The Palm Coast City Council last week approved a 66-home development, phase 1 of a gated development that will eventually total 161 houses and duplexes in what’ll be called The Retreat at Town Center, on land just north of the Publix on Central Avenue and east of Belle Terre Parkway.
The 40-acre project is north of where Market Avenue dead-ends for now, though the road will be extended and branch out onto roads with names like Mahogany Way, Mulberry Road, Magnolia Point and Huxley Avenue. The roads bordered by 5-foot-wide sidewalks will be built by the developer and remain privately held and maintained by the homeowners’ association. There will be no access point from Belle Terre Parkway.
The subdivision master plan was submitted and approved by the city’s planning board last year. The preliminary plat was approved and the engineering and construction plans completed. Most of the infrastructure is in place, and construction has started, leaving a final step in the development process–the final plat–which the council approved with no discussion and no public comment last Tuesday.
Fort Washington, Penn.-based Toll Southeast acquired the land in 2020 for just under $1.5 million. The development foresees two future construction phases–yet to be platted–further filling in the tracts, whose northeastern portion abuts the city’s evolving tennis courts and Southern Recreational Center.
The development had previously been called the Palm Coast Tennis Pod when it was presented to the planning board in April 2021, with 65 single-family homes and 96 duplexes (which the developer is calling “paired villas) on 96 acres, as a city planner described it to the board. The single-family homes are to be on 50-foot-wide lots, the paired villas on 38-foot-wide lots per unit (or 76 feet for both). The plan at the time proposed three amenity areas, including a boardwalk to the tennis center and a canoe and kayak launch into a lake.
Toll brothers are national builders with “a pretty high end product,” as an engineer on the project told the board. So it is not workforce or affordable housing. The houses will be between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet, in what is presented as a walkable development, buffered from its surroundings.
James Albano, one of the planning board members and a Palm Coast resident for 48 years expressed his disappointment at the smaller lots in plans that appeared before the board monthly. “It’s hard to create good architecture when you can build a 30-foot wide house,” he said. “So I really urge staff and future developers to kind of rethink. Palm Coast is a great place to live, but we just don’t need to be on top of everybody. And then, on top of this, today I’ve learned a new name for a duplex: a ‘paired villa.’ It’s a duplex.”
But Albano’s plaint was a cry in a diminishing wilderness: planning and development in Palm Coast as in much of the nation has moved on from the large single-family home lots toward smaller, denser developments as older homeowners downsize and prefer less property to maintain.
The planning board voted 6-1 to approve the application. The council last week was unanimous in approving the final plat.