The eight-court, tournament-style complex is scheduled to open on April 15 at the Fernandina Beach, Fla. property.
On April 15, ICI Homes will open an eight-court, tournament-style tennis complex at Amelia National Golf & Country Club, a gated development in Fernandina Beach, Fla. where the company is managing partner, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Daily Record reported.
It’s a $250,000 investment in a community that has seen just a trickle of growth since 2006, but where the builder recently opened a model home on March 5, the Daily Record reported.
“We’ve started seeing traction to where we can say, ‘OK, it’s not a fluke,’” said Rosy Messina, Vice President of Marketing for ICI Homes. “We felt it was time to invest with brand new product.”
A year ago, Joe Mattingly, a tennis pro and 30-year tennis instructor who’d operated clubs in other communities, approached ICI Homes, the Daily Record reported. He’d noticed there was no top-class tennis facility at Amelia Island, and wanted to bring one to Amelia National.
While the community already had three Har-Tru tennis courts for residents, Mattingly wanted eight, all with lights for evening play. Also, he wanted to operate the facility as a private club, where non-residents could be members and where tournaments between other clubs in the region could be held.
ICI Homes struck the deal and began construction. In addition to the courts, Amelia National Tennis Center will include a pro shop staffed by four tennis pros.
In terms of quality, the new facility will have peers in the market, the Daily Record noted, such as the tennis center at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.
The difference for Amelia National, said Greg Brousse, the club’s Managing Director, is that it will be a true private tennis club, with no hotel guests. “This is for your tennis leagues and the members you go to play with,” Brousse told the Daily Record.
The activity has already brought tennis players from South Georgia, Orange Park, Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra, the Daily Record reported.
When Amelia National first launched in 2005, the Daily Record noted, the housing market in northeast Florida was red hot. Lots were getting pricy in Duval County and developers were looking to the perimeter for land, including north into Nassau County.
Amelia National, a golf community with 749 homes planned at build-out, opened in the spring in 2005 and sold 50 homes almost immediately, the Daily Record reported. A year later, the community unveiled an $8 million “rolling hills” golf course, designed by Tom Fazio, followed by a $10 million clubhouse in the fall.
Then, the recession hit and the company hunkered down.
“We said, ‘Let’s make sure nothing slips, and be ready when the market starts to show life again,’” said David Haas, ICI Homes’ chief development officer.
Home sales continued slowly, the Daily Record reported. So far, about 150 have been built.
As the recovery began to take hold in nearby counties, Nassau County waited, the Daily Record reported. Last year, home construction starts in the county climbed to 400. But there are still nearly 3,000 vacant and developed lots on the ground—almost an eight-year supply, according to industry analyst Metrostudy.
But ICI Homes saw something different begin to develop in 2014, the Daily Record reported.
“Our sales have crept up every year,” Messina said “But it was this last spring that we said, ‘Aha, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, let’s get ready.’”
Their instincts proved right. In the last four months, sales were better than the previous 12 months, the Daily Record reported.
Punctuating the tennis center’s construction, ICI Homes has built and month opened a new model, the Egret II. It’s the company’s most popular home design, the Daily Record reported.
“It’s all on one story, and it lays out beautifully for entertaining,” Messina said.
Amelia National lies along Amelia Concourse, which has become ““very much the happening corridor right now,” Haas told the Daily Record, with Lowe’s, Home Depot and a Publix shopping center all having been recently developed or redeveloped, along with a new movie theater.