ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The massive Durbin Park project announced Wednesday to be built over the next several years along Interstate 95 along State Road 210 will have major impacts on northern St. Johns County. Developers hope it will attract people from all over the region to shop and work, in addition to nearly 1,000 new homes that will go up.
County planners are still reviewing the plans to assess the potential impact on area roads and schools. It is the latest large development planned for one of the fastest growing areas of Florida.
Driving through the area, you see housing developments going up everywhere, adding more people and traffic to the area before ground is broken early next year on 1,600-acre Durbin Park project.
County Road 210 was recently widened to four lanes and construction has begun to expand Race Track Road to four lanes between Veterans Parkway and U.S. 1, with plans to expand that to six lanes in the future.
"We are only going to build four lanes at this time because that is what we feel is required for the upcoming traffic volumes, but we have the ability to expand that," said Greg Caldwell, St. Johns County's interim engineering manager.
State Road 9B, which part of plans for an interstate beltway outside I-295, will also be completed through St. Johns County around the same time DurbinPark opens.
Caldwell said planning ahead is the key to avoiding problems caused by growth.
"It allows us to react quicker," he said. "It allows us to have a lot of the infrastructure in place right now."
Other county officials see Durbin Park and the other developments as a huge boost to the local economy.
"I’ve already fielded several calls from consultants and company representatives for large-scale office projects that are interested in being located here because of the mix of the retail and the commercial and the office projects that will culminate together," said Melissa Glasgow, director of economic development for St. Johns County.
Glasgow said that without the road improvements, Durbin Park would not have been possible. She also said that despite all the growth in the area, people in the county shouldn’t worry about their taxes increasing if new schools are needed.
"Not only will it generate new ... property tax revenue, it will also generate significant sales-tax revenues which will benefit the schools without the impact that typically would impact schools more negatively," Glasgow said.