Welcoming North Port's newest attraction

Ribbon-cutting for the new Wellen Park Welcome Center was Wednesday in North Port. The site is intended as an introduction to the housing and commercial enclave, as well as directing visitors to attractions, businesses and services, said Rick Severance (holding scissors), Wellen Park president. The center will also feature local artists at its Inspire kiosk, as well as other visual and cultural attractions. Wellen Park is the nation’s third quickest growing planned community, Severance noted in his remarks welcoming local dignitaries. The center at 12275 Mercado Drive opened to the public on Nov. 2.

WELLEN PARK — Wellen Park opened its Welcome Center officially this week.

The 5,000-square-foot site is next to the Marketplace plaza along U.S. 41 in West Villages.

According to a news release, “the sleek and energized building offers informational and social gathering areas for people to enjoy and learn more about Wellen Park.”

Wellen Park is the third-fastest-selling master-planned community in the U.S., the news release notes.

“The Welcome Center is a tangible experience of the Wellen Park brand, creating opportunity for community connection and exploration,” Wellen Park President Rick Severance said in the news release. “We’re already experiencing increased demand from future residents who recognize that Wellen Park has everything they’re looking for. With our Welcome Center, we anticipate even more interest as people visit and get a sense of what our lifestyle and amenities have to offer.”

It includes an Apé, which is a mini three-wheeled Italian truck retrofitted as a reception desk as a “conversation-starter”

“The Apé is a must-see,” Severance said. “It represents a beautiful and comforting way for our visitors to interact with our ambassadors.”

Next to the Apé, an electric bicycle display “serves as a story-telling area for Wellen Park’s extensive trail and pathway network,” the news release states. “An additional 25 miles of trails is being added to the existing 18-mile trail network, including a 2.7-mile path encircling Downtown Wellen’s 80-acre lake that is currently under excavation.”


An adjoining coffee, wine and craft beer cafe named Barrel & Bean is next to it.

“Barrel & Bean offers Venetian Coffee Roasters coffee and pastries in the morning, sandwiches and paninis for lunch, and small plates, wine and craft beer for happy hour and dinner,” it said. “The intimate concept restaurant features creatively inspired plates by executive chef Mike Leopold, local craft beer from 3 Bridges and a rotating wine list. Barrel & Bean is operated by OTW Restaurant Group, which also owns Irma’s Tacos in the adjacent Marketplace shopping center.”

Wellen Park officials note that it “encompasses the West Villages, Playmore and Downtown Wellen Districts,” and “offers a vibrant mix of residential, commercial and recreational options.”

“The community’s brand and vision are rooted in wellness,” it said. “Wellen Park’s wellness focus is holistic and practical, designed to give residents greater opportunities to connect with one another, take care of themselves and encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, all within an inclusive, genuine community vibe.”

New neighborhoods under construction include Playmore District, which will have about 2,300 homesites along with a golf course; and the 175-acre Downtown Wellen, which will include an apartment complex and assisted living community along with space for a future hotel, the news release stated.

“Downtown Wellen will include a vibrant hub filled with shopping, dining, entertainment and other amenities,” it said. “The multi-use development will be open to residents and visitors alike and feature waterfront experiences, pedestrian-friendly streets and public community spaces. Phase One of Downtown Wellen, which will include retail shops; waterfront dining and other restaurants; a town hall; a kids’ playground and splash pad; a food truck kiosk area; and an outfitter equipped with e-bikes, paddle boards and kayaks to enjoy the active lake, is expected to open in the second quarter of 2022.”

It already included CoolToday Park in what is now deemed part of the Playmore District.

For more information, visit www.wellenpark.com or stop by the Welcome Center at 12275 Mercado Drive, Venice. It is open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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