The History of the World Golf Village – Part II “Concept vs Reality” by Developer Jim Davidson

Posted by: Jim Davidson in News

Conceptually, the St. Johns’ Harbour project, as approved had, few attributes. Fortunately, the project did have significant exposure to I-95 and the granted approvals preceded the implementation of the 1985 Growth Management Act/Concurrency in St. Johns County, which implied the project would be vested from this yet to be implemented law. Finding a way to capitalize on these two project “attributes” was going to be the key to meeting the investor’s goals and objectives.

In preparation of our recommended strategy presentation in Memphis, we focused on those issues we felt, if not immediately addressed, could stop the project from becoming a reality. Due to the negotiated nature of the approval process, the approvals granted a project might or might not be financially feasible to implement or even be responsive to market needs by the time the process is finalized. In the case of the St. Johns’ Harbour project a great deal of what was approved was not financially feasible to construct nor responsive to existing or anticipated market conditions. A specific example was the approved residential density of 13,835 units. After taking out acreage required for the commercial, industrial and office uses the maximum residential units to be constructed could not exceed 7,500 units. The extra unbuildable units, which had been negotiated for and approved, resulted in substantial offsite and on-site infrastructure costs which strongly affected the overall project feasibility.

We identified the following issues as critical in developing our overall recommended strategy.

1. Complete acquisition and/or control of all properties subject to the development approvals.
• List all property owners and document historical
conversations/agreements with these owners prior to project approvals being granted.
• Determine maximum pricing for properties to be acquired.
• Determine impact of exclusion of any approved properties from future development.

2. Identify any title issues including easements, mineral leases and  timber rights impacting properties subject to the development approvals.
• Determine process, cost and success probability of clearing title issues that affect the development potential of all approved property.

3. Complete review of Development of Regional Impact (DRI) approvals to determine required modifications to match approvals for a financially viable project.
• List all required modifications and cost to complete.

4. Determine anticipated project environmental impacts and related agencies – Federal, State, Regional and County.
• Determine whether environment permitting should be on a phase-by-phase basis or permitted as a total project.
• Estimate environmental impacts on net buildable acreage.

5. Determine final interchange concept (clover-leaf vs diamond) with FDOT – District 2
• Determine required acreage to construct interchange based on design requirement.
• Identify interchange properties to be acquired based on the required acreage analysis for approved design.
• Identify title issues affecting proposed interchange property.
• Determine property ownerships of acreage to be acquired.
• Identify approval process at local, state and federal levels to permit interchange construction.
• Estimate cost to purchase land and construct interchange.

6. Analyze existing and anticipated market conditions within the First Coast MSA and identify any potential project anchors.

7. Analyze financing options to include equity and debt.

Once the above mentioned action items were completed a formalized recommendation would be made to the investors.


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