future in Wildwood,” says Melanie Peavy, the city’s director of development services.

Commissioner Joe Elliott, left, Development Services Director Melanie Peavy, and Mayor Ed Wolf at the Trailwinds Village site. Photo: Fred Lopez

Lowe’s Home Improvement, an Aldi discount supermarket, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, and a Circle K convenience store and gas station were the first commercial companies to sign on with Trailwinds Village, says Jerry Hart, partner of development for Barclay Group, the Palm Harbor-based real estate firm that is developing the site.

While the development is adjacent to The Villages, the city of Wildwood is coming out from the shadow of its high-profile neighbor with this project. Mayor Ed Wolf says Trailwinds Village is the largest mixed-use project the city has had control over and the first to be built completely to the city’s own design standards—Brownwood Paddock Square, also in Wildwood, was The Villages’ brainchild.

The property was considered a prime spot for development since at least 2005, Ed says, but sat vacant.

Barclay Group had an existing relationship with property owner Tommy Word of Word Family LLC in Gainesville. The owner tried several times unsuccessfully to develop the site, and asked Barclay for help, Jerry says. They started from scratch about three years ago.

Since then, Barclay Group and the city have been “working together very well to create a high-end and quality development for the city of Wildwood. The city has been great to work with,” Jerry says.

Trailwinds Village will be an “economic engine” and help residents and other businesses reap the benefits of the growth taking place in Wildwood, says Joe Elliott, who came aboard the City Commission this year.

To thrive, any community needs jobs, an educated workforce, and housing, he says. Trailwinds Village will check off two of those items, providing hundreds of jobs in retail and health care, along with multi-family housing.

“You get those three things, and it brings benefits to everybody,” Joe adds.

Ed marveled at the long-term potential of Trailwinds Village.

“You can imagine the ad valorem taxes on the property, the employment opportunities, the additional shopping and restaurants,” he says. “It’s very exciting to see what’s going on.”

Construction across the site was expected to speed up this summer, Melanie says.

Barclay Group’s conceptual site plan shows 19 commercial lots plus office/medical space, totaling 724,250 square feet.

The first of three expected major anchors is Lowe’s, which started construction in the spring on a 105,259-square-foot store. The city also approved plans for an 11,760-square-foot retail building initially called Trailwinds Shoppes West, though the name is expected to change, and the developer is proposing a second small retail center as well, Jerry says.

He also confirmed Barclay Group will develop Legacy Lifestyles Senior Housing, an assisted-living facility, on the eastern portion of the site. The number of beds has not been determined. The east side also will likely include medical pads or parcels developed by Barclay Group and then sold as individual lots, Jerry says.

The site plan calls for a hotel fronting the assisted-living facility on County Road 466A, but that’s not definite, Jerry says. Similarly, plans for 21 acres in the northwest section of the property—designated for eight apartment buildings totaling 288 units—were still in flux this summer. A large site earmarked for a three-story indoor storage facility was being looked at by several interested groups for mini-storage use, he says.

The cost to develop the infrastructure, which includes roads connecting all the parcels, was $12 million, Jerry says. In addition, Barclay Group also funded a $1.8 million sewer line improvement needed for the project.

The city is “thankful” and “excited” to see Trailwinds Village coming out of the ground, Melanie says. In 2007, the city implemented new design district standards to maintain consistency in the level of quality of new construction, she says.

“As The Villages is coming closer, we still want to keep our identity but not have a drop-off in [design] quality as you come into Wildwood,” Melanie says. “Trailwinds is the first development to meet our standards in every way, including signage and site development and landscaping.”

The project is evidence that high standards can be met without discouraging businesses from investing in the community, she says, and that bodes well for the future.

Joe, the city commissioner, is excited about Wildwood’s future.

“Wildwood is going to experience phenomenal growth in the next five years. I look at it from the standpoint that the growth is going to come regardless of what Wildwood does (to an extent),” Joe says. “The challenge for Wildwood is how do we control the growth in a way that benefits residents and small businesses in the city? I see significant work [ahead] on the part of the city.”

Trailwinds Village appears to be a good start.