Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growth to the North Home Development Hits Nassau County

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Growth to the North Home Development Hits Nassau County

Article excerpt

With the massive developments planned for Duval and St. Johns counties getting a lot of attention, it's easy to overlook the quiet growth going on to the north in Nassau County.

There are only about 40 homes in the Oyster Bay residential development, for example, but over the next four years the community is expected to grow to include as many as 150 single-family homes, 130 townhomes, a 108-slip marina, a yacht club and a restaurant.

Not far away, the 66-unit first phase of Amelia Park is taking shape; plans call for a total of 421 residences and 70,000 square feet of commercial retail space.

From 1993 to 1997, the number of single-family housing starts in Nassau County increased by about 31 percent, according to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.

Several things make the area prime for residential development.

"You can get a little bit more for your money here if you are a developer, in terms of land price," said Ken Willette, executive director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board.

And there's still plenty of rural land available to plop down large residential communities with access to creeks and rivers that channel into the Intracoastal Waterway.

"Most of that kind of land is gone and the affordability of the land is an issue," said Joel Embree, president of Fernandina Beach-based Hometown Neighborhoods Inc., which is developing Amelia Park.

The land may be cheap by comparison, but recent interest in Nassau County housing has helped increase home prices, said Phil Catanzaro, director of sales and marketing for Summer Beach Realty, an Amelia Island company that markets the Summer Beach resort community there.

At the 105-unit Ocean Place condominium development south of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, for instance, prices have more than doubled in two years. …

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