30 years of Vicar’s Landing

Longtime resident, CEO reflect on community’s transformation, impact and future

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Vicar’s Landing is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The upscale retirement community opened in 1988 and has since become one of the most reputable institutions of Ponte Vedra Beach. With hundreds of independent living residences, a skilled nursing facility and an assisted living facility, Vicar’s is now home to 364 seniors and has a waiting list that could more than refill the campus.

Cynthia Prince was one of the first people to move into the community 30 years ago. When she arrived from Washington D.C., Vicar’s was in its infancy.

“It wasn’t completely built,” she said. “So those of us who made the choice looked at the bare bones of whatever we were going to live in. People complain (now) about they can’t see this, or they can’t see that. My gosh. We couldn’t see anything.”

The campus, however, “grew the right way,” said Prince, pointing to the continued development and improvement of the community’s activities and volunteer opportunities. For instance, Prince led a volunteer program called Readers Aloud for 20 years that sent Vicar’s residents and others in the community to PVPV-Rawlings Elementary School to read to students.

Prince also highlighted the community’s culinary offerings and proximity to other attractions and amenities in Ponte Vedra, such as Sawgrass Village and the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, as benefits of living at Vicar’s. Add in a strong staff and the fact that several of her friends joined her at the retirement community, and Prince, now 95, is convinced moving to Vicar’s was the best decision she’s ever made in her life.

“Everything I want is here,” she said. “I can’t say anything negative because there isn’t anything.”

Because of testimonies like that, CEO Bruce Jones said Vicar’s Landing “has become a part of Ponte Vedra” over the past 30 years, noting that an expectation exists for people living in the area to one day end up at the retirement community.

“It’s neat to be part of the culture, the expectation of what Ponte Vedra is,” he said.

Jones added that the impact of Vicar’s on the greater Northeast Florida area has been significant due to the retirement community’s scholarship program. Since it was launched in 1994, Vicar’s has awarded more than $4 million to its employees in scholarships.

Jones, who became CEO in November 2012 after previously serving as director of health services, has seen tremendous growth within both the retirement community and in Northeast Florida over the 12 years he’s worked at Vicar’s.

When reflecting on the community’s anniversary, Jones said the most significant changes for Vicar’s took place just three or four years ago when the community completed exterior renovations across the entire campus to windows, doors, siding, sidewalks and landscaping. The project, Jones said, also provided Vicar’s with the opportunity to plan for the future, adding more activity and fitness space.

As for the future, Jones said he and his team are starting to see the generational change in their residents as baby boomers are beginning to retire. For example, he said the younger residents of Vicar’s are coming from a more business casual environment, so they want less formality in the dining room and more fitness, exercise and wellness programs offered in the retirement community. With this new generation in mind, Jones said Vicar’s is currently “on a big push” to upgrade technology infrastructure and is pursuing opportunities to expand due to continued demand.

One such opportunity is with Alta Mar Holdings LLC, the owner of the Oak Bridge Club at Sawgrass. Vicar’s has been in talks with Alta Mar to purchase a parcel of the Oak Bridge golf course to expand its campus there. A vote by the St. Johns County Commission in May to approve Alta Mar’s sale and development plans, however, has led to the filing of a lawsuit against Alta Mar and St. Johns County by businesses and residents that abut the land in question. As a result, Jones said Vicar’s has made it clear to Alta Mar that the retirement community will not enter into a purchase and sale agreement until that issue is resolved.  

“We’re not interested in being part of that lawsuit,” Jones said.

The Vicar's Landing CEO said the retirement community's expansion would include the addition of one-story duplex homes with garages, a "product" that is not currently part of their portfolio. The plans would also include additional independent living apartments over parking, additional assisted living, a dedicated memory care center and more community amenities. 

“We think that what we’re going to add is attractive and beneficial to the community,” Jones said. “Not everyone will see it that way. As they (Alta Mar) resolve their issues, we continue our communications. We have an agreement on what our price and terms would be right now. We’re going to continue to evaluate that as this moves forward.”

As that situation continues to unfold, Vicar’s will reflect on the past and celebrate its 30th anniversary on Oct. 17 with a private dinner and dancing event. For more information on the retirement community, visit https://vicarslanding.com/.

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