Highlights of historic Fernandina, the beaches, and coastal nature at Florida-Georgia border.

Yulee Growth: New Homes, Traffic & Commuting

Many people relocate to Florida to be near the coast and the beaches. Here in northeast Florida, Yulee is a growing community of Nassau County, located on the mainland — the nearest, largest community in the vicinity of Amelia Island.

For those thinking about moving, a few things are usually a factor, such as affordability and lifestyle. For those not yet retired, jobs and commuting time is also a consideration.

According to Nassau County School District data, the majority of growth in the county over the last decade or so has been in the Yulee area. Consider that Yulee has reportedly experienced more than double the number of new dwelling units (4,800), since 2006, as the remaining Nassau County district areas combined.

Locally, one of the first decisions movers make is whether to live ON or OFF Amelia Island. Those choosing to live off the island often locate in neighborhoods east of I-95. For commuters, it’s about a 30-45 minute drive to Jacksonville jobs from Yulee (depending on how far south into JAX one goes). The downtown Jacksonville corporate area right on the St. Johns River is the closest/largest job marketplace.

Neighborhoods

new-homes-construction-yulee-amelia-national-golf-club
Many of the newer homes off-island are concentrated in the large subdivisions along the Amelia Concourse roadway, off State Road 200/A1A. These neighborhoods include the gated community, Amelia National Golf & Country Club, the Golf Club at North Hampton, Flora Parke, Amelia Walk, the Amelia Concourse subdivision, Timberlake and Harbor Concourse.

Even though this Amelia Concourse area is off Amelia Island (an area formerly considered Yulee), some off island neighborhoods have attained a “Fernandina Beach” mailing address with zip code 32034, instead of Yulee zip code 32097. However, newcomers in the neighborhoods noted above are zoned for Yulee schools, not Fernandina Beach schools on Amelia Island (this is subject to change). Note that potential Nassau County home buyers with kids should always confirm school zoning with the Nassau County School District 904-491-9900. School zoning changes were made in 2017 affecting some Yulee/Fernandina Beach residents living off the island.

Commuting & Traffic

A large percentage of Nassau County, Florida’s working residents commute to employment located outside of Nassau. With the growing traffic of State Road 200/A1A (read more about this further below), many of those commuting to employment outside of Nassau County seem to choose living in neighborhoods closer to Interstate 95. There’s also the affordability factor, with home buyers typically able get more house for less when locating in neighborhoods off Amelia Island on the mainland.

Beach Within 30 Minutes

Amelia Island Beaches, Atlantic Ocean Shoreline
Amelia Island Beaches, Atlantic Ocean Shoreline

Those heading north to the Kings Bay, Georgia Navy base can also save a bit of time in daily routines by living in Yulee area vs. on Amelia Island. Yulee living still allows for getting to the beach in a half hour or less (or will once the A1A road construction is completed). Arriving at the seashore in 30 minutes actually seems a short ride for those used to spending two or more hours in a car to reach a beach in the past.

State Road 200/A1A

The increases in traffic along the main A1A corridor between Interstate 95 and Amelia Island’s Shave Bridge has not gone unnoticed, especially by residents who have lived here for a few decades or a lifetime. Looking back twenty five years, from the I-95 exit heading east on A1A, one could have said “the coast is clear.” Back then, drivers could get off I-95, cruise along A1A and easily arrive on the island in 15 minutes or less.

As a result of the area’s growth, including retail, residential, and tourism since the early 1990s, it’s a different experience now along this east/west route. Many new home developments and commercial projects have sprouted up over the years. Adding to traffic woes is a huge road construction project along State Road 200/A1A. (Read more about road construction further below and watch video about the future “Diverging Diamond Interchange” at I-95).

Yulee Shopping

Also drawing traffic to the Yulee area is Nassau County’s largest shopping concentration where A1A intersects the Amelia Concourse and Chester Road. This is where big box retailers have located (including Target, Home Depot, Kohl’s, T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress For Less, and Jo-Ann Fabrics). Plus many other retailers like Ulta Beauty and franchise restaurants such as Panera Bread, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Chili’s. This shopping district is also the location of the AMC Yulee 10-screen movie theatre and the second Publix location in Nassau County.

Population Growth

Nassau County, Florida’s population is on track to have doubled in a 30-year period through 2020. This is based on a population of 43,941 (as of the 1990 U.S. Census), to the 2020 population projection (a range of 84,500 (medium) to 89,600 (high), according to the Bureau of Economics & Business Research Population Studies. Note that Nassau County’s most recent U.S. Census population estimate for the year 2016 is 80,622.

Wildlight Community

With the emergence of a huge, new community near I-95 in Yulee, called Wildlight (the new Wildlight elementary school opened in August 2017 and the first new home models are coming soon), it seems likely future growth/new home units may be concentrated around the Wildlight area. Read related article, “Yulee Growth, Emergence of Wildlight.”

Still Far Less Crowded Than JAX

The US Census population estimate for Duval County (2016) was 926,255, or 1,215 people per square mile. By comparison, Nassau County has 124 people per square mile (2016 Census). When choosing between living in Jacksonville vs. Nassau County, some prefer this much less populated area of northeast Florida. Nassau’s public schools also rate in the top tier of Florida’s 67 districts statewide.

Road Construction Underway

The work being done on A1A is to expand the existing four lanes to six, needed to accommodate area growth. The State Road 200 construction completion estimate extends into the year 2019.

State Road 200 (A1A) Road Widening Construction, Yulee, FL
State Road 200 (A1A) Road Widening, Yulee, FL

New FDOT Diverging Diamond

More road construction is coming. A “Diverging Diamond Interchange” is to be built at the Amelia Island/Yulee I-95 Exit 373. The Florida Department of Transportation’s “Diverging Diamond Interchange” construction project is projected to take a few years to be completed (perhaps by sometime in 2020.)

Watch the FDOT video below. See what the futures holds for this area of Nassau County, FL and Interstate 95. This “Diverging Diamond Interchange” is said to be the first of its kind for the northeast Florida region.

Live, Work, Play?

Commuting, while commonplace, can be a less attractive option than the “live, work, play” ideal. Nassau County, and Yulee in particular, is a focus of the Nassau County Economic Development Board’s efforts to attract businesses/employers.

Corporations continue to be courted, efforts are underway to lure company relocations and business expansions to Nassau. Employees can enjoy a more laid back coastal lifestyle, while Florida’s more friendly business climate is appealing to companies big and small.

The pace of growth goes hand in hand with supply and demand and a cyclical real estate industry. It’s been a rising Florida real estate market for several years. How long the current upward trend continues, remains to be seen. But continued growth of Nassau County over the long term seems inevitable.

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