Interest expressed in both projects from several hotel operators plus the strength and vitality of the Flagler market encouraged Jacoby to press forward with plans for both locations.
By Toby Tobin
PALM COAST, FL – October 26, 2017 – Atlanta-based Jacoby Development Inc. (JDI) yesterday announced plans to redevelop Marineland and Palm Coast Resort in Flagler County, revitalizing these long-underutilized waterfront sites in northeast Florida. Work is expected to commence at both sites in early 2018. The total estimated investment value of the two projects exceeds $150M.
For these projects, JDI and its private investment partners will be teaming with VCC Construction, one of the largest commercial construction companies in the U.S. Over the past 25 years, JDI and VCC have collaborated on more than 20 commercial developments, most notably Atlantic Station. VCC shares JDI’s commitment to environmentally responsible development – the company has built many green-oriented projects, including a LEED Gold office building at Atlantic Station (for JDI), Downtown Summerlin in Las Vegas, and Northfield at Stapleton in Denver, the first Green-Certified Main Street center in the U.S.
Palm Coast Resort
The Palm Coast Resort site is located at the intersection of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and Country Club Waterway (AKA South Cut), the gateway entrance to the majority of Palm Coast’s miles of saltwater canals (highlighted in blue legend in the accompanying map). The ten-acre site was once the home of a Sheraton Hotel. It and the nearby Palm Harbor Golf Course were acquired by Centex Destination Properties during the “wild west” days of the real estate bubble.
Centex had aggregated and begun to develop and market several ICW properties; Marineland, Tidelands, Palm Coast Resort, Palm Harbor Golf Club, Canopy Walk, and Bulow Shores. Centex also developed the Cinnamon Beach and Villas at Hammock Beach condominiums. Their concept was to market the properties as components of a destination resort connected by a water taxi service.
Centex closed the Palm Harbor golf course, razed the clubhouse, and engaged Jack Nicklaus to redesign a tournament-level course. The Sheraton was razed in 2006 to make way for a planned complex that would include three condominium towers, a hotel, and a multi-level parking garage. Land within the golf course boundaries, including what is now the practice area, was entitled for future condominium development by Centex. The redesigned golf course and marinas at both Palm Coast Resort and Marineland would be shared resort amenities.
Only one condominium tower and the parking garage were completed at the former Sheraton site before the real estate bubble burst. Centex left town with its tail between its legs after ceding the closed golf course to the city. Following a $5M renovation, Palm Coast reopened and continues to operate the Palm Harbor Golf course as a municipal facility. The original Centex entitlements at the golf course and practice range remain; a nagging worry for golfers.
[Both Tideland and Canopy Walk have successfully morphed into owner-occupied residential communities. Bulow Shores, on John Anderson Hwy, was purchased from Centex in 2007 by Ginn Development. It was subsequently sold for $3M in 2015 to Seaside Landings, of Naples. Seaside completed the site development this year and began marketing the re-platted ICW property as Seaside Landings.]
Jacoby’s Palm Coast Resort Plans
At the resort site, Jacoby proposes:
- 100 room/key marina hotel and conference center
- Waterfront residential units (not as tall as the planned Centex condominiums)
- Waterfront dining and retail
- Renovation of the existing 86-slip marina
Naturally, Palm Coast is very interested in seeing a jewel property such as Palm Coast Resort succeed. However, the “condominium on the practice range” issue would be viewed as a stumbling block by golfers/voters. Hence, Jacoby’s vision includes only 96 golf course multi-family units, all to be located between the clubhouse and the waterway, leaving the existing practice area intact.
Golf Course and Marina Sites for Palm Coast Resort
Opened in 1938, Marineland was the world’s first oceanarium and was once the busiest visitor attraction in Florida, drawing more than 1 million visitors per year. Marineland’s unique natural characteristics led the State of Florida to designate Marineland as “Florida’s First Remarkable Coastal Place.” JDI redeveloped the oceanarium in the early 2000s, which operates today as the Georgia Aquarium’s Marineland Dolphin Adventure.
Built in 1938, Marineland gained notoriety as both a movie studio (Creature from the Black Lagoon and many other films and TV shows were shot here) and as Florida’s top tourist attraction during the 1950s and 1960s. Jacoby acquired the Marineland property in 1998, redeveloped the oceanarium, and subsequently sold it to the Georgia Aquarium, which operates it today as Marineland Dolphin Adventure.
Jacoby has long ties to Marineland beginning with childhood visits to the dolphin attraction. He purchased 40 acres, including the aquatic theme park, for $1.9M in 2001. Jacoby is credited with saving the theme park, rebuilding it after it suffered severe hurricane damage in 2004.
In December 2015, JDI purchased five parcels south of the Marineland Marina totaling nearly 35 acres. A 1.76-acre parcel is on the beach side of scenic A1A. The remaining parcels are west of A1A. The reported purchase price was $5.5M. Ironically, Jacoby had previously sold the same property to Centex for a reported $23M. Jacoby already owned a contiguous sixth 2-acre parcel.
Jacoby’s Marineland Plans
JDI plans to develop a resort village on the 37 acres featuring an oceanfront hotel and beach club, an eco-resort and spa along the Intracoastal Waterway, and a Vacation Village featuring single-family homes for rent or sale.
Marineland sits at the center of more than 40,000 acres of protected lands and estuarine waters located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River. Its unique natural characteristics led the State of Florida to designate Marineland as “Florida’s First Remarkable Coastal Place.”
A 2007 Wall Street Journal article describes Jim Jacoby:
Mr. Jacoby, by his own account, made more than $100 million over several decades clearing land to build supermarkets, strip malls, and nearly 40 Wal-Mart stores throughout the South.
He has since become a convert to "green" development and wants to make Marineland a showcase for his newfound eco-friendly business principles.
Jacoby Development, Inc. is an Atlanta-based real estate development firm with a 40-year track record of success and a reputation for environmentally-responsible redevelopment. JDI is best known for leading the development of Atlantic Station, which transformed a derelict steel mill site in Midtown Atlanta into an iconic live-work-play destination, and the redevelopment of a former Ford Assembly plant in Atlanta as the headquarters of Porsche Cars North America. JDI’s work has been honored with many awards from environmental groups, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Southface Energy Institute, and the Georgia Conservancy.