Eye candy

Colorful New Murals Pop Up in Downtown Wellen

The murals are a unique addition to the top-rated, fast-growing master-planned community and its soon-to-be-finished downtown core.

By Kim Doleatto March 1, 2023

Mural by Ivan Roque in Downtown Wellen Park

Mural by Ivan Roque in Downtown Wellen Park

Most master-planned communities don’t look like a place where colorful murals would fly like they do in the Rosemary District in downtown Sarasota. (What would the HOA gods think?!) But Wellen Park’s downtown is coming together with its own unique vibe.

Located off U.S. 41 just west of South River Road, in south Sarasota County, Downtown Wellen now has larger-than-life great blue herons and colorful flowers on the walls of the area’s newest buildings, alongside a woman in an innertube among the fish. The murals are by local artist Laura Pommier and Miami muralist Ivan Roque.

Mural by local artist Laura Pommier.

Mural by local artist Laura Pommier.

Roque’s mural of birds, blooms and butterflies are located at Downtown Wellen’s gateway along Wellen Park Boulevard, spanning the wall of the building that’s the future home of Oak & Stone Craft Beer & Artisan Pizza, Breakwater Home Fashions and Foxtail Coffee Co.

Pommier’s mural, also located along the side of this building, is an oak tree landscape with flowers and greenery. The mural’s final touch, coming within the next few weeks, will be a swing for public photo opps. Pommier’s second painting, of the woman in the water, is adjacent to downtown’s two-story commercial and office spaces, just across the boulevard.

The artists were selected from submissions to the inaugural Downtown Wellen Mural Project, a contest formed by Wellen Park and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County in search of artists to create murals reflecting nature, joyful lifestyles and a waterside vibe. Roque has painted murals in 13 states and four countries and has worked with clients like Microsoft and Samsung. Pommier, a Port Charlotte artist, painted the Blooms mural at the Wellen Park Welcome Center and has created others in the local region.

Now fully leased, Downtown Wellen’s retail and restaurants are on the cusp of opening their doors throughout the spring. Restaurants headed there include the waterfront Banyan House, Villani & Co. Steak Seafood Raw Bar, Aqua Pazza, and Bright Ice Scoop Shop.

Also coming to Downtown Wellen are Breakwater Home Fashions, Paint Nail Bar, Naples Soap Company, a Dana Tyler jewelry and fashion boutique, and more.

It's all anchored by an 80-acre grand lake surrounded by green spaces and outdoor seating, shaded by decades-old, relocated live oak trees. Funded by Wellen Park developers, the million-dollar relocation effort’s main star is a 97-year-old, 500,000-pound live oak heritage tree overlooking the lake. It's one of 26 live oaks brought to the site from the former Thomas Ranch to line a three-mile path around the lake.

The lake itself has a public dock, where people can launch canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards—motorized watercraft aren't allowed. It's also stocked with fish for catch-and-release.

The green spaces will host a full roster of community festivals, markets, celebrations and events and a lakefront fountain and splash pad. Solis Hall, a new rental venue, has an outdoor stage and a lakefront patio. "The Yard," as it's called, will have three food trucks made of retrofitted shipping containers for casual outdoor eats.

Beyond Downtown Wellen, more growth in the area is on the way. 

For the third year in a row, Wellen Park is the fourth fastest-selling master-planned community in the country. It added more than 3,500 new residents last year within one mile of its downtown, with 2,400 new single-family residential units on the way. There are also 1,555 multi-family rental units closed or under contract. 

Outside of residential development growth, three hotels are under contract, along with four new schools and a Costco. Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice is doubling in size and construction is now underway on a 102-bed patient care tower, expanded ER and additional surgery suites. Pre-construction work is also beginning on a new hospital on a 32-acre site at Sumter Boulevard and I-75.

Currently, the community has approximately 9,500 residents, and at full buildout will have more than 50,000 residents and 22,500 homes within its three distinct districts: West Villages, Downtown Wellen and Playmore.

For the roster of public events, including Zumba, yoga and live music, click here.

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