In what would be one of the largest developments in Palm Coast, a company is applying to build up to 750 upscale single-family homes in a Grand Haven-like gated community over 500 acres stretching from State Road 100 north, parallel to Old Kings Road.
The development, called Coquina Shores, would wrap around the Kings Pointe commercial development at the corner of SR100 and Old Kings Road and encompass a vast, jaggedly rectangular swath of land up to the Lehigh Canal near Town Center Boulevard, south of Graham Swamp and the Hidden Lakes/Toscana subdivisions. There would only be an emergency exit onto Old Kings Road.
That means all regular traffic would be channeled through State Road 100. The development is called Coquina Shores because one of its central feature is a huge, old coquina borrow pit, and now a lake, giving the name its authenticity.
Current plans, obtained by FlaglerLive, call for minimum lot sizes of 40 feet wide on 4,800 square-foot lots and homes of 1,200 square feet, with side-yard setbacks of just five feet. The smaller lots and smaller homes reflect the trend of the last few years, with homeowners looking for less space to manage. But the smaller lots have been a flashpoint for existing residents who turn up in opposition to such new developments, as was the case with the recent opposition to the successor to Eagle Lakes, now called Radiance, further south on Old Kings Road. There, the opposition focused in part on 40- and 50-foot lots. (An earlier version of this article had incorrectly reported that there are no 40-foot lots planned there.) The County Commission approved the Radiance development, a 1,200-home subdivision, in July.
The Coquina Shores development is not a new idea. It is a revived, significantly scaled back version of a plan first submitted by JX Properties in 2006 and revised in 2007 that projected a total of 2,411 homes–619 of them single family and 1,792 apartment units in towers rising up to 100 feet. That plan also entailed filling in parts of the lake.
The developer of the new proposal is Heartwood4 LLC of Fort Lauderdale, the successor corporation of JX Palm Coast Land, under whose name most of the documentation continues. JX Properties, which had an $11.55 million mortgage on the 507 acres (which encompass three parcels), went into foreclosure in 2010. The principal address of both corporations remains the same. By then Palm Coast government had approved JX Properties’ Development of Regional Impact, or DRI, the sort of land-use plan that allows for specific regulations on massive developments. Grand Haven and Hammock Dunes are DRIs.
The renewed application, which would go before the Palm Coast planning board in the next few months, is for a Master Planned Development, or MPD, which also gives the local government authority to regulate and condition development. The 750-home figure is a maximum. The development could fall anywhere between 600 and 750 homes. Either way, it would still be among the larger developments in the city.
The application was filed even as interest rates have doubled in the past year, pricing out a large chunk of homebuyers from the market and sharply curtailing what had been a renewed housing boom locally and across the country.
“My job is to get entitlements,” Jay Livingston, the Palm Coast attorney representing the developer, said today in response to a question about rising interest rates’ effect on the project. “The guys that ultimately figure out how to build things are concerned with that. If it becomes a reality, a long term reality, we’re going to have to to learn how to live with it. We can’t stop building houses.”
The 2007 plan had proposed 50,000 square feet of retail and 30,000 square feet of office space, plus a 150-foot hotel, with land set aside for a school and 2 acres for a fire station. The developer was to contribute half the cost of a fire engine that would have ladder capabilities to reach higher floors of high-rises.
The current plan includes no land for commercial or retail space and no school site. Although the current MPD application doesn’t spell that out, the aim is to have an age-restricted community for residents 55 and older, Livingston said. That would relieve pressure on the school district for additional classroom space.
Coquina Shores would also be its own Community Development District, a government within a government with an elected board. It would have its own stormwater system. Its streets would remain private, and the development’s responsibility to maintain, and will have street lighting, some of it solar-powered. The development would have “pocket parks” and its own recreation facilities. Fire and police services would still be the city’s and county’s responsibilities.
The Coquina Shores plan does not yet include estimates of the additional traffic the development will bring. But it’ll certainly be lower than the 17,000 daily vehicle trips the 2007 plan had projected. The 2007 plans had seen an intersection near Town Center Boulevard to accommodate its traffic, but only with that segment of Old Kings Road enlarged to four lanes. That plan is still on the back burner for the city. With just two lanes, “it would actually be dangerous to put a connection there because it’ll be offset to the Town Centre connection,” Livingston said–even with a scaled back development.
The land wraps around the acreage owned by Walmart, with long-ago abandoned plans for a supercenter there. Livingston has been in contact with Walmart representatives, because Coquina Shores had to negotiate an emergency access road through the Walmart property. “Their intentions for the property, I don’t know,” Livingston said. “I got the impression when I explained to them the development activity that they might be interested in doing something there, but as far as I know, it’s still being marketed. And if Walmart doesn’t build it, then I assume that they would probably not sell it to somebody that would build a comparable use. They’re not going to sell to a competitor. So it’s really anybody’s guess what’s going to end up on that property, which is really unfortunate.”
The Walmart property, however, is also a reminder of how market conditions can change any plan’s trajectory.
Even if Coquina Shores is slowed down, construction’s timing should not be confused with the regulatory steps that first must take place, he said. “The biggest mistake that was made after the last the crash, the Great Recession crash, was that development orders expired, entitlements became not readily available to go straight to plat or site plan,” Livingston said. “So when the demand picked up, the inventory was just immediately gone. And that’s now a direct contribution to housing costs, rental rates, all the economic kind of pressures we’re facing here, which could have been avoided had there been entitlements in waiting for development.”
Securing those entitlements in the regulatory process is laborious and time-consuming. It follows its own timetable, irrespective of housing demand. And development orders expire. So when a downturn occurs, halting development plans, developers have to go through some of the process all over again to move toward construction. The aim in the present case is to get as far ahead as possible, enabling construction when appropriate.
The city requires developers to host a neighborhood meeting for property owners within a 300-foot radius of a proposed development. That meeting has not yet been scheduled. it would be extended mostly to owners of vacant land and businesses.CONCEPT PLAN_Coqunia-Shores-MPD2-9-20-22