Livingston Woods Gaining Star Status
BY: Maxine Ginsberg
On the official maps of Collier County, it will always be the Unit 35 of Golden Gate Estates, but to the long-suffering people who live there, it’s now Livingston Woods, a recognizable neighborhood and hot property for upscale home seekers.
The 200 lots defined by Pine Ridge Road, Livingston Road, I-75 and a boundary line south of Hunter Road were the victims of anonymity, residents said.
That was pretty good, from a real estate standpoint, since the large acreage was still available for a reasonable price. But it was bad for the residents, because no one could find them. “Since we had numerical street numbers, and are cut off from the rest of the estates by the highway and The Vineyards, delivery people would be searching for our homes somewhere off Logan or Green Roads,” said resident John Hayes. “They had no idea where we were – the numbers confused them.” That was a minor inconvenience for package delivery but a major problem when emergency medical staff or fire apparatus was trying to reach an address there.
Hayes and fellow resident Steve Cashion decided to do something. They got the names of the 200 lot owners from county records and called a series of meetings. “The turnout was about 80 at the first two meetings and at least 50 at the last ones,” Cash recalled.
They decided to replace their “2, 4, 6, 8” street names with woodsy titles, such as Bottlbrush and Sandalwood. “We went to the county, armed with support letters from the fire department and EMS,” Hayes said. “The staff was responsive to our request.”
Because Hayes is a construction industry professional working with county staff was less daunting than it might have been for ordinary citizenry. The hardest part for both Cashion and Hayes was going door to door in the 640-acre sector, seeking petition signatures for the street name changes and waiting for response from the absentee owners (about 100 of the lots are occupied). “First, we had a list of names from which residents of each street voted in order of preference,” Cashion said. “When the winning names emerged, we needed to get 50 percent plus one to sign the petitions for each street.”
It took about nine months from the start of the project until the Board of County Commissioners approved the street name changes, and Livingston Woods was born. A committee of homeowners is now working on getting an entry sign to further identify the neighborhood.
The christening of the community comes at a time when it’s maturing from an isolated, unknown entity into an object of increasing desire. Larry and Jackie Pearson are among the new breed of residents building real estates in the Estates.
The Pearsons, like many of their predecessors, were attracted to the large size of the wooded lots and the privacy they offered. So impressed were the long time (1975) Park Shore residents that they snapped up five-plus acres and built themselves a three bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home with pool, two garages and utility building.
But that building profile doesn’t tell the whole story. The home’s 4,200 air conditioned square feet and 9,100 total square feet sit on tiered, exceptionally landscape grounds.
Architect SAM VASQUEZ said the home offered sophisticated security mechanisms that rival the protection of gated communities. “Monitors have been placed at several locations throughout the home to survey the property,” he said, “and security shutters were installed during construction so that no exterior storage casements are visible The property is fenced, and accessed through a mechanized gate controlled from the house.”
Do upscale woods people have to yield to primitive conditions? Vasquez says no. A reverse osmosis water purification system delivers quality water for the home, and utility building protects all the air conditioning and electrical equipment necessary to run it.
Jackie Pearson said her husband Larry, a retail business retiree, found the property on one of his searches for larger living space. “We loved the wooded setting and the fact that it was really close to many conveniences,” she said.
Ah, location. It was good to begin with, but its getting better all the time. With the build up of the intersection of Pine Ridge and Airport -Pulling Road, both present and planned, the far-sighted early settlers of Unit 35 are seeing the value of their property climb.