Abandoned golf course transformed itself into LEED platinum certified green community
Mirabella, a maintenance-free, gated, 55+ neighborhood in West Bradenton, has an unusual location and development history. The land was originally a golf course that lay fallow for more than a decade. Overgrown with weeds and untamed shrubbery, it was home to an array of Florida wildlife. Residents of Village Green, which surrounded the former links, did not enjoy the blighted view and sightings of coyotes.
Then, in the early 2000s, local developers Marshall Gobuty and Pat Neal decided to partner and create a new neighborhood there, but the real estate recession put their plans on hold. By the time the venture revived in 2015, Neal was busy building other communities throughout the area, and Gobuty had to proceed on his own.
To raise money, he teamed up with an international housing development company created by Florian Lanz. Together, they formed LAGOInvest — the name derived from the first two letters of their last names, Lanz and Gobuty. Marshall became the active, “on the grounds” manager of the project. Pat Neal remained involved as a consultant.
As Marshall’s brother, Jeffrey, who came aboard as sales agent in 2016, remembered, “I saw Pat maybe 12 to 15 times coming to check things out.” He added with a smile, “As far as I could tell, he and my brother were the only two people in Bradenton walking around in the humid, 95-degree weather, wearing suits.”
Jeffrey Gobuty, a realtor with Bee Green Realty, ended up selling 110 of the 160 homes built and is a resident of the community himself. “I love what we have done here,” he said proudly. “What makes Mirabella stand out from other new developments is that Marshall decided to make it a green community. Every home except the two models, is LEED platinum certified. (The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design an refers to the most widely used green building rating system in the world.)
“It added several months to our build time — which was eight to nine months — because of all the inspections,” Gobuty continued. “But in 1918 we won the Aurora Award for being the most energy efficient community in the country!”
“Being LEED certified is a big plus,” said Becky O’Steen, who was the original sales agent for Mirabella and sold the first 53 homes in the neighborhood. “The average electric bill is $60 to $70 a month, prorated for the whole year.”
She has two houses listed in Mirabella. One of them has added solar panels and the owners are banking kilowatts with FPL. She also manages two rental residences for an investor. “There are a handful of those, with a six-months minimum lease requirement,” she explained.
The layout of Mirabella is symmetrical. From the gated entrance on 75th Street West, Vista Bella Drive leads past the clubhouse and community swimming pool to a large central, circular meadow, which houses two pickleball courts. From there, Calle Grand Street extends north and south, bisecting the neighborhood and leading to T-intersections whose cross streets end in cul de sacs.
Most of the houses are 2-bedroom, 2-bath, Florida modern design, with attractive, light, reddish-brown tile roofs. The interiors feature flowing, open floor plans adapted from a popular Pat Neal model, high ceilings, and 1,525 square feet of living space.
Twenty-two homes offer three bedrooms and a den. Their creation is another unusual story.
In the early days, a number of couples came from Anna Maria Island. They were looking to downsize but wanted a home large enough for them to have two offices. “So, we added 12 feet to the length, and 225 more square feet of living space,” Gobuty recalled. “Other buyers liked the larger laundry room with a window, closet, and extra storage.
Although a lot of people who came from Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, and upstate New York had their primary home up north to begin with, they have since become permanent residents. “Ninety-two percent live here year-round,” said Gobuty. “We are very social — there are parties, card games and other activities in the meeting area of the clubhouse.”
Everyone loves the location — halfway between the barrier island beaches and downtown Bradenton. “It’s easy to get to everything between Cortez Rad and Manatee Avenue,” said O’Steen. Blake Medical Center is less than a mile away. Restaurants, shopping and grocery stores are all within 10-minutes driving distance.
A monthly homeowners association fee of $275 pays for upkeep of the private roads, yard maintenance, a dog park, the community pool and spa, a fitness center, basic cable. Reserves cover roof replacement for the next 40 years and exterior painting every eight years.
Because the land used to be a golf course, there is excellent drainage throughout. All irrigation is done with reclaimed water from the retention ponds throughout the community. Because Mirabella has one of the highest elevations in the area, there is no need for flood insurance.
Currently, there are seven homes for sale in Mirabella, ranging in rice from $364,500 to $399,750.