Photo: Fred Lopez
With new homes being built in the historic neighborhoods of The Villages, current homeowners are opting to remodel or renovate to join the move to upgrade.
Story by Chris Gerbasi
As new houses pop up around them, many homeowners living on the historic side of The Villages want to do their part for the renaissance of the community.
Home remodeling projects, both large and small, can be spotted throughout the villages of Orange Blossom Gardens, Silver Lake, and Country Club Hills.
Gio Milano labored in his backyard through much of the recent holidays. In December, he and a construction company started a large patio for his house on Heathrow Avenue, overlooking Lone Oak Lake.
When Gio and his partner, Tina Crispi, moved in to the site-built house in 2013, he immediately went to work remodeling the interior from “floor to ceiling and wall to wall,” he says. The house was built in 1992 and needed upgrades to virtually every area. He revamped the kitchen and bathrooms, and put in hardwood floors.
Photo: Fred Lopez
So, he’s used to getting his hands dirty. The couple’s new patio will cover 10-by-40 feet, with a large sliding door entrance from the house, screening all the way around and a roof extending from the house, resulting in a beautiful view of the lake and its island with one lone oak.
“It’s going to be a nice little place to entertain,” Gio says.
Most of the houses on Lone Oak Lake have patios or decks, as neighbors have followed each other with home improvements.
“Everybody seems to be improving as we go,” Gio says. “We’re not keeping up with the Joneses, but we like to keep our homes improving and looking nice.”
In fact, Gio calls Heathrow “the prettiest street in Orange Blossom Gardens,” with the lake on one side and a golf course on the other.
In nearby Silver Lake one recent afternoon, construction workers were busy with roofs, garages, driveways, and additions at various houses.
Homeowner Donald A. Jones monitored the progress of a patio addition at his Tarrson Boulevard residence, where he and his wife Christine recently relocated from another street in the neighborhood.
The worker at the house, from a local construction company, happened to mention that he’s done five to 10 remodeling upgrades to mobile homes in the area in the past six months.
The Joneses’ project includes expanding an 8-by-10-foot area into a full patio enclosed with glass windows, and adding a new walkout with bannisters extending from the back door of their 1986 manufactured home.
“We did a lot of work,” Donald says, adding he hopes the nearly $15,000 cost will be worth it.
Coincidentally, next door to the Jones house is a vacant lot, the former site of an old manufactured home purchased by The Villages developer to make way for one of many new site-built houses on the historic side.
The new houses not only enhance the look of the neighborhoods, but also apparently spur other homeowners to action. Gio says he might not have bothered to invest in a new patio if some homes in Orange Blossom Gardens had remained neglected.
“I think it’s great that they’re building new homes in the area and making the area look pretty,” Gio says. “They’re doing a nice job correcting that situation. The new homes revitalize the area. It’s a big plus. The neighborhood’s blossoming.”