Wellness on a Grand Scale

How one master planned community in Florida is encouraging homeowners to take charge of their health and well-being

By Stacey Freed | August 1, 2020
The community garden at the Lake Nona master planned community in Orlando, Florida
The Lake Nona master planned community offers pocket parks, community gardens, and free community events. | Photo: Courtesy Lake Nona

The goal for Lake Nona, an 11,000-acre master planned community in Orlando, Fla., was to create the ideal place to “inspire human potential,” says Karlee Kunkle, senior communications manager for Tavistock Development Co. “We say health and well-being start in your home, not when you get to the doctor’s office,” she says. 

 

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To that end, one obvious feature of this MPC is the 40 miles of trails that snake through its neighborhoods and commercial sections, encouraging activity among residents and those who work there. There are also pocket parks, community gardens, and free community events, including yoga and meditation. “We really try to focus on creating opportunities for people to live their best life,” Kunkle says. 

A city within a city, Lake Nona boasts about 16,000 residents in more than a dozen different neighborhoods built by home builders such as PulteGroup, Taylor Morrison, David Weekley Homes, Ashton Woods, and Craft Homes, a Tavistock builder. The community includes two hospitals and a soon-to-be teaching hospital associated with the Central Florida College of Medicine. 

 

Lake Nona yoga in the park
Community activities, such as outdoor group yoga classes, are a cornerstone of the wellness-driven vision for Lake Nona, in Orlando, Fla. | Photo: Courtesy Lake Nona

 

While builders aren’t required to build “healthy homes” per se, the community itself is focused on well-being, and consumers seek to move there as a result. “Our residents are great brand ambassadors for us,” Kunkle says. “They tell our story so well.” 

Also in the community is the Wellness Home built on Innovation and Technology (WHIT), an initiative managed by the Lake Nona Institute, a nonprofit scientific research group. WHIT is a place for entrepreneurs to road-test products and apply new technologies and design ideas in a real life environment. 

Whether Lake Nona residents are healthier than those living in other places is also being studied, Kunkle says. For the past six years, the community has been conducting research based on the Framingham Heart Study, which examines the impact of living and working in a healthy environment.

 

Stacey Freed writes about design from her home in Pittsford, N.Y.

 

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