September 18, 2014

Development

Growth Moves South

More than 50,000 homes are planned for St. Johns County.

Bob Snell | 2/1/2005
With 40,000 new homes already in the planning stage, The Hutson Cos.' announcement that it is adding 10,700 more units to St. Johns County's residential inventory sent shudders through the community. At 7,500 acres, SilverLeaf Plantation rivals the massive Nocatee development on the St. Johns/Duval County line in size and complexity.

The Hutson Cos. and several partners will spend more than $100 million on road improvements, schools, parks and other amenities -- many of which will be built before the first home is occupied.

While some local officials question whether demand in St. Johns County can keep pace with the supply of new homes, The Hutson Cos. President Donald Hinson says he has few worries. He points to the success of another Hutson project, the sold-out, 10,000-home OakLeaf Plantation in neighboring Clay County.

FLORIDA TREND: What market conditions favor SilverLeaf's success?

DONALD HINSON: While the overall market, and especially St. Johns County, is certainly hot, we take a more long-term approach when it comes to building communities. SilverLeaf is located near current and future jobs, a short drive to the beach or St. Augustine and an easy commute to the Jacksonville Symphony, Jaguars games and other cultural attractions.

FT: With Nocatee and several other large residential developments in the planning and construction phase, is there a danger St. Johns County could soon have too many units on the market?

HINSON: Keep in mind that SilverLeaf, like most developments of regional impact, are long-term projects. Nocatee in particular is projecting a 25-year buildout. There is very little available land for both job centers and homes in southeast Duval County, so growth will move south. When you look at the current absorption rate in St. Johns County, coupled with the decreased supply of land to the north, it becomes clear that there will be strong demand.

FT: You've detailed a number of significant infrastructure improvements that will be made before much of SilverLeaf is occupied. What kind of risk does that represent?

HINSON: We view any infrastructure costs as a sound investment with minimal risk.

FT: Do you see future development opportunities in northeast Florida?

HINSON: Yes, northeast Florida is our home, one of the best places in the nation to live. We believe that by building communities like SilverLeaf, we can not only maintain but enhance the quality of life that attracts so many to this area.

Tags: Northeast, Housing/Construction

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