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Neighborhod Profile: Panther Ridge, Manatee County


While Cale and Terri Chamberlin had no experience owning horses, their daughters — Madi, 13, and Lindsay, 11 — had plenty of experience riding them at nearby stables.

It's the main reason they moved to Panther Ridge, a 4,500-acre equestrian community of almost 1,000 homes on 1- to 16-acre sites — east of and contiguous to Lakewood Ranch — which is where the Chamberlins lived before moving here in 2010.

Later that year, Madi and Lindsay got a horse and a pony for Christmas. "We dreamed of having our own horses at home. We still love it a year later," Cale said.

The only one in the family not caught up in the horse hoopla is the youngest, 9-year-old Caden. What did he think when he saw his sisters' horses in the newly completed barn? "I was happy for them; not happy for me," he said with a grin.

While Caden may not ride horses, the wide open spaces give him plenty of room for his favorite pastime: hitting baseballs with his dad. "When we lived in Lakewood Ranch, he dented siding and broke windows, one with a golf ball," Cale said.

No more.

Real estate agent Ronnie DeWitt, a horse owner and resident of Panther Ridge herself, said the emphasis of Panther Ridge is about being outdoors, not about being at a country club. There are several parks with tennis courts. One even has a fitness trail. About half the parcels are suitable for horses, she said.

But the upscale community realizes that some of its residents are interested in joining a country club, so homeowner association fees are kept low — $500 to $1,200 a year — so that residents looking for a golf course or a community swimming pool can join one of the nearby clubs.

There aren't many homes for sale but buyers who can find one can get it at a bargain price, DeWitt said. She said she recently sold a 13-acre parcel of land for $90,000; a house with a pool on 5 acres sold for $300,000; and that a house that sold for more than $1 million a couple of years ago was recently purchased for $500,000.

Patti Ewald is a freelance writer living in Gulfport. You can reach her at

The Chamberlins

The home: 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, 4,000 square feet, plus a 3-car garage and 3-stall horse barn on 8 acres

When bought: July 2010

Current value (from $534,600

Unusual features about the house: It has two owners' suites on opposite sides of the house downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. A large bonus room gives the upstairs its own "family room" area. There is a 72- by 30-foot three-stall horse barn — constructed in a way so that it can be expanded if desired — with a tack room, pavers, a garage and ceiling fans. The family room, located in the center as you walk in, has a soaring ceiling and leads to the pool through a wall of glass sliders that store in the wall.

Why they like living here: "It's one of the only equestrian communities in the area," Terri Chamberlin said. "We were lucky to find this much property and be able to stay in the same school district," Cale Chamberlin said.

Facts about Panther Ridge

Water is free. Residents have to obey watering limits, but they don't have to pay for the water, which comes from an aquifer.

• 15 miles of horse trails wind through Panther Ridge.

• The fire hydrants in the community draw water from nearby ponds.

• Panther Ridge is on a ridge, from about 70 to 90 feet above sea level. None of it is in a flood zone.

Who lives in Panther Ridge? Half are families and half are young empty-nesters (50- to 60-year-olds).

Where do Panther Ridge residents work? About a third own their own business, a third work in Lakewood Ranch and another third commute, mainly to Tampa or St. Petersburg.

Neighborhod Profile: Panther Ridge, Manatee County 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 3:30am]
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