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Partners plan to build community for nudists

The gated community with 28 custom-built homes would be surrounded by a 6-foot privacy fence.

By JAMES THORNER

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 12, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- Land O'Lakes, one of the nation's nudist meccas, is about to get its first oasis.

Two local real estate agents who dabble in nudism have decided to develop their own upscale nudist-only neighborhood on a former pine tree farm north of Carson Drive.

Mike Benjamin and John Lutz call their development the Oasis. The gated community will feature a tropical park with a heated swimming pool, tiki hut, spa, community center and waterfall.

Despite the presence of four nudist resorts in central Pasco County, including the 6,000-member Paradise Lakes off U.S. 41, Benjamin said the demand for spots to frolic in the buff shows no sign of waning.

The business partners plan to limit residency to members in good standing of the American Association of Nude Recreation. The organization represents most of the country's largest nudist clubs.

Twenty-eight custom-built homes on lots ranging from one-quarter acre to 1 acre will start at about $160,000. A 6-foot privacy fence will deter peepers. If the plans pass the muster of county engineers, groundbreaking is set for September.

"We have been flooded with potential buyers, and we haven't done one word of advertising," Benjamin said.

Benjamin and Lutz live in Lake Heron, the walled subdivision on Lake Floyd Drive filled with more than 100 nudist families, and socialize at Paradise Lakes.

Since the Oasis won't offer any nightclub scene, Benjamin expects most residents to retain memberships at one of the nudist clubs in town. The partners hope to confine public nudity in the neighborhood to the tropical park.

"It's a place where people can entertain their non-nudist friends and family," he said. "We call it a hybrid community."

The Oasis isn't the only new project luring more of the nudist crowd to Land O'Lakes.

On Saturday, Paradise Lakes officially broke ground on 71 new condominiums, adding to the resort's current 350 homes.

Lake Como, the area's oldest nudist resort, plans to install sewer lines this year, allowing the club to expand onto an undeveloped 200-acre orange grove.

Finally, a group of investors has spent five years trying to launch Caliente, a proposed Mediterranean-style nudist village on 97 acres east of U.S. 41 in Land O'Lakes.

The area continues to welcome nudists, most of whom are upper-middle-class empty nesters who inject cash into the local economy.

"Pasco County is very nudist friendly," said Carolyn Hawkins of the American Association of Nude Recreation.

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