Miguel Feliciano and his wife, Ileana Vargas, didn’t land in Manatee County, specifically River’s Reach, by accident.
Having lived in Largo for the past 22 years, the couple was ready for a change of scenery. Miguel knew what it would cost, $500,000 give or take, to find exactly what they were looking for in Pinellas County.
Miguel began scouring Zillow, but the majority of homes in the couple’s price point were older and would need a significant amount of work to transform them into Miguel and Ileana’s forever dream home.
At that point, the couple, who moved to Florida from New York in 1994, decided to look outside the box.
Miguel, a senior account executive and acting vice president of sales for Fiberglass Coatings, Inc., was fairly familiar with Manatee County and the surrounding area, having been responsible for the territory from St. Petersburg to Naples for a number of years.
In February 2016, the couple decided to make a trip over the Sunshine Skyway to visit some of the communities in Ellenton and the surrounding area, but nothing particularly stood out to them.
Miguel knew of one more area and decided to check out River’s Reach in Parrish before calling it a day.
Ileana asked her husband where he was taking her, but once they pulled into River’s Reach, Ileana knew the couple had found the perfect neighborhood to call home.
“I already knew I liked the area, and once Ileana saw it, I didn’t have to do too much convincing,” Miguel says. “She fell in love with the place – just everything about it. It’s this quaint little community on the outskirts. It’s kind of rural, but we are near everything.”
Located on Rye Road, just north of Upper Manatee River Road in Parrish, River’s Reach is a top-selling community by Neal Communities. The community is unique in that is close to all the surrounding areas of Lakewood Ranch, Ellenton and Sarasota have to offer while being tucked away along the picturesque Manatee River and Rye Preserve for those who relish the tranquility of old Florida.
Miguel and Ileana knew they wanted to be in a gated, deed-restricted community that would always maintain its value. While researching the area and the different homebuilders, Miguel learned that Neal Communities was named the 2015 Builder of the Year and the reviews were nothing but positive.
“River’s Reach felt like home the minute we pulled through,” says Miguel.
A couple weeks after their initial drive through River’s Reach, in March 2016, Miguel and Ileana returned to the sales center to tour some of the model homes and sign a contract. Six months later, on Sept. 29, which also happened to be Miguel’s birthday, the couple closed on their new home.
Miguel and Ileana moved into their 2,232-square-foot River’s Reach home Oct. 22, 2016. The couple selected the Aqua Breeze floor plan for their French Colonial-style home, which features three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a three-car side-entry garage. Miguel and Ileana, who are empty nesters, also built a custom pool.
“It just kind of reminded me of home,” says Miguel, who along with his wife is a New York native. “It’s not another cookie-cutter home. This house would cost $100,000 to $150,000 more in Pinellas County. That’s one of the things that won us over in the transition.”
Since moving into their new River’s Reach home, Miguel and Ileana have enjoyed exploring their new neighborhood. The couple’s home site faces a retention pond, which backs up to the Manatee River, allowing the couple to become one with nature while enjoying a cup of coffee on their front porch.
Neal Communities’ attention to detail and concern for nature and environment appealed to Miguel and Ileana.
“I was born and raised in New York, so I came from what I call the concrete jungle,” Miguel says. “I appreciate nature, and I wouldn’t give this up for the world. Being out here, we’re so close to everything and yet we can still be rural. There’s almost a sense of country living. We really love it.”
“Every Neal Communities community is designed with nature in mind, but not overstepping that fine line between looking like a traditional neighborhood,” says Miguel. “It just flows right into nature. That’s one of the things that I like. It’s all so natural, well thought out and planned. Kudos to the designers and the Neal family.”
Miguel and Ileana also have enjoyed sharing their home with family and friends, including their two children, Victor, a paralegal, and Justin, a police officer, and four grandchildren: 8-year old Judahkai, 3-year-old Eli, 1-year-old Addy and 11-month-old Zavier.
“It’s almost like they hand select the people and families that live in the homes,” Miguel says. “Everyone is so nice. Some places are not that way.”