While recently built St. Augustine-area communities like ShearWater and RiverTown have opted to not include golf courses, Matt Devereaux, Division President for Lennar in North Florida, believes his company’s concept, which includes a Bobby Weed-designed golf course and is currently called Greenbriar Downs, will appeal to active adults.
As one new development after another in St. Johns County, Fla. moves forward without adding golf as one of its amenities, one project is choosing a different path, The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record reported. A Lennar development with more than 500 age-restricted homes will include a new golf course designed by designer Bobby Weed.
The development that is currently called Greenbriar Downs—although the named could be changed by the time building starts—is on about 725 acres, The Record reported. And while it hasn’t been unusual for new residential projects to pop up in one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, of late it’s been unusual for them to include golf courses, The Record noted.
A generation ago, new communities in the northern half of St. Johns County, which is along the north Florida coast between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, came with golf courses, The Record reported. Places like World Golf Village, Palencia, St. Johns Golf and Country Club, and others all had golf as community anchors. Yet now some of the biggest and most popular new communities to come onstream have opted not to include golf, with Nocatee, ShearWater and RiverTown being a few examples.
“There are plenty of golf courses,” Matt Devereaux, Division President for Lennar in North Florida, acknowledged to The Record. “What we’re going to do is bring a different concept of living with this golf course and this community.”
Using the “bundled golf” ownership style and having a well-known course designer will make a difference to buyers, Devereaux told The Record. Membership to the golf club will come with ownership of the home and will then be passed along whenever that home is sold. Members will have to pay regular fees, but a large upfront initiation fee won’t be required.
That model has worked for Lennar in plenty of other places in Florida, Devereaux told The Record. “This is just one location we hadn’t done it,” he said. “And the nice thing is nobody else is doing it. So I think that gives a great advantage to the community.
“The reception we’ve seen in many other markets, predominantly in South Florida on the east and west coasts, is that bundled golf and the package of amenities that we bring, along with the home styles, should knock it out of the park,” he added.
Homes in Greenbriar Downs will start in the high $200,000s or low $300,000s, The Record reported. Sales will begin in the first quarter of 2020, with the golf course expected to open the following year.
The golf course will have the advantage of being set up in a way that will allow participants to come home from work and play just three or six holes or some other total that suits their time and interest, Devereaux told The Record. And having someone with Weed’s background and creativity will help the success of the project, he added.
Weed has designed more than 50 projects, including many of the Tournament Players Club venues. Based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., he designed the Slammer and Squire in World Golf Village and renovated the two courses at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.
“We met with Bobby and immediately kicked it off,” Devereaux said. “We could see that he had a vision like we did, to try to maximize how the course sets up.
“He’s going to make this a crown jewel,” he added. “For sales and for customers, it’s obviously something that’s fantastic for marketing. It’s a major win for Lennar to have somebody like Bobby partner with us to do this project.”
There is some risk, though, The Record noted, because the current trend in St. Johns County is contraction rather than construction when it comes to golf. While just one course has closed in the last two decades—the historic Ponce de Leon Golf Course—others are shrinking.
The county-owned St. Johns Golf Club is in the process of evaluating a plan to redevelop the land that used to support nine of the 27 holes there, The Record reported. And just last year, the St. Johns County Commission gave permission to the owners of the course at Oak Bridge Club in Ponte Vedra Beach to develop the land used for six of the 18 holes and build 280 age-restricted homes.