Northeast Florida Roundup
Replenishing housing inventory in northeast Florida
Low inventory is spurring a surge in building.
A relatively low inventory of homes is prompting development throughout the northeast region. Among the hottest markets are the beaches areas, followed by older areas near downtown Jacksonville, including Riverside, Avondale and San Marcos.
“Things are the best they have been in the past 10 years. Houses are flying off the shelf,” says Sally Suslak, president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, which has 6,000 members in Baker, Clay, Duval, St. Johns, Putnam and Nassau counties. Sales trends, she believes, will continue strong through next year.
“If a property hits the market and it is priced where it should be priced, it is going to sell pretty quickly,” she says.
Developers such as David A. Smith, president of the Florida Division of AV Homes, are aggressively building single-family homes in Jacksonville, Amelia Island and Nocatee. According to the 2014 Census, the area is one of the fastest growing in the state, and Smith says the current inventory of single family homes is not enough to meet demand.
One of AV’s developments, Old Still, is an 80-acre community of 124 single-family homes across the road from a popular Jacksonville shopping and dining center, St. Johns Town Center. AV Homes purchased the property, the site of a former turpentine mill, from the Skinner family. Smith calls the area “the hole in the doughnut” amid surrounding development.
His company also is building Stone Creek, a 44-home, 39-acre addition in Jacksonville, plus Amelia Walk, an 80-home planned community on Amelia Island in Nassau County. It has built homes in St. Johns County in the Cypress Trails neighborhood in Ponte Vedra Beach. Prices between $300,000 and $500,000 are drawing empty nesters and those looking to move into a new home.
Meanwhile, another developer, GreenPointe Communities, is building a 2,276-home addition near the World Golf Village in St. Johns County.
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida’s Newell Hall is getting a $16.5-million makeover expected to be complete by 2017. Sportody, an online review network for outdoor sports and adventures that graduated from UF’s Innovation Hub, has opened its second office in Boston. The University of Florida College of Medicine has opened the $46-million George T Harrell M.D. Medical Education Building. The building will enable students to have handson experience in exam rooms and patient rooms that resemble those at UF Health Shands Hospital. Donations covered $31 million of the building’s cost, with the school borrowing the rest of the money, says David Guzick, senior vice president of health affairs at UF and president of UF Health.
JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund has signed off on a pension reform deal approved by the city council, ending a fight that began seven years ago. The proposal changes retirement benefits for new employees and those with fewer than 20 years of service. The city will pay an additional $350 million over the next 13 years toward its $1.62-billion pension obligations. The city has yet to determine a funding source, however. Gov. Rick Scott and city leaders have kicked off the $43.5-million Mile Point Harbor improvement project, which will remove navigation restrictions on the St. Johns River where it meets the Intracoastal Waterway. Alluvion Staffing, a Jacksonville-based professional staffing service, has merged with Reichard Staffing and RDW Professional Staffing to create the largest privately owned staffing company in northeast Florida. Alluvion President and CEO David Reichard declined to disclose the terms of the deal. Baptist Health has purchased the duPont Center’s two buildings for $16 million from Flagler Development. > The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company, are collaborating on a lung restoration center. Executives say the center could double the number of lungs available for transplant in the United States, using a treatment that makes some formerly unsuitable lungs transplantable. The company plans to build a three-story building. Mayo will provide physician support and will process and deliver lungs. > One Spark, the downtown crowd funding festival, has laid off six employees, and a seventh employee resigned in what executives are calling a restructuring. Attendance at the festival has doubled, but it continues to report deficits.
LIVE OAK — International Mulch has opened its fourth manufacturing and distribution center in Suwannee County. The $700,000 expansion will add 15 jobs. The company uses all recycled products for landscaping and playgrounds.
MAYPORT — The city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority have tentatively agreed to split the $1.8-million cost of an inspection and overhaul of the St. Johns River Ferry.
ST. AUGUSTINE — The St. Johns County School Board will ask taxpayers to pay an additional half-cent sales tax to build more schools. If the county commission approves, voters will vote in November whether to impose the tax, which would bring in $13 million a year for 10 years. St. Augustine residents Wolfgang and Miki Schau have donated two large lion sculptures for the east side of the Bridge of Lions as part of the 450th commemoration of the founding of the city. The sculptures are copies of the two lion sculptures at the west end of the bridge created in 1927.
Jay H. Nussbaum has been named chairman of Jacksonville based Drone Aviation Holding. He replaces Maj. Gen. Wayne Jackson, who is retiring but will remain a director of the company
Terry Suggs, formerly city manager in Keystone Heights, has been hired as Palatka city manager.
Scott DeVito, a professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, has been named dean. He succeeds Peter Goplerud, who stepped down two years ago to become president of the InLaw management services company, the consortium that runs Florida Coastal.