Sun City Center
The Community

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Sun City Center is located on the west coast of Florida twenty miles south of Tampa and twenty miles north of Sarasota. It is located in an area of Florida that is still agricultural, so once you leave the bounds of the community you'll see orange groves, fields of tomatoes and grazing cattle. The community was originally developed by Del Webb, Jr. who also developed Sun City, Arizona which is just outside of Phoenix. Both communities were developed along similar lines, in that facilities (recreational, shopping and medical) were provided to meet the needs of the residents and could be reached by golf cart. The undeveloped parts of Sun City Center have passed thru the hands of several developers. Currently, Watermark Communities (formerly Florida Design) is developing the last 20% of land that remains. It is expected that the build-out of the community will occur within 10 to 15 years.

The first residents moved here in 1962. There are now about 6,200 homes with about 10,300 residents here. The first homes that were built were very small with carports and were very inexpensive. Over time, the homes have become single dwelling homes and more expensive. New homes now cost $200,000+ and feature whirlpool baths, vaulted ceilings and two-car garages. The streets curve around through the community. The homes and lawns are well maintained. There are almost no fences. There are six large lakes. Homes located on the lakes often have docks and pontoon boats.

Sun City Center is an age-restricted community, sanctioned by federal, state and county laws. This means that at least one of the spouses must be at least 55-years old. Children under 18 may not live here. Therefore it is a very quiet community. Also, by being age-restricted, state law allows golf carts to be operated on all streets and no license is required. Residents own over 3,500 golf carts - more than any other community in the U.S.

Sun City Center is considered to be one of America's premier retirement communities because of its facilities and friendly active lifestyle. Most residents maintain calendars to keep track of their life. Golfing is the most popular pastime with several courses. There are two main courses with a total of 45 holes. Bridge is quite popular. Lawn bowling is also one of the more popular recreational activities here. Sun City Center has hosted national and international tournaments in that sport.

And if your interests lay elsewhere, there are over eighty clubs and organizations here to satisfy your needs. Twenty of the clubs are craft-related. From softball to dulcimers, from pottery to day-tripping, from painting to fitness - you get the picture. Facilities include two major buildings. One is the Community Hall for large meetings, dances and dinners. The other houses meeting and club rooms, an exercise room and two pools. There is also a little theatre, a complete wood-working shop, a well-equipped ham radio station, rooms for weaving, sewing, stained glass, kiln work and model railroading and several rooms for arts and crafts. Outdoor facilities include shuffle board, eight tennis courts, horse shoe pits, pool, softball diamond and four lawn bowling courts.

The common areas, such as the Community Hall and swimming, craft and sports facilities are overseen by a nine-member Board of Directors elected by the residents. Each resident pays annual dues ($140 per resident) to the Community Association for the purpose of maintaining the community facilities. The amount of the dues is determined by the Board of Directors and voted on by the residents. In addition, residents pay annual User Fees to the particular clubs to which they belong. These may range all the way from zero for the Chess Club to over $80 for the Lawn Bowlers.

The developer owns the Golf & Racket Club. It is styled along the lines of a private country club. Annual golfing dues are around $3,000, and annual Social dues are another $3,000. Facilities there include the two golf courses, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a very nice restaurant.

The whole community runs on the volunteerism of the residents. Sun City Center is the safest community in Hillsborough County, due in large part to the 1,500 member Security Patrol that patrols the streets in four radio-equipped cars, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. There is also a resident staffed Emergency Squad that transports people to medical facilities during the day and is available around-the-clock to respond to emergency calls. There is a Library here which does a brisk business.

Sun City Center has a full-service accredited 112-bed hospital complete with a surgical center and a community dialysis center. Many physicians and specialists have offices here in town. There is also a fully-manned County fire-station here with a truck and an ambulance.

Because of its location, Sun City residents have access to the cultural events of both Tampa and Sarasota. Both cities have fine theatres. And for the younger set, Busch Gardens, Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios are just an hour or two away. Tampa has professional teams for the major sports. In addition, nine major league baseball teams train within an hour's drive.

Tampa has five major network TV stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS) as well as several independent stations that can be received here. The community has also has a recently upgraded Time-Warner cable system. The community is served by two daily newspapers: The Tampa Tribune (Republican) and the St. Petersburg Times (Democrat). There are two free weeklies (The Sun and The Observer) that are delivered to each home. And once a month, residents produce the Sun City Center News which is specifically for the residents.

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If you have any comments, please e-mail them to me: dbrown28@tampabay.rr.com.