With Kirk Boylston, president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, among the structures that will make up the new Waterside Place entertainment center in Lakewood Ranch, you might think the conversation would focus on potential restaurants and taverns.
But no, Boylston was seething with enthusiasm for something else.
âWe’re going to have this island wading pool that will be the best wading pool in the world,â Boylston said, his enthusiasm overflowing. “It’s a circular room that you walk on and the water rises.”
It was May 21 and the temperature was in the 90s, so Boylston might have been a little overheated, but his point was understood. In every direction he looked he could find something he could expect to see, use or taste.
âThis will be a special place,â said Boylston, who has agreed to tour the site with Tom Johnson, Lakewood Ranch Commercial’s marketing and leasing coordinator, with about a year to go.
Last October, the site had not yet been developed vertically. Now, however, Waterside Place’s footprint is mostly visible.
Boylston and Johnson walked down Stellar Street and Halcyon Trail – the names given to main streets in Waterside Place – and talked about inbound restaurants and businesses. Among the restaurants by the water, and there will be several, there will be one or two with a beer garden concept. Beach volleyball will likely be played along the shore of Kingfisher Lake.
While Lakewood Ranch Commercial, a subsidiary of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, has signed 10 contracts for space at Waterside Place, Boylston and Johnson say they have many other deals underway. Johnson said he was not pushing anyone to sign a deal about a year after the project was completed out of respect for what businesses are going through during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Johnson said he still had interested restaurateurs and business owners visiting the site every week.
âWe are extremely picky,â Boylston said. “We want the best at what they do if they come to our community. We have something here that no one has.”
Waterside Place has a hub built almost entirely along the shore of a 280 acre lake. It will be surrounded by 1,400 apartments and will have a marina and a water taxi service that will serve owners all around the lake.
The project started on October 4, 2018 and is expected to be only one month behind its originally scheduled completion in February 2021, despite the pandemic.
âWe haven’t had any significant delays,â Boylston said. “People were worried that the farms wouldn’t show up. It didn’t happen. We also had no problem getting the workers out here. All the companies that signed up are still on board.”
At the opening of Waterside Place, Boylston said it would be fair to say that around 50% of restaurants, offices and stores will be open. He said some of the larger restaurants will need more time to complete more complex constructions.
Originally, a food hall was planned for Waterside Place, but this has been replaced with smaller pods that will be attached to either side of the freestanding restaurant buildings. Companies such as Crop Juice, which has signed on, will occupy these places for people walking the main streets.
All site amenities and landscaping will be in place by next April.
âWe’ve planned how we’re going to organize the pavers, how we’re going to stain all the wood, what the light fixtures will be, how the WiFi system will work and what the public trash cans will look like,â Boylston said.
Then there is the water park on the island.
The fabricated bridge (pedestrian bridge) is ready to go and just needs to be delivered to contact Waterside Place on the island.
Expect to see Boylston as one of the first to cross this bridge.
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