SOURCE: Palm Coast Observer
There’s a lot of factors that go into building a healthy community. You need secure jobs, available housing, and a high standard of living. While good weather and the beach give Palm Coast an enviable quality of life, Douglas Property Development, Inc. President Jeff Douglas knew there was more to do.
When DPD took over the Allete portfolio in 2017, he and his team reenvisioned the 2,050-acre Town Center as a livable downtown area and an innovative hub for med-tech jobs.
“To have a healthy community, Douglas said. “You need a healthy service sector growing with tactic jobs. There’s an absence of strategic, leading-edge companies here, and I think we can all recognize that.”
From Douglas’ perspective, attracting medical companies and institutions serves two purposes simultaneously: it fills the gap and meets the need for high-quality medical services for current residents, and it keeps young talent from leaving the county to find work.
The first step in attracting these key players was creating more housing. Last year, Central Landings, a 233-unit complex, was constructed, and The Palms at Town Center, an 88-unit complex, also broke ground and was 100% leased up within three weeks of its certificate of occupancy. Both complexes are waiting-list only.
Another 184 single-family homes are being constructed in Town Center, as well as 350 additional apartment condominiums.
“Diversity of housing and diversity of job opportunities is what we’re bringing,” said Walker Douglas of DPD. “Prior to this project, Palm Coast was lacking in multi-family and townhome options. We brought in more housing options that attract people with different lifestyles.”
With more housing options in the works, Jeff Douglas said DPD is turning its attention to partnering with medical education powerhouses like Jacksonville University and UNF MedNexus. Both institutions are opening campuses in Town Center that will focus on healthcare training and education.
“We are now on the radar of these institutions, companies, and the spinoffs that come from bringing these institutions here,” Jeff Douglas said. “We have great partners here already, like Coastal Cloud, Flagler Health, and ACI. Let’s give them the education, tools, product, and people so they can continue to expand.”
“Our goal is to get those med-tech jobs into Town Center and Palm Coast Park.”
In order to get to attract more of those necessary partners, Jeff Douglas said Palm Coast requires leadership that share that vision of a healthy community, like Mayor Milissa Holland, Representative Paul Renner, and Senator Travis Hudson.
“We have Matt Morton as a city manager, and Jerry Cameron at the county level who have both come in and reenvisioned that the citizen and the taxpayer is a customer, not a burden. And the companies that have come [to Palm Coast], done business and left over the years, are now coming back.”
With more housing and jobs coming to Town Center, entertainment is the obvious next step. DPD is planning 35,000 square feet of cafe, restaurant, office, retail space, and a separate art district and a regional design district. While it’s a lot of work now, Douglas believes that with the help of local leadership and the community’s support, this new vision for Town Center will soon be a reality.
“You’re going to see more key announcements in Town Center in the next 12 months,” Jeff Douglas said. “And I like to think in 24 months, we’ll be the envy of Florida communities.”