Friday, February 27, 2009
Ave Maria, FL
After completing our visit to the Corkscrew Refuge, we decided to take a look at a new project going just a few miles to the south. It is the development of a new town out of whole cloth-so to speak. What started as the quest of the founder of Domino’s Pizza to build a new Roman Catholic University ended up with the founding of a completely new town with the university and a Roman Catholic Church as it centering point.
We learned that the planned town is located on 22, 000 acres of land that includes a large portion of the property for a nature preserve and the rest for a planned community centered on the church. This is not unlike the traditional European village of the middle ages. Surrounding the church is the village center with shops and housing located above. Spreading out from this center location are planned areas of housing developments. We drove into the “town” thru wide lined streets and observed the signs for these housing developments but saw few houses. The first thing to be seen as you approached the town center was the church on the skyline. Everything is new and shiny as the actual building process has only been going on for a few years. We took one of the many empty parking spots in the town center and wandered the streets.
It was a really strange feeling, like you were walking around a movie set. Many of the store fronts remained empty, but we stopped at a lunch place and enjoyed a pleasant meal in the outdoors. As we were finishing lunch a very long golf cart pulled up with a number of nuns who piled out for an afternoon coffee break at the restaurant.
We then walked some more and visited the sales center and learned that 400 of a planned 11000 housing units have been completed. We then visited the new church and found it quite impressive. The structure is made of steel with curved sides that to this untrained eye looked like they would do well in a hurricane. The inside was equally impressive with many of the interior features only recently having been completed, including Frank Lloyd Wright light fixtures.
It appears that the town growth has come to a standstill in these difficult times with no sign of additional houses being built. We agreed that it would not be on our list of places to live.