St. Joe Co.
Having dropped its lower-margin home-building operations last year to focus on land development, the area's biggest landowner, St. Joe Co., is continuing to develop communities it had under way, expecting the market to rebound by next year.
St. Joe will be focusing on existing developments like WaterColor in Walton County.
At WindMark Beach, a planned 1,662-home waterfront community in Gulf County, St. Joe will open a 75,000-sq.-ft. Village Center. The company recently completed a 3.5-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 98 to provide public pedestrian access to the WindMark beach.
Several new developments will concentrate on primary and workforce housing, says Senior Vice President Jerry Ray, among them Hawks Landing at Lynn Haven, where homes will be in the low $300,000s.
The company also is working to restore undeveloped properties, such as West Bay Preservation Area near the new airport site in Panama City.
The company, which completed its reorganization by closing its Tallahassee office and laying off 50, reported that 2006 home sales dropped to 1,902 from 2,309 the year before. It expects a similar residential sales pattern this year.
Meanwhile, several national builders are stepping up their plans for the region. Matt Brandman, Beazer Homes' vice president of operations for the northwest Florida division, is optimistic. "People are getting serious about buying,'' he says of Tallahassee-area prospects, where Beazer has purchased some 160 sites at Southwood. It also has 400 sites under contract at two St. Joe developments at Panama City Beach.