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HOUSING BOOM? Former timberlands in northwest St. Johns County are a hotbed for residential developments, and worries about adequate infrastructure and services have prompted county planners to commission an 18-month study to plot sound growth. Chances are, however, that construction will outpace thoughtful planning. "We're playing catch-up," says Scott Clem, the county's planning director.

Taylor Woodrow Communities, St. Joe Co.'s Arvida Realty, A&S Land Development and others plan communities. Clem says 2,800 homes have been approved and 2,000 more are in the permitting loop. Additionally, Atlantic Gulf Communities Corp. plans a 4,000-home development north of County Road 210 where a large portion of the build-out is slated, and rumors are that St. Joe Co. will resurrect plans for a large development nearby. "This is where residential growth from Jacksonville is going to occur in the next 10 years," says Tom Gillette, senior vice president of Atlantic Gulf. But some developers question whether growth will occur at a breakneck pace; they speculate that immediate demand for homes may not be as great as anticipated.

No one is taking chances. St. Johns River Water Management District anticipates water shortages by 2020 if utilities continue to operate as they do now and the population rises as expected. Other concerns include ample roads, utilities, police services, schools, parks and affordable housing. Environmentalists are weighing in, objecting to projects they say encroach on pristine lands. Already, some developments are stalled pending the widening of County Road 210. Some county officials worry because residential developments don't pay for themselves, costing more in services than they produce in tax revenues. With industrial use a meager 1.1% of the county's tax base, officials want more manufacturing, but the county's job base is dominated by low-paying service and tourism work. - Jane Tanner

JACKSINVILLE Available office sites of 50,000 square feet or more are in short supply, according to a report by commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis. Developments expected to come online next year should meet some of the demand.

Gran Central Corp., its real estate assets now managed by St. Joe Co., (NYSE-JOE), is expanding its south Jacksonville business park by investing $100 million to build 1 million square feet of additional office space. The first tenant, scheduled to move in next summer, will be Bombardier Capital, the financing arm of transportation equipment manufacturer Bombardier Inc. of Montreal.

St. Joe Co. purchased Goodman Segar Hogan Hoffler LP, a Norfolk, Va.-based real estate services company. Goodman Segar has offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Richmond, Va., and Research Triangle Park, N.C. Separately, St. Joe canceled plans to build and operate nationwide entertainment centers with the National Football League.

Leatherware manufacturer Coach is adding 205,000 square feet to its Jacksonville International Tradeport distribution warehouse and may create up to 100 new jobs by next summer. Also at the tradeport, international consumer finance company Household Corp. this month planned to open a customer-service call center, employing 400 by the end of 1999.

Regency Realty (NYSE-REG) plans to merge next month with Dallas-based Pacific Retail Trust, also a big player in grocery store-anchored strip centers. The merged companies, retaining the Regency name and trading symbol, will have $2.2 billion in assets and 192 retail centers. Employment at Jacksonville headquarters will remain about 265 with growth in the satellite offices.

Southeast Toyota Distributors is asking for $15 million in incentives to keep its operations here. Jacksonville City Council planned to vote on the incentives this fall.

LEVY COUNTY - Fishing village Cedar Key expects an economic boost when film crews from Warner Brothers and actor Jim Carrey spend about 20 days there in January and February filming a remake of "The Incredible Mr. Limpet."

MARION COUNTY - Ocala Regional Medical Center and Munroe Regional Medical Center say they need more beds to stem overcrowding. The Agency for Health Care Administration is expected to decide next month if Munroe can add about 100 beds and Ocala Regional another 50.

NASSAU COUNTY - More than $13 million in roadwork on Amelia Island Parkway and two sections of County Road 108 is underway.

The Amelia River is Florida's most polluted, according to the Florida Public Interest Research Group, which claims that paper and pulp mills Jefferson Smurfit and Rayonier dumped 4.5 million pounds of waste into the river between 1992 and 1996.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH Publicly held golf club maker Snake Eyes Golf Clubs filed for bankruptcy this fall.

ST. AUGUSTINE - Orlando-based Kessler Enterprise will complete a $15 million restoration of the circa-1888, 138-room Casa Monica hotel by late next summer.