The developer who built top-selling Durbin Crossing has been named to lead RiverTown, a master-planned community on the St. Johns River that struggled to gain a foothold during the recession.
Jason Sessions was hired this week to be general manager of RiverTown for Canadian developer Mattamy Homes. Mattamy, which also is one of the builders in the community, purchased RiverTown in April from its original developer, The St. Joe Co., and is planning to redesign and re-launch the community in 2016.
Sessions, formerly president of the Southeastern Development Group Inc., has been developing real estate in Jacksonville for 15 years. Previous projects include the condo conversion of Sail Cove Town Center and the Twin Lakes development in St. Augustine.
Sessions is best known as the developer of Durbin Crossing, the 2,200-home community in northwest St. Johns County that in 2013 ranked 36th in the nation for best-selling master-planned communities.
As RiverTown’s general manager, Sessions will lead all aspects of planning in bringing the community to market, including working with custom builders.
Sessions described Mattamy as a “smart group” of people to work with and said he was excited by the opportunity.
“I don’t think people in the Jacksonville community really understand RiverTown yet. It’s not simply going to be a master-planned community. It will be a town,” he said.
The community is approved for up to 4,950 homes, twice the size of Durbin Crossing and just under half the size of Nocatee to the east.
“The natural beauty of the project, having so much river frontage is exciting,” Sessions said. “What really caught my attention with RiverTown is we have a blank slate. We can build over 4,000 homes, and there’s really only about 200 on the ground right now.”
Sessions called RiverTown is a natural fit for him, since development at Durbin Crossing is finishing up. Only 100 lots remain to be sold there.
“It’s about five miles down the road from Durbin Crossing, and I’ll be involved with a lot of the same players to get this community back on track,” he said.
Mattamy, which is the largest homebuilder in Canada, brings expertise and resources to the project.
“In Canada, this is what they normally do,” Sessions said. “They buy their communities and build them out exclusively.”
It’s become the model here too since the downturn. With developers strapped to finance projects, large builders have picked up the role of developer more and more.
“The lion’s share of projects in Jacksonville that have sold over the last five years have all been to builders,” Sessions said.