Commissioners move ahead with new development despite concerns

Developer says homes in mixed-use space designed to be more affordable

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A major development in the northern part of St. Johns County is getting some push-back from residents concerned about potential traffic congestion and other issues in the already booming part of town.

A developer wants to build a mixed-use area with a 250,000-square-foot commercial space and 400 multifamily units, including apartments and townhouses, at the corner of Race Track Road and St. Johns Parkway. 

Emails have poured into the St. Johns County Commission from people voicing their concerns with the project for many reasons, including traffic. 

But at a public hearing Tuesday where the commissioners discussed the development, no residents showed up.

The commission took the first step in the process Tuesday, essentially starting the review process for the development by transmitting the plan to a state review board.

Then it will be brought back to the county where they will eventually have a final vote.

If approved, the proposed development would be built near other residential neighborhoods and just down the road from the Pavilion at Durbin Park, a new shopping center being built with stores, restaurants and business offices. 

According to county documents, people living in the area have concerns about the plan, including creating more traffic congestion and the impact on nearby schools. A report found the development would add more than 200 students to the school district.

But the developer said 45 percent of the planned apartments and townhomes are single-bedroom, single-bathroom units, meaning the people who live in them likely wouldn’t have children to add to the district.

The developer said the homes would be designed for teachers, firefighters and workers in the service industry -- the type of people who have really been priced out of the typically high-end St. Johns County real estate market.

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