Construction has begun on The Preserve, a new manufactured home development just over the county line in DeSoto County east of Kings Highway.

“We are a new community just going in the ground right now,” said manager Jim Hatcher.

The age-restricted community will be for people 55 and over, or at least 80% of households must have someone at least that age to maintain a restriction against children, according to federal regulations.

The 515-acre property was named Sonoma Preserve, although it is zoned for development. The county approved the site as a planned unit development in 2018.

Phase one is under construction now and will include 135 lots as well as a club house, Hatcher said. The developer expects to be finished with phase one within two years after which it will begin phase 2, Hatcher said.

Plans filed with DeSoto County show the developer plans to keep 47% of the land as preserved open space although DeSoto’s land use regulations only required them to keep 25% in preserve. The developer is Sunshine State Developers, Hatcher said, and they have built more than 30 communities in Florida.

“We’re working around preserve areas, which are sensitive areas where we cannot put anything in,” Hatcher said. “Around 60 to 70% of our home sites will be on preserve or water.”

Ultimately, the project is authorized for up to 923 lots that would be built in four phases according to the project website. The first phase is nearest the entrance on Kings Highway. Most of the development does not have frontage on that highway, however, and will have its own internal roads.

Hatcher said he is taking deposits now for lots. In four to six weeks, he said, there should be a center of home models for people to look at. Basic home prices will range from $79,900 to $200,000, he said. In addition, residents will pay lots fees of $495 to $695 a month.

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