Main Streets are touted across America as having a story to tell, but what if a Main Street was a blank canvas, ready to bring a community’s vision to life?
In the master planned community of Palm Coast, that’s exactly what’s happening, and in doing so, they’re building the Main Street of the future and shedding their reputation as a retirement community.
Offering up a mix of hometown charm with the amenities of tomorrow, Palm Coast is redefining what it means to have a vibrant downtown without losing the signature characteristics that make Main Streets the most sought after places to live, work and play.
In the town’s square, a serene lake is surrounded by an expansive walking path within Central Park, as multi-use trails weave their way through the Town Center district. A centerpiece of the community and the location of countless festivals, community events and special moments for residents and visitors, Central Park has been the site of everything from regionally acclaimed seafood and strawberry festivals to the annual Rotary Club’s Fantasy Lights holiday event each December. The picturesque lake’s fountain is often the backdrop for senior portraits, campaign photos and professional head shots.
But beyond that, Town Center’s appeal has yet to be fully realized.
Over the years, as the commercial real estate market has seen an ebb and flow, so has development in the Town Center Community Development District.
Anchored by Palm Coast’s City Hall and the elegant City Centre complex, it’s a glimpse at the look and feel of what Town Center will be in the future as Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida make expansions in the region with the development of MedNexus.
Helping to usher in excellence in development and urban planning, Walker Douglas, Broker Associate for Douglas Property & Development says they’ve taken a unique approach to the design of what is quickly becoming the city’s hub by building on the earliest contributions by Town Center originators at Palm Coast Holdings, Bill Livingston, Charlie Faulkner and Clint Smith.
Consulting with the Flagler County Schools i3 Academy students on a Shark Tank style pitch, “Design Town Center” field trips to Main Streets in Central Florida in 2019 offered feedback from the next generation of what they’d like to see in their community’s future.
“What they took from those trips was they love Palm Coast, the trails, the beach but we don’t have that one place that makes you feel like where am I going to go to see what’s going on, to see people, and enjoy myself. We don’t have that downtown,” said Douglas.
All along, leaders have kept an underlying mission in mind – to create opportunity in the City of Palm Coast and Flagler County that would allow future generations to stay local with housing, workforce opportunities and a quality of life second to none, and the developers of Town Center are taking all of it into account.
“The team that I liked the most were these girls who designed a coffee shop that hinged on the area’s history. And so those girls came up with “Henry’s Café” and it was a Henry Flagler-themed coffee shop. There were other cool proposals but to me that was it. They honed in on exactly what needed to happen which was ‘what is our sense of identity, a little taste of history and what gets people together – a cup of coffee’,” shared Douglas.
“The one that won was basically MedNexus. A program with a campus with certification processes that you go through as an adult that’s an alternative to college or if you’re in your late 20s or 30s and want to do a career pivot, you go here and get certified and then get teed up with a business.”
From trendy, upscale multi-family residential communities, to the ground breaking of the Paytas Homes development ‘The Gables’ in December 2020 and the upcoming Toll Brothers’ single family luxury homes, Town Center is a model for the future, allowing generations of families to continue living in close proximity by offering options to meet every budget and lifestyle.
As new residents flock to the Sunshine State, bringing their businesses with them and putting down roots in their new communities, Douglas sees this as a prime time for business owners serving local, state, national and international clients to make an investment by becoming brick-and-mortar members of the community.
Sharing a conceptual design for a plaza in the district’s most desirable location at the intersection of Bulldog Drive and Central Avenue, just across from Central Park, he’s excited about the possibilities.
“Town Center is open for business.”