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First look: New development west of Wellington has community farm, 1-mile lake

After years of planning and construction just west of Lion Country Safari, the public finally got a look at the groundwork for the massive, nature-focused Arden development Saturday.

Arden, projected to be 2,000 homes in 10 years, is celebrating the opening of its first neighborhood and taking reservations for homes. The development claims it will be like no other in Palm Beach County.

Among the unique features:

  • Nearly every home will back up to a park, greenway or nature trail.
  • A mile-long lake will be in the center of the property.
  • Residents will share in the harvest of fresh vegetables from a community farm.

Ryan Homes, headquartered in Reston, Va., is building about 200 homes in the first phase and will start as soon as the contracts are signed from the interested homeowners. They already have 24 lot reservations for the homes, priced from the $300,000s for the Artisan Collection to the $400,000s for the Homestead Collection.

READ: 2,000-home, agriculture-based community to open near Wellington

For Freehold Communities — the Arden developers — the unveiling of the model homes and landscaping is a mix of nervous energy and excitement.

“It’s kind of like having a baby,” said Freehold’s Southeast Division President Andy Smith. “You hope it’s pretty when it comes out.”

A monthly $246 homeowner’s association fee will cover landscape maintenance, a community clubhouse and crops from the community farm.

Arden’s theme is “Old Florida,” Smith said, emphasizing nature. Green spaces, the lake and 19 miles of walking and running trails are all in the community.

READ: Five next big things for Wellington

They only planted a handful of palm trees, opting for a more genuine look with native Florida trees such as oaks.

One of the most recognizable features is the mile-long lake. They set up all the stop signs so drivers will look out over the lake in the middle.

For now, all children will attend Wellington schools, zoned for Binks Forest Elementary School, Wellington Landings Middle School and Wellington High School. The district looks at possible changes to school zoning every year, so Smith said they can’t guarantee those schools long term. They have dedicated land to build a school within the community, but there are no plans for that yet.

READ: How three projects on Southern Boulevard could change your commute

There are also no plans nor even talk of trying to incorporate Arden, which is what Westlake did to become the Palm Beach County’s most recent municipality.

“We have a pretty good working relationship with the county and we intend to continue that,” he said.

The county is also already preparing for Arden’s arrival with road projects, specifically on Southern Boulevard.

The road is expected to be widened from four lanes to six lanes west of Crestwood/Forest Hill to the entrance of Arden. That project is slated for 2018 and expected to cost $46.3 million.

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