New apartment complex coming to Nocatee


A new apartment complex will open on Nocatee’s Valley Ridge Boulevard in early 2019, offering approximately 250 units with full access to the master-planned community’s amenities.

To be located at the southeast corner of Cross Town Drive and Valley Ridge Boulevard, the Garden Apartments will consist of seven, three-story buildings surrounding a central amenity area that will include its own pool, fitness complex, clubhouse and garages.

“It will be a relatively small community, with approximately 250 apartment units, in a quality setting consistent with what you’d find in Ponte Vedra and Ponte Vedra Beach,” said Rick Ray, president and CEO of the PARC Group, Nocatee’s master developer.

Ray confirmed that all residents of the apartment complex will have access to Nocatee’s amenities, including the Splash Water Park. As a result, he said, residents will be subject to the same Community Development District (CDD) assessments as homeowners in Nocatee.

Ray said the Garden Apartments will be developed on the western side of Nocatee Town Center, which he insisted is not a residential area. A PARC Group map, however, shows the location to be less than a mile from the entrance to Nocatee’s Austin Park and Greenleaf neighborhoods of single-family homes. In comparison, the Nocatee Publix – considered to be the heart of the existing town center – is some two miles away.

Ray stressed that apartment communities have always been part of the vision for Nocatee. In Spring 2016, however, The PARC Group asked the county to approve a decrease in the percentage of multi-family housing units in Nocatee as part of a major modification to the community’s comprehensive plan and Planned Unite Development (PUD). At an April 2016 meeting of the county Planning and Zoning Agency, PARC Group Chief Operating Officer Greg Barbour said that the construction of 9B, new I-95 interchanges and the approval of the Twin Creeks and Durbin Creek National Developments had changed the overall landscape, and that multi-family units were now more likely to be built as part of those two developments.

“Common sense tells us that’s where the big-box retailers and multi-family housing are going to go,” Barbour said in requesting the decrease, which was approved along with several other changes.

Ray said the Garden Apartments community is not a deviation from that plan, explaining that the master developer had merely reduced the requirement for multifamily homes and not eliminated it altogether. He added that The PARC Group is not concerned about overcrowding in that area, saying the ultimate buildout of Nocatee will result in less homes and development than what was originally planned.

Resident reaction

Announcement of the new apartment complex prompted a flurry of comments and discussion among Nocatee residents on social media sites such as Facebook and Nextdoor Nocatee, with homeowners making such comments as “Ugh…gonna get crowded” and “Did we all make a mistake buying property here?”

Some residents, however, said the apartments were to be expected. Greenleaf Village resident Adam Drake said the Garden Apartments announcement didn’t come as a surprise to him. He’s been anticipating such development since he moved to Nocatee three years ago.

“It’s in line with what I expected and what’s been communicated to me by Nocatee in terms of what the master plan was going to include,” he said. “I’ve known there were going to be apartments somewhere in the community, and I knew about what the scale of those would be. So it seems to fit in with what they’ve told me.”

Drake’s biggest concern is the capacity of the area schools, noting uncertainty concerning where kids in the apartment community will be zoned.

Coastal Oaks resident Denver Cook said he’s also concerned about school capacity, but thinks a larger discussion needs to take place with St. Johns County School District concerning the future growth of Nocatee.

“It’s not about whether or not they will go to Valley Ridge or the new school that’s being built,” he said. “Long term, as a community, where are we going and where are going to be at the end? I think we as a community need to have that conversation and say this is where we want to be in the end and how do we get there.”

Ray said information pertaining to school zoning for Garden Apartments is currently unknown and will be determined by St. Johns County.

On the topic of growth, Ray added that the apartment community will provide a temporary housing option for families that are building in Nocatee. He said it will also meet the needs of those who desire to live in Nocatee but choose not to own property.

The price of the apartments is to be determined, with Ray noting it will be consistent with apartments in Ponte Vedra.