EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.
Fernandina Beach is one of the nation’s oldest cities, but it is growing again — like a stately oak tree in springtime.
And the growth spurt is not limited by the city limits. In total, more than 300 new homes are planned for 400-year-old Fernandina Beach and adjoining parcels of unincorporated Amelia Island.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Yulee, some 500 new home sites are approved or pending approval, according to county officials. Several existing neighborhoods like Plummer Creek on State Highway 200 are resuming construction, while new developments are beginning along the Amelia Concourse.
In all, between Amelia Island and Yulee, the number of planned new homes approaches 1,000. And this does not even include future development within Rayonier’s vast Terra Pointe project — practically in the middle of Yulee.
The return of new-home construction follows a brutal collapse in housing that began in 2007 and 2008. Construction practically halted during and after that period, marked by the national financial crisis.
However, the recent rebound in homebuilding here has been swift. Major and minor homebuilders are joining in the development party.
Within Fernandina Beach, “The Dunes of Amelia” subdivision fronts Bailey Road and will feature 70 homes in the initial phase. There is undeclared space for another 30 or 40 homes later, judging from the development map.
Homes in the 2,000 to 3,000 square-foot range will start at $350,000 in price there. In their promotional material, the developers boast that children living in “The Dunes of Amelia” neighborhood “will attend the highly regarded Nassau County School System.”
Construction is also rapidly underway at the new “Amelia Oaks” subdivision on Sadler Road. There, 40 new homes are planned with prices beginning at $400,000 within a tidy enclave.
Outside the city limits, in unincorporated Amelia Island, there are 200 more planned homes. They are:
— Plantation Hammock: Nine home sites on the corner of Simmons Road and Amelia Road.
— Ocean Breeze of Amelia: 110 home sites along South 14th near the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport. Homes starting at $400,000.
— MacArthur Estates: A projected 15 lots at the Buccaneer Trail and Canopy Drive intersection.
— Preserve at Summer Beach: Some 27 lots are still available there within an existing project.
— River Bend: Though not approved yet, the subdivision will consist of 34 home sites (located across from The Dunes of Amelia along Hearth Road).
There is still more to come — in Yulee. Along with Plummer Creek, there are new houses planned for Lumber Creek along Harts Road, as well as Timber Lake (82 homes) and Harbor Concourse (56 sites) along the Amelia Concourse.
And there is another positive development. National homebuilders like D.R. Horton are buying some of these lots in Yulee with renewed interest, as are smaller developers.
For instance, a St. Augustine developer has purchased a visible commercial site — the old Murray’s Grill restaurant location along State Road 200. According to reports, the existing Murray’s Grill structure will be torn down and replaced with a larger 7,500-square-foot building, housing three retail stores along with a small restaurant.
So not just Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island are growing. Yulee has a potent growth recipe of its own.