Both here in Lake Nona and in cities around the country, the difference between creating developments and creating community is one you can feel. Planners across the country struggle to understand trends and strike the right balance as individuals and families across generations and demographics are looking for different options for work, life and amenities.
To date, Lake Nona’s vision and growth has attracted the attention of community builders from across the nation and around the world. As the first phases focused on adding signature job centers and establishing a strong single-family infrastructure, today Lake Nona is at a transition point, gradually emerging as a fully formed, diverse city within a city.
To accomplish that, says Ralph Ireland, Vice President of Development Operations at Tavistock Development Company, Lake Nona seeks to give current and future residents a multitude of options for enjoying the Lake Nona lifestyle. “That’s because we’re trying to build a real city here. A real city doesn’t just cater to one segment of people.”
In development circles, current trends for community building surround “innovative placemaking,” or creating an experience and a unique, comfortable sense of space. “The best places right now, especially with retail, are those places where you just want to be there,” Ireland says, citing Lake Nona’s Canvas Restaurant & Market as an example. “You could argue that where I live, I want to have that same experience. It’s about what environment I’m in.”
Similarly, striking a “neo-urban balance” is also a current aim of community building, wherein individuals are increasingly looking to tighten the gap between where they want to live, play and work. More and more, this is a cross-generational movement that requires housing options beyond Lake Nona’s established single-family. Next steps include more diverse offerings such as the urban-styled Landon House and developing projects that will further blur the lines between residential and public spaces. These modern examples of residential placemaking look to benefit from projects like the Lake Nona Town Center expansion that merge dining, retail and public space into one community gathering point.
As families grow, the community offerings need to grow and adapt with them, ensuring extended family or the family core itself does not feel the need to move elsewhere to meet its needs. Lake Nona projects like the Gatherings, Lake Nona’s first 55+ community, will provide amenities and convenient living in a space residents can still own. And for those family members that may need some added assistance, housing options like Watercrest ensure quality care and independent living within the community.
Ireland says building a city where people genuinely want to be involves providing options because attracting and retaining a diverse range of voices helps build the community. “It’s providing a diversity of housing products for a diversity of people for a variety of needs,” Ireland says. “Any one person, depending on where they are in life and where they may transition in life, they really don’t need to go anywhere else.”
It is in creating that innovative placemaking and in understanding the needs of Lake Nona residents of all walks of life that a true community and city comes to life. And that is the goal of convening the best elements of these trends: to create a place where no matter where you are in life, you can find a place to call home and a reason to enjoy the life we’re creating in Lake Nona.