Posted: Apr 07, 2016 8:22 PM EDTUpdated: Apr 07, 2016 8:26 PM EDT
By Emily Burris, Weekend Anchor
Southwest Florida is growing.
In recent weeks, Collier County leaders have discussed a booming population that could reach more than 1 million in the next 75 years. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than the major communities under construction east of Interstate 75.
The town center of Ave Maria is now the heart of an entire community built from the ground up.
On any given day, crowds can be seen visiting the church, museum, or shopping and dining. Twice a week, all season long, curious visitors boarded trolleys to see the community. They're not the only ones taking notice.
Homebuyers Iike Barbara Harley and her husband discovered Ave Maria when they began their search for a place to retire on the East coast of Florida.
"Walked into a real estate company in Weston," she explained, "We were looking for something quiet."
Diana Ibarria is the Senior Vice President of CC Devco Homes' Naples Division. She's seen the affordability of Ave Maria bring in lots of interested buyers.
"A typical home here that would cost $300,000 is $700,000 on the East coast," Ibarria explained.
With homes at half the cost of higher-priced areas like Naples and Miami, builders here say they sell a new home about every other day. Unlike many other parts of Southwest Florida, these buyers are relatively local.
"The majority of our buyers are coming from Collier county," Ibarria said, "but we have about 30% coming from the East Coast - Southeast Florida, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami - and then we get about 25% from out of state."
Realtors say the area is in high demand for both families and retirees looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the state's tourism-driven coast.
Ibarria says while the community is less than a decade old, it has a "quaint, old-fashioned" feel - with an appealing price tag.
"You get a lot for your money here," Harley agreed.
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