Make us your home page
Instagram

Once again The Villages is the fastest growing metro area in the U.S.

Golfcarts, some dressed up as Rolls Royces, are parked in front of The Old Playhouse movie theater at The Villages. For the third year in a row, the community of 119,000 residents is the fastest growing metro area in the United States. [Times (2012)]

Golfcarts, some dressed up as Rolls Royces, are parked in front of The Old Playhouse movie theater at The Villages. For the third year in a row, the community of 119,000 residents is the fastest growing metro area in the United States. [Times (2012)]

Have golf cart, will travel. At least to The Villages.

The retirement community in Central Florida famous for its souped-up golf carts once again was the nation's fastest growing metro area, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It was the third year in a row that the community of 119,000 residents had gotten the title of "fastest-growing" with a growth rate of 4.3 percent from July 2014 to July 2015.

"It's exciting to hear we are No. 1 again," said Sue Kelly, executive director of the Lady Lake Chamber Commerce in adjacent Lady Lake.

Most of the growth came from retirees moving to the community located northwest of Orlando, and 99 percent of the migration was from people who already live in the United States, according to the Census figures.

Kelly, who moved to the area in 1988, remembers when the area didn't even have a stop light, most people found jobs in other communities miles away and agriculture dominated the area. Now, the community has major chain restaurants, a hospital and locals can find work nearby. The area also has plenty of stoplights now for cars and golf carts, which are a dominant form of transportation in the golf-course saturated The Villages.

"Every time we turn around, we have something new," Kelly said. "We have become a community. We were always a community, but we were just a little village."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: The Villages provides a foundation for Republican candidates

Two other Florida metro areas were among the 10 fastest-growing cities in the United States in the past year. Cape Coral-Fort Myers had a growth rate of 3.3 percent, and Punta Gorda grew by 2.8 percent.

More than an eighth of the growth from migration in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area came from outside the United States, and the rest came from domestic migration. The metro area now stands at 702,000 residents.

Ninety-five percent of the migration growth in Punta Gorda in the past year came from domestic residents, and the rest came from people living outside the United States. Its population now stands at 173,000 residents.

Two Florida metro areas had among the nation's the largest population gains in pure numbers, not rates. South Florida grew by more than 75,000 residents, and metro Orlando gained an extra 60,000 residents. They were respectfully the 7th and 10th biggest gains in the nation. In Orlando, more than a third of the migration growth came from outside the United States. In South Florida, all the migration growth came from outside the United States since the metro area actually lost U.S.-born residents.

Census figures show that South Florida surpassed 6 million residents for the first time. It's the nation's eighth biggest metro area.

Nancy Stroud, a Boca Raton lawyer whose practice focuses on land use, said the milestone strengthens the need for smart growth and protections for the environment in South Florida.

"That means better funding and respect for the value of planning and regulation, including from the state level," Stroud said.

Once again The Villages is the fastest growing metro area in the U.S. 03/24/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. McMansions, state sewage order on tap at St. Petersburg City Council

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council is set Thursday to vote on two major issues: controversial zoning changes aimed at curbing big McMansion-style homes and a consent order with the state that will require St. Petersburg to fix its ailing sewage system.

    Two big, blocky homes on the 2300 block of Dartmouth, Ave N under construction in April. Several new homes under construction.
in St. Petersburg's Historic Kenwood Neighborhood are too big, residents complain. The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday is set to consider ordinances aimed at curbing the construction of big "McMansions." [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Tom James and wife, Mary, talk about their James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — As a child, businessman and philanthropist Tom James loved cowboy movies, an affinity that would later play out in a vast collection of Western art amassed over the years with his wife, Mary.

    Tom and Mary James at the site of the Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.
Photo courtesy of Raymond James
  3. A reliable Rick Scott ally, Pete Antonacci, named CEO of Enterprise Florida

    State Roundup

    Pete Antonacci, who last week made headlines when he advised scientists to stay in their lane rather than criticize his water agency's work on Everglades restoration, is getting a new job.

    Pete Antonacci, an attorney seen here in 2009, has served many roles for Gov. Rick Scott: general counsel, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District and now, CEO of Enterprise Florida.  [
COLIN HACKLEY | Special to the Times]
  4. Pinellas County budget on the rise thanks to high property values

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– After another year of growth, Pinellas County commissioners won't have to fight to pay for critical needs in the 2017-2018 budget.

    The Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday learned the first details of its $2.3 billion spending plan for next fiscal year, which includes funding for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Tampa Bay chefs go head to head and Disney Springs gets another James Beard winner

    Food & Dining

    Epic Chef Showdown: Feeding Tampa Bay

    In a shoulder-to-shoulder format cook-off competition, chefs from Parkshore Grill and Mise En Place strove Monday night to become the Epic Chef of Tampa Bay. In this course, using ramen as a mystery box ingredient.