Is this the first domino in the realization of the city’s vision for what Town Center is to become?
After nearly two decades of talking, planning and — ultimately — running into stumbling blocks, the first project in the new Innovation District of Town Center celebrated its groundbreaking ceremony on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 22.
Representatives from the city of Palm Coast, as well as those involved in developing the project, broke ground on a 9.12-acre lot at 470 Bulldog Drive that will eventually become The Palms at Town Center, an 88-unit apartment complex that will include a clubhouse, pool, dog park, volleyball area and nature path.
The Palms development, which is expected to be completed in 2020, is the first domino to fall in the realization of the vision for what city officials hope Town Center will become.
The initial plan for Town Center was created in 2004, according to Palm Coast Administrative Services and Economic Development Director Beau Falgout. The goal was to create a vibrant “downtown area” that would be an epicenter for work, entertainment, art, design, education and more.
That plan came to a screeching halt in 2008 due to the recession. Regardless, the vision remained.
“And now, it’s coming back to life,” Falgout said.
The master plan has since been revised with a smaller emphasis on retail. Due to the increase in online shopping, Falgout said, there isn’t as much of a need for retail developments.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the demand for diverse housing, which the city hopes to address with the construction of The Palms.
Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland envisions it being a “walkable community.”
“A lot of planning went into the strategies of Town Center on how we start to develop it in a very strategic way, taking advantage of the partners we have, focusing on the areas of employment,” she said. “It really is a place for residents to come and enjoy our community as one, get to know our neighbors.”
Holland added that the city has seen interest from the private sector and hospital system, as a result. There are also hopes for a higher education campus and a school district pipeline for job opportunities.
“We are seeing unbelievable interest like we’ve never seen before,” she said. “We’re extremely confident that this is going to be the start of extremely exciting things. We’ve actively looked at recruiting different elements of our vision, and this is one component we can be very proud of.”
Those in attendance at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony believe the development will kick off the development of the rest of the Town Center area.
One of the developers on the project, Jeff Douglas, owner of Douglas Property and Development Inc., said there are plans to construct a 231-unit complex in about a month. Other projects are currently in the planning process and have not yet been announced.
“A lot of forward, smart thinking has gone into this,” he said. “This is just the start.”
He added: “You can take the curtain away. Town Center is off and running.”
Sam Perkovich became one of the Innovation District’s first business owners when she moved her business, ParkSide Realty Group there.
She’s excited at the prospect of the continued development of Town Center and what it could mean for her business.
“You can live there, work there, play there,” she said. “It’s got to start somewhere.”