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Date of Issue: October 26, 2006

St. Joe slows, Seven Shores going forward

st joe slow pic
Lucky seven
Site clearing and construction of the infrastructure at the St. Joe company's Seven Shores condominium development on Perico Island has been under way since January, although no start date of actual construction has yet been announced. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

Despite a slowdown in the Florida housing market that has prompted home building giant St. Joe Inc. of Jacksonville to announce plans to exit the homebuilding business in Florida, the company has no intention of halting its Seven Shores condominium project on Perico Island.

Instead, the company will look for a construction partner or partners to complete the planned 686-unit community that will eventually include 13 buildings.

St. Joe chief executive Peter Rummell issued a press release on St. Joe’s decision to get out of the Florida housing market and concentrate on "creating infrastructure" in its developments and partner with homebuilders, who will do the actual construction.

Rummell said that the company will lay off more than 100 staff in the next 18 months and offer the construction rights on a number of its current 42 projects to building partners, rather than complete the project themselves.

While Rummell did not name Seven Shores as a potential candidate for a partner, industry analysts say it’s likely that St. Joe will look for local home builders as partners in the project first before scanning the national market. St. Joe will complete the infrastructure on Seven Shores, which includes a man-made lake, clubhouse, tennis courts and canoe ramp.

Efforts by The Islander to reach St. Joe spokesperson Jerry Ray in Jacksonville for comment on the future of Seven Shores were unsuccessful.

Site clearing and preparation at Seven Shores has been ongoing since January and St. Joe has established a sales office at the east end of the Anna Maria Island Bridge for prospective buyers, although actual construction of any of the buildings has not yet started.

Units are priced as low as $800,000 and, unofficially, seven reservations have been taken for units. No completion date for the first phase of buildings has been announced.

St. Joe is the largest private landowner in Florida and, since 1997, has been active in the home construction market, particularly in Florida’s panhandle.