Ponte Vedra: A popular place to do business


Whether you live in Ponte Vedra Beach or in Nocatee, you’ve likely noticed new restaurants like Trasca & Co. Eatery, Flavor Palette and Pieology providing consumers more choices to satisfy their culinary cravings. The growing menu of eateries is a trend indicative of growth throughout Ponte Vedra and Northeast St. Johns County. What’s more, these new business options are not limited to just the retail and hospitality industries.

International Management Company (IMC) recently broke ground on a new 60,000 square-foot speculative office building in Nocatee. Chase or VyStar members can now visit their banks without leaving the beach. Companies like Vacation Pros are expanding their national headquarters in Ponte Vedra, while commercial spaces like Sawgrass Village are revitalizing their properties, bringing new life to area institutions like Aqua Grill.

It’s not hard to understand why new businesses are popping up in Ponte Vedra. According to 2014 census data, the average medium income for households in the growing community is nearly $82,000 annually – more than 50 percent higher than the national average. With a highly desirable geographic location and a famously successful school district, St. Johns County is enjoying rapid growth, which is largely concentrated in the northern area including Nocatee and Ponte Vedra. In fact, 2015 U.S. Census data estimated 19.3 percent growth for St. Johns County compared to 7.8 percent statewide and 4.1 percent nationally over 2010.

Many of the newest business proprietors, however, don’t cite numbers when asked what prompted them to open their businesses in Ponte Vedra.

“No other location was considered – Ponte Vedra is my hometown, it is where I have raised my children,” said Jay Griffin, who in July will celebrate one year in business at A1A Pharmacy. “I wanted A1A Pharmacy to be modeled after the hometown pharmacy I knew as a child. It was a locally owned business that knew your name and took care of your family.”

PGA Tour professional and entrepreneur Graeme McDowell also cited a personal connection as to why he chose to open his restaurant, Nona Blue – opening this summer – in Ponte Vedra.

“My family and I love spending time in Ponte Vedra when I compete at THE PLAYERS,” McDowell said. “I’m thrilled to expand Nona Blue to such a beautiful city with so much golf heritage. We considered many options for our second location, but I can’t think of a better place to bring our restaurant.”

Kurt and Carla Miles grew up on the eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland, but referred to the “hometown feel” they experienced after moving here that helped them decide to open the Mainstream Boutique at 880 A1A N.

“Business is going well, meeting new people each day,” Carla Miles said, “and I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to connect with such fabulous people in the community.”

Clearly, however, entrepreneurs are not deciding to open their businesses in northeast St. Johns based purely on sentiment.

“We feel that Nocatee is the most attractive submarket in North Florida for expanding national business,” Lou Nutter, senior vice president at CBRE, said in a news release referring to the IMC office building currently under construction there.

IMC Vice President Raja Saoud agreed. In an article published in the St. Augustine Record, Saoud noted, “Whenever you have one of the largest, quickest growing communities in the United States, you’re in the right place.”

While Saoud hopes office space will be in high demand, Gary Hallett, owner of Gateway Business Advisors, believes entrepreneurs are actively seeking opportunities in the area.

“Currently, there is a high demand for quality businesses priced between $500,000 and $5,000,000,” Hallett said. “Business owners who are taking the time to properly prepare for their exit are being rewarded at the closing table.”

Sectors in high demand, he added, are manufacturing, consumer/retail goods and business services.

To become a member or learn more about the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, contact the Ponte Vedra Beach Division at (904) 285-2004 or visit www.sjcchamber.com.