October 2, 2014
Building buy-in at Plum Creek


“This has an opportunity to be a model for the rest of the state,” says Todd Powell.


Building buy-in at Plum Creek

Lilly Rockwell | 11/13/2013

The undeveloped land owned by Plum Creek Timber in east Alachua County is four times bigger than the borough of Manhattan. Currently, the company — the largest private landowner in the country — leases most of its 65,000 acres to hunters who prowl for deer and turkey.

Plum Creek in Florida

» Total acres in Florida: 448,000
» Counties: 21 counties in mostly north and central Florida
» Trees: Loblolly pine, slash pine and other pine species
» Amount in conservation statewide: 95,000 acres
» Total in acres in Alachua County: 65,000 acres
» Amount in conservation in Alachua County: 24,000 acres

Alachua County officials knew the property wouldn’t remain undeveloped indefinitely. Eight years ago, officials asked the company, which primarily operates its holdings as timberland but also sells and develops some parcels, what it intended to do with its land.

The company’s response has involved an unusual approach to long-range master planning. Instead of putting together a development plan and approaching stakeholder groups for support after the plan was ready for county and state approvals, Plum Creek went to the stakeholders first.

In 2011, the company created a 29-person task force of community and state leaders, environmental groups and representatives of predominantly rural and low-income east Alachua County. Calling the project “Envision Alachua,” Plum Creek spent two years with the group holding workshops and forums, consulting out-of-state advisers, studying maps and conducting site visits.

“This has an opportunity to be a model for the rest of the state,” says Todd Powell, senior director of real estate for Plum Creek.

“Plum Creek was reasonably receptive,” says Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon and an Envision Alachua task force member. They wanted a “long-term business plan for these lands,” he says, and were “looking for community consensus” before presenting anything to regulators.

By the end of 2012, Envision Alachua settled on a 50-year preliminary development plan centered around a 10,000-acre area east of Newnan’s Lake between Gainesville and the small town of Hawthorne. The company envisions a corridor for high-tech manufacturing and agribusinesses, along with about 10,000 homes. Land under conservation easement will grow to 46,000 acres.

Powell says he doesn’t expect to break ground for at least two years.

Tags: Northeast, Housing/Construction

Digital Access

Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.


Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Southwest Florida Eagle Cam
Southwest Florida Eagle Cam

Over the past two bald eagle breeding seasons, more than 20 million viewers have watched the nesting activities of eagles Ozzie and Harriet by means of a camera mounted above their nest.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Comic-book and gaming stores are expanding across Florida. The state's major comic & video game themed conventions continue to generate increased interest and revenue. What's your level of participation in the world of comics & gaming?

  • All in! I love gaming and/or comics! We're in a new Golden Age of entertainment!
  • I manage the occasional game or graphic novel, from time to time...
  • Does Candy Crush count?
  • Are you kidding? I don't have time for any of that stuff...

See Results

Ballot Box