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February 14, 2020 With more residences popping up, Clay County planners are thinking infrastructure

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The Florida Department of Transportation is spending $410 million in Clay County. The county is bonding $130 million for road projects. The Clay County Utility Authority will spend more than $100 million expanding its system over the next five years. Why? Because over the next decade, the population of Clay County is expected to grow by 46 percent – an influx of 100,000 people — and the county wants to be ready. "We know that growth is coming," said J.J. Harris, president of the Clay County Economic Development Corp. The First Coast counties around Duval have seen strong growth in recent years, with the populations of St. Johns and Nassau in particular growing rapidly.

Those counties' highly ranked school systems and abundant land generated strong housing growth, but as the supply of vacant land is quickly filling up, developers increasingly see Clay County as an attractive and affordable alternative.

"We believe southeastern Clay County has opportunities and market fundamentals that are similar to Duval and St. Johns County 20 years ago," Roger O'Steen, founder and chairman of The Parc Group, said by email.

In August, The Parc Group purchased 3,241 acres in Clay County west of Green Cove Springs for $12.7 million. It intends to turn the vacant acres into a master-planned community in the likes of its others in the region, Nocatee and eTown. 

Nocatee, located near St. Johns County's border with Duval, has been one of the nation's 10 fastest selling master-planned communities every year since 2013, with nearly 8,000 homes sold. ETown, located three miles from the St. Johns Town Center, welcomed its first batch of residents in September.

Clay County Commissioner Diane Hutchings sees The Parc Group's plans as validation of where Clay expects to go.

"I think it says they have confidence in Clay County," she said.

Harris also expects the development to propel growth on its own, generating demand for more businesses in Clay County.

Article written by Will Robinson

Report, Jacksonville Business Journal