- February 10, 2020
Starting June 8, Northeast Florida will be drawing visitors to tour the 2019 Southern Living Idea House on Crane Island in Nassau County.
Southern Living expects 10,000 to 15,000 visitors to the house during the six months it is open for tours.
For the county, it’s an economic driver.
“Our economy is very much based on tourism,” said Steve Nicklas, a member of the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce and a business and financial columnist for the Fernandina Beach News-Leader.
“We are very much a tourist destination,” so the number of visitors Southern Living expects “can only help,” he said.
Crane Island is part of Amelia Island and is west of the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport.
Nicklas said 700,000 visitors came to Amelia Island last year based on bed-tax numbers. That doesn’t include those who visited the area and didn’t stay in hotels that collect the tax.
The Amelia Island project will draw attention worldwide through its presentation in the August issue of Southern Living magazine (on newsstands July 19) and its finished house plans will be sold at Houseplans.SouthernLiving.com.
“It’s a river house through and through,” developer John Hillman recently said as workers scurried to put finishing touches on the white exterior and furnished interior to prepare it for the Southern Living magazine photo shoot.
The five-bedroom, 5½-bath home will be open for tours June 8 through Dec. 8. After that, it will be available for sale.
The 4,540-square-foot home, with 1,400 square feet of porches, is on Lot 27 at Crane Island, a new community under development on Amelia Island.
Development costs have not been tabulated, but the sale price, including the furnishings, is anticipated in the $3.5 million range.
Designed by the architectural firm Historical Concepts and constructed by Riverside Homes of Jacksonville, the house was created around the theme of “generational architecture,” said Hillman, vice president of sales and marketing of The Range at Crane Island LLC.
It has the look of a home that evolved over time, with wings added as the family grew.
“While it looks historic, it is of modern-day materials, so you get the feeling of something old and something new throughout,” Hillman said.
While the price is yet to be determined, it will be sold complete with all furnishings, provided by Southern Living, and decorated under the supervision of interior decorator and textile designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas of Heather Chadduck Interiors based in Birmingham, Alabama.
Southern Living was choosing between Crane Island and a town in North Carolina for the house, Hillman said.
“One of the keys was the land. It was pristine, and the vision for the architecture was aligned with historic Southern coastal vernacular,” he said.
The design was simple.
“It needed to celebrate the local tradition of Fernandina Beach and live well on a river setting,” Hillman said.
“I think they nailed it.”
The Victorian-style house faces the Intracoastal Waterway and was designed to give its owners ample views.
Wraparound first- and second-floor porches face moss-draped oaks that frame the Intracoastal Waterway.
Large windows in the living room lead onto porches. The dining area, off the kitchen, faces the water as well.
The tour provides visitors with 101 ideas, Hillegas said.
“We painted floors, we wallpapered ceilings, we used colors in the interiors that were reflected outside the house — beautiful greens, blues, grays,” she said.
In the master bedroom, a canopy attached to the high ceiling drapes over the poster bed.
In the kitchen, backsplashes are covered with hand-painted Gracie panels depicting tropical scenes.
The ceilings on the wide porches are painted the soft blue-green “haint blue,” a classical, traditional application that Hillegas said keeps with a low-country theme.
In addition, “there are antiques in every single room,” she said. “The inspiration behind the house was to build a new old house. We looked to history, to what had been done 100 years ago.”
Building a Southern Living Idea House means work and investment for the chosen area.
Hillman said he estimates that 95 percent of the team was local for the builder and the supporting trades.
Historical Concepts, the architect, is from Atlanta.
No estimate was provided for the marketing exposure through Southern Living.
Its 2019 media kit says Southern Living reaches more than 21.6 million people a month through print, digital and other platforms. The print reach is 16 million readers.
Crane Island is 3.5 miles from downtown historic Fernandina Beach.
The 185 acres of maritime forest, west of the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport, was owned by generations of the Broadbent family, which settled there in 1886.
The family lived there until the 1950s and the island remained undeveloped until now.
Hillman said the Broadbent family owned the land from 1886-1952 and then it went to the descendants of Esther Broadbent Silva.
The property changed hands a few times. Jack Healan Jr. and Saad Wallan bought it in 2014 and started to develop it in the summer of 2017 with work on infrastructure and utilities.
Hillman said the road network, path and trails and utilities are completed.
The main amenity center is under construction with completion expected by year-end.
When completed, the gated community of Crane Island will comprise 113 homes with amenities including parks, bike and walking paths and a community clubhouse with a pool called The River House.
Roads and home lots were designed around oak trees, some hundreds of years old.
Homes are available in four styles — Florida Homestead, Amelia Artisan, Island Contemporary and New Caribbean.
They are available through three builders in addition to Riverside Homes: Pickett Construction, DF Luxury Homes and Cam Bradford Homes.
Nicklas said when it was slated for development, “there was a lot of opposition—tons,” he said. “But now, when people see it, they will be extremely impressed. It is a very environmentally sound development.”