Community of Tomorrow Today

Tradition tower at sunset

Tradition’s beauty and its familiar tower welcome visitors from Port St. Lucie and beyond to the ever-growing planned community. KIM SENG PHOTO

From farmland to elegant all-encompassing community, Tradition hailed as model development


There’s a bit of Pleasantville, the mythical movie town where everything is beautifully perfect, at Tradition. But unlike the film, where everything is in black and white, Tradition is most definitely in vibrant Technicolor. Meticulous landscaping is enhanced by a West Indies-inspired color scheme for shops and town houses in Tradition Square, which is reflected in the beautiful fountained lake across from Town Hall.

The people smile a little longer and choose to be more helpful in Tradition. Everything is not perfect, of course, but residents and shopkeepers seem to try a little harder. That may be why so many people from within the city of Port St. Lucie travel there to shop, play along the shore and bring their friends and families to attend events.

“Tradition was really designed as a downtown-of-tomorrow type of thought process that would incorporate many of the amenities to be close at hand,” says Port St. Lucie City Manager Jeff Bremer. “The town provides many services and opportunities for the residences so that they do not have to travel.”

Bremer adds that Tradition may not be Port St. Lucie’s only center since it incorporates 120 square miles and has other areas of development, but its location close to Interstate 95 and its space for growth give it huge potential to become one of the most well-known.

“When they developed Tradition, it was almost like going back to the days of having a town center with neighborhood shopping and entertainment opportunities surrounded by residences,” says Bremer. “It’s unique and goes to the roots of what cities used to be and what they were able to provide.”

The new state-of-the-art Tradition Medical Center that offers private rooms and emergency care and is adjacent to Mann Medical One. The combination gives residents a central location for both inpatient and outpatient care. Both medical facilities are beside Southern Grove, an extended annexation area with $6 million of infrastructure already constructed for additional services, homes and recreational areas.

“The area is primed and ready with the possibility for an additional 200,000 residents,” Bremer says. “We are shovel-ready for many opportunities and I think that we will see the medical center continue to expand and the area continue to grow because it has the most opportunity for development with all the vacant land and because of our proximity to the interstate. People are moving here as populations become more dense and congested in the south.”

The City of Port St. Lucie was incorporated by General Development Corp. in 1961, as a city with few people. Now it is designated as having the fastest-growing population and is the ninth largest municipality in the state.

Tradition took its first steps as a master-planned community after Port St. Lucie annexed the site of a sod farm as well as some cattle ranches and citrus groves in 2001. It is the city’s youngest community, but PSL officials believe it could make the area a destination location to be reckoned with in the future.

“Tradition is the largest fully entitled real estate development along the length of Interstate 95 from Florida to the Canadian border,” says Dr. Hank Fishkind, a noted Florida economist and real estate analyst. “The structural change to the area’s economy ensures that the area will become the next major urban node in Florida.”

In addition to its more than 17,500 residential units, Tradition boasts many commercial acres that offer well-known stores and restaurants, lovely recreational areas and the essential medical and financial services residents require. It is also the location of the Tradition Center for Innovation, a 150-acre research and development park featuring the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, the Mann Research Center and the medical center, which residents tout as the best hospital in the area.

Tradition has something extra that separates it from many typical residential communities. It has been at the top or near the top of the list of the safest cities in Florida for the past eight consecutive years and is one of the safest in the country. There is a sense of insular safety with a nod to small-town living in a Mayberry-esque way while offering an upscale sophistication and polish.

“We have a great police department,” Bremer says. “They have a successful record for solving any cases and it is the safest city of its size.”

That gives residents the freedom to enjoy their homes and activities without worry. Nowhere is that more evident than in the heart of the community at Tradition Square as residents casually stroll along the lake or ride bikes along well-lit pathways.

The elegant Town Hall with its soaring steeple architecture is a beacon for visitors to find the town’s multitude of events. Residents mingle with visitors for seasonal celebrations, food truck invasions, fireworks displays and other festivities that fill the square as families greet neighbors and visitors with a friendly hello.

“We have everything here: a lot of families and a great mix,” says Kilwins Tradition owner Kate Labonte. “This is a neighborhood store. We get a lot of kids after school and parents bringing in their family after dinner. People head down here just to get ice cream and let the kids play and even occasionally have a picnic on the green. It is nice, too, because we know many of our customers by name.”

Marian Oliva, Dustin Wright and O’hara Smith all work together at Kilwins and say that they love living and working in Tradition.

“We have so much fun together and there is a lot to do. We see our customers all the time and we know that when one girl, Marci, comes in she always gets two Oreos and one caramel,” Oliva says as the others laugh and agree.

The retail area is condensed and many residents tend to stay within the community so there seems to be a greater bond between store owners and their customers.

“We were the very first business to open up in the square,” says Gina Grothe at the Sanctuary Spa at Tradition. “When we were scouting locations we knew we had to be here. It is so quaint and for us our clients are also our neighbors. We see them out shopping with their kids or walking every day.”

Residents move here not just because of the housing opportunities and convenience but also because there is so much to do within their complexes. Many of the subdivisions have like-minded residents who form clubs and interest groups within their community. Several have baseball clubs that travel to the Mets games in St. Lucie West or golf enthusiasts who religiously attend all the PGA Village professional tournaments just a short drive away.

“We wanted to live in an over-55 community in Florida so we Googled all of them and found Tradition,” says Becky Sanderoff who moved from Maryland with her husband to Vitalia at Tradition four months ago. “Everything is very convenient here and we liked the community concept. Within Vitalia we have lots of clubs …Club Ameci, which is an Italian lovers club; there is a music lovers club, a tiki bar on Sundays, a Sunset Night to watch the sunsets over the water and we already have tickets with the baseball club to see the Mets spring training.”

Within the community there are bike paths, fishing, shopping (sometimes by way of golf carts, which residents use to zip around town), and residents pass the day strolling, lounging or playing in Tradition Square.

There is also a mix of people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities that takes advantage of the friendly, clean town center. Large groups can be seen every day jogging, strolling, cycling and playing on the commons while parents watch their children play in the dancing fountains and all ages sit and chat on benches in the shade.

Joyce King sat in a camp chair reading while her husband, Douglas, and puppy, Nolly, were semi-snoozing beside her.

“It is lovely here,” she says. “I was surprised to see the variety of all the different ages, lots of children and teenagers and not retirees.”

Many people interviewed were from Port St. Lucie but did not live in Tradition.

Twenty-somethings Delilah Caballero, Joseph Cassaniti, Hayley Elizabeth and Darryn Nine just finished bicycling and rollerblading around the lake before getting out on the green to play catch.

“There are a lot of grassy areas here where we can throw around the football,” says Nine, who says they came from St. Lucie West.

“Everyone we passed on the paths all said hello,” says Elizabeth, who showed off her tattoo-covered arms. “It’s nice because obviously not a lot of people like tattoos, but when we are walking around you do not get that feeling here. Everyone is so nonjudgmental.”

“It is like Pleasantville,” says Cassaniti. “It is really wholesome, inviting and everyone is so welcoming.”