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David Smith
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 12, 201412:00 PM EST

AV Homes to build 120 houses on 80 acres near St. Johns Town Center

by: Carole Hawkins

AV Homes has finalized the purchase of about 80 acres near the St. Johns Town Center from the Skinner family.

The purchase price was just under $9.2 million, according to Duval County records.

AV Homes, a Scottsdale Arizona-based developer with communities in Arizona, Central Florida and South Carolina, plans to build 120 homes on the property.

Details have not been finalized, but prices will start in the $300,000s, according to David Smith, Florida Division president for AV Homes.

Smith called the parcel the proverbial hole in the doughnut for development — a pristine property surrounded by existing communities that’s a one-mile drive to the St. Johns Town Center and four miles from the beach. It’s a place people already come to for recreation and to work, shop and dine, he said.

“The opportunities for new homes in that area are very limited,” Smith said.

It will be the only new single-family home community within five miles, he said.

Smith said the community would be a unique enclave, an urban park that preserves large oak trees and other natural elements. He envisions homes with front porches pulled up onto the back of sidewalks.

“It’s about knowing your neighbor, being very communal,” Smith said, “having open space and common areas people to mingle with their neighbors.”

A Jacksonville resident, Smith said he has long enjoyed the city’s older neighborhoods of Riverside, Avondale and San Marco.

“We will not replicate that — but create a community with some of the design cues that made that area of town really special,” he said.

Architecture will include Georgian red-brick and low-country houses, mixed with Mediterranean, French, and a little bit of Victorian. It will feel like driving through San Marco or Avondale, where no two homes are the same, he said.

AV Homes has historically generated about half its income from building active adult communities, according to company documents.

It’s a niche Smith also has experience with as the former Jacksonville division president for Pulte Homes. Smith led Pulte when it built the Sweetwater neighborhood, Jacksonville’s first 55-plus deed restricted community. He followed that success with Riverwood at Nocatee.

The new St. Johns Town Center community represents AV Homes’ interest in diversifying its portfolio to include a wide range of homebuyers. But, the company is also looking to acquire properties for developing active adult communities in the Jacksonville area as well, Smith said.

“AV Homes believes in the Jacksonville market,” Smith said.

The city has shown strong growth in existing home sales and job creation, steady population growth and decreased inventory of existing homes has increased the demand for new homes.

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