Lake County is set to undergo a monumental transformation with the introduction of a groundbreaking development that promises far more than just the construction of residential properties. Known as Wellness Way, this ambitious project aims to establish the region as a thriving hub for cutting-edge technology and high-paying job opportunities, all while prioritizing the promotion of health and fitness.
Spanning an impressive 15,000 acres, Wellness Way is being constructed southeast of Clermont and west of S.R. 429, near the picturesque Lake Louisa State Park. The development has been in the works for over a decade and is poised to bring about a significant metamorphosis in what was once a predominantly rural area.
During an exclusive tour of his 120-acre property along Schofield Road, David Hill, the owner of Southern Hill Farms, provided News 6 with valuable insight into the region’s evolution. Hill’s U-Pick farm, which he purchased 25 years ago when it was nothing more than a desolate orange grove, has since been transformed into a flourishing landscape teeming with blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and seasonal vegetables.
Hill reminisced about the past, stating, “We have three 40-acre blocks between Schofield Road and Five Mile Road. This was out in the middle of nowhere. You could see nothing but rolling hills. No one ever came this way, ever.”
As Wellness Way takes shape, Hill is preparing to welcome thousands of new residents to his family-owned farm. However, he has already witnessed noticeable changes, including a significant influx of vehicles. Hill remarked, “When Schofield was a dirt road, and we’d have our Fall Festival sold out, the cars would be kind of like that coming to the farm. Now they’re like this every waking hour.”
Lake County, one of Florida’s fastest-growing counties, currently boasts a population of approximately 400,000. With the advent of Wellness Way, local leaders anticipate an additional 75,000 residents by 2030, making it a pivotal catalyst for growth in the region.
While the majority of homes within the community are yet to be constructed, both the county and state have been diligently working to fortify the region’s infrastructure. Mary Ellen Stern, Lake County’s executive director of economic growth, acknowledged the challenges presented by the sheer scale of the project, stating, “Part of the challenge is the vastness. Until recently, we haven’t had a road network that’s been needed for growth and development. We haven’t had the infrastructure, like water, sewer, etc.”
Among the highly anticipated transportation projects is the Lake-Orange Connector, also known as S.R. 516, which will connect S.R. 429 to U.S. 27. This 4.4-mile expressway will feature a dedicated charging lane for electric vehicles, enabling drivers to charge their cars while on the move. Construction on S.R. 516 is scheduled to commence in the coming months, with a targeted completion date of 2027.
As progress continues to reshape the region, Hill reflects on the changes occurring at Southern Hill Farms, stating, “You lose the farm ambiance, but we’ll get used to it. It’s progress. It’s not just coming; it’s here. It would be foolish to try and run from it, so we’re going to embrace it as best we can.”
With Lake County on the brink of a transformative journey, the arrival of Wellness Way heralds a new era of technological advancements, economic prosperity, and a renewed commitment to health and wellness. As construction progresses and the community takes shape, the region is poised to become a shining example of sustainable growth and innovation.
You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below.
Copyright 2024 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.