Davidson Realty, Inc. and Realtor Shelley Nemethy are preparing to launch a World Golf Speaker Series to provide real estate related information to all WGV residents (and future residents)!

Each quarterly event will be held at Davidson’s headquarters in World Golf Village and include a featured speaker and refreshments provided by Bank of England.

The dates the 2017 World Golf Speaker Series are as follows:
Tuesday, March 7 (6-7 p.m.)
Tuesday, June 6 (6-7 p.m.)
Tuesday, September 5 (6-7 p.m.)

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One thing that is true for most start up businesses and real estate projects is that timing is everything. The real estate business is known for it’s cyclical nature and fortunately in the case of WGV, the project actually hit the cycle just about perfect. Don’t get me wrong! With the wildfires just after the Grand Opening, the initial perceived remoteness of the site, and the almost immediate shift of the project residential market from resort/second home to primary housing; we encountered an enormous amount of challenges in the first few years of project sales and operations. Fortunately for the project, each issue was addressed successfully.

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As previously mentioned, the formal closing of the WGV Partners and related start date was in August, 1996. The projected first phase costs were in excess of $350,000,000 and included the following:

 
 
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After the name and concept had been determined, all that was left to do was find a hotelier, a timeshare developer, a retail developer, a golf course developer and a group of builders who would buy into the World Golf Hall of Fame concept and of course convince St. Johns County to support a convention center at the hotel!  It was imperative that all partners be willing to trust each other enough to construct their respective facilities simultaneously for a project Grand Opening. One thing was for sure, this was not a project for corporate America or any of the pension fund investors.

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Once Deane Beman made the decision to locate the PGA TOUR Hall of Fame at the Saint Johns project, the specific details of the project components needed to be formalized. The original PGA TOUR Hall of Fame project concept was relatively small in terms of required development acreage with only one 18-hole golf course, a 350 resort room hotel and the 28,000 sq.ft. PGA TOUR Hall of Fame. The permitted Hall of Fame development area in the Saint Johns project was 82.0 acres, substantially more acreage than was required for the PGA Hall of Fame and a 350 room resort hotel. In addition, while the project concept had been decided upon, the source and amount of funding required for initial construction and future operations had not been identified.

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As previously discussed, “St. Johns Harbour” was permitted in 1986 with no specific development concept in mind other than lots of development rights on lots of acres. From 1986 until 1991, the project evolved into a resort oriented community anchored by the proposed PGA TOUR Hall of Fame. The PGA TOUR Hall of Fame was conceived by the then Commissioner of the PGA TOUR – Mr. Deane Beman. In 1990, Deane decided it was time for the TOUR to have its own Hall of Fame. The PGA of America had its Hall of Fame in Pinehurst, NC. With the TOUR’s headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL., Deane decided the TOUR’s Hall of Fame facility needed to be located somewhere in the First Coast area (preferably south of Jacksonville, FL). The reasoning was quite simple: 1) The proximity to PGA TOUR headquarters would facilitate project management. 2) Being south of Jacksonville on I-95 would capture all of the I-95/I-10/I-295 tourist traffic destined for South Florida. 3) Locating in the city of Jacksonville would provide an opportunity to solicit governmental financial support due to the project’s anticipated impact on local tourism.

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Despite taking over two (2) years to complete and costing $3.5 million, the Modification of Development Approvals and Environmental Permitting process experience was not that bad. Involved in the process were St. Johns County (SJC), Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council (NEFRPC) and the State of Florida – Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The DCA also coordinates with other state agencies such as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

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As previously indicated, there were 1,300 acres of land that had been included in the project approval process, but not acquired by the investors. Since almost 100% of the property to be acquired was adjoining the proposed interchange, the land acquisitions required for development also included  acreage to construct the new interchange. A clover-leaf design interchange needs approximately 100 acres to be constructed and would encompass 80± acres upon completion. Once the ownerships were determined and title issues identified, the acquisition effort began. All of the land owners were well aware of the “increased” value of their property as permitted. It is clearly an understatement to say that it was unfortunate that the land was not put under contract prior to being permitted. Previously discussed verbal understandings of value didn’t mean much once the permits were issued. As such, the negotiations were extremely difficult. Fortunately many of the landowners had substantial additional acreage in proximity to the required acquisition acreage. Therefore, it was clearly in their best interest to see the project built for their future land values. Acreage acquisitions were as small as 7.1 acres up to over 1,000 acres.

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A month after our meeting in New York we met with the investors in Memphis to present our findings and recommendations. Since our previous meeting, we had completed an extensive review of the following project files:

  1. Land ownership maps for the approved project acreage not previously contracted for or purchased by the investors. Included correspondence files covering previously held discussions between the investors and the land owners.
  2. Application for Development Approval (ADA)
  3. Final Development Order for the Development of Regional Impact (DRI)
  4. Interchange Justification Report
  5. Environmental Impact Report prepared by the project environmental consultants

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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.

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