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Realty Builder
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 11, 201811:50 AM EST

New home communities: A steady increase

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Homebuilding hasn’t returned to the numbers seen before the Great Recession, but there are more than 150 new home communities in progress in Northeast Florida, with more in the pipeline.
by: Jay Schlichter Staff Writer

Throughout Northeast Florida, developers and homebuilders stay busy year-round trying to keep up with the demand for new homes.

In the region’s four busiest counties – Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns – there are hundreds of single-family, townhome, condominium and apartment communities under construction, with more proposed almost daily.

While the region hasn’t reached the level of home construction seen before the Great Recession, there has been a steady increase over the past several years.

In 2001, for example, homebuilders were issued 9,075 permits and it rapidly escalated to 17,753 permits in 2005 before dropping off significantly in the years after. 

The area didn’t see a resurgence in homebuilding growth until six years ago, when the number of permits rose from about 3,000 annually in the years following the nationwide housing crisis to 4,257 in 2012.

Since then, the number has continued to climb. In 2017, there were 8,870 housing permits issued, with 6,835 in 2018 as of August.

But just how many new home communities are there in Northeast Florida? It’s difficult to say. While the St. Johns River Water Management District receives a significant portion of those plans that require environmental review, there is no government database of new subdivisions. 

Also the Northeast Florida Builders Association and Northeast Florida Association of Realtors don’t track ongoing homebuilding.

According to research by Realty-Builder, there are more than 150 single-family developments in progress. Some are new, with nothing but dirt lots. Others are nearly built-out. 

In Duval, there are 54 developments. 

Of those, one of the newest is eTown, a 1,478-acre mixed-use community being developed by The PARC Group in south Duval County.

The first two neighborhoods – Marconi and Edison – were announced in mid-September. PARC representatives did not respond to questions about the total amount of homes proposed to be built in eTown.

In Nassau, of the 19 housing developments found, the largest is Wildlight, which is just the first portion of a 40- to 50-year project with plans for up to 24,000 units over 24,000 acres of land.

The developer, Raydient, is a subsidiary of one of the area’s largest landowners, Rayonier Inc., a timber real estate investment trust. 

According to Charles Adams, vice president of community development for Raydient Places + Properties, which is building Wildlight, the community will be a centrally based “town” with about 3,200 homes, townhouses and apartments and 7 million square feet of commercial space.

It will be surrounded by many other housing and commercial developments, he said, describing the end product like a European town that has a dense center, with “villages” on the outskirts and homes sitting on a property with several acres even farther out.

He also revealed that there are plans for some of the communities to be age-restricted properties and that there will be roughly 11 million square feet of commercial space eventually in addition to the 24,000 units.

In St. Johns County, Realty-Builder found 68 single-family projects.

RiverTown, being developed by Mattamy Homes, is one of the latest added to the already busy northwestern zone of the county, where dozens of placards, billboards and people twirling arrow-shaped signs line many street corners, encouraging drivers to check out the latest development just down the road.

Jason Sessions, the vice president of land acquisition and development for Mattamy Homes, said the community will have about 5,000 units – single-family and multifamily – within 4,500 acres, and that they have sold about 10 percent of the project so far. The entire build-out of the community will take 10 to 15 years, he said.

In Clay County, of the 12 new neighborhoods, GreyHawk is one of the most recent projects being added in the large OakLeaf Plantation community.

The neighborhood, being developed by GreenPointe Communities, began its first phase of construction this month. GreyHawk will have 500 homes on 188 acres, said Mike Taylor, the North Florida Division manager for GreenPointe.

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