Working with nature to build a 43-acre lake from scratch

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The grand, nautically-themed Lake House in Beacon Lake is—as planned—the heart of the community.

The Lake House’s wide covered porches look out over a Junior Olympic swimming pool, Splash Park and fun pool. There’s a crew house, with a Cape-Cod-in-Florida feel, housing kayaks. A boardwalk leads from a lake-front gazebo—crafted in a carnival-like way by an artist who worked for Disney World—to a sand beach overlooking that large lake.

As the name of the community suggests, the large lake is the centerpiece of the community.

But in 2008, when Bruce Parker, managing director, BBX Capital Real Estate, purchased the 630 acres of land on County Road 210, a half mile from I-95, there was no lake.

One existed only in his imagination.

It would take a carefully planned massive digging and engineering project to create a 43-acre lake where no body of water existed. And as homes spring up in Beacon Lake, several miles west of Nocatee, the lake is almost complete.

Since the Lake House is such an integral part of the community’s lifestyle, that was constructed first in 2018, along with 13 acres of the planned half-mile long lake, which will equate to the size of 33 football fields.

“We partially created the lake to open the facility initially,” Parker said one recent day while touring the community with Operations Manager and Aquatic Director Danielle Simpson. Parker said that the dirt dug out from the first 13 acres of the lake was used during development of phase one of the community, to build up paths and roadways.

“In Florida, groundwater is very close to the surface,” he said. So once dug, “lakes are fed mainly by groundwater, rainwater and treated runoff.”

The Lake House opened to residents in Feb. 2019 and at the time the first 13 acres of the lake were full. When it came time to start digging the lake’s final 30 acres, the filled-lake’s groundwater had to be temporarily pumped down.

Now, the pumps pumping the groundwater down have been shut off and construction of the rest of the lake is well underway. Dirt from the final acres will be used to develop phases two and three of the community slated to have 1,280 single-family homes and 196 townhomes.

After the digging is complete, groundwater and rainwater will fill the entire lake up.

But while the centerpiece lake in Beacon Lake is the largest, there are other smaller ones as well.

“The lakes are part of the drainage system in most communities,” Parker said. “The lakes are all tied together in a system throughout. It’s all designed and engineered. And it’s all clean water.”

Most of the homes in Beacon Lake will either be on a lake or overlook nature preserve, as 358 acres of the 630-acre community will be nature preserve, with multipurpose paths for walking and biking and pocket parks throughout.

In phase one, Dream Finders Homes and Mattamy Homes are building coastal-inspired single-family homes ranging in size from 1,600 square feet to 3,500 square feet.

Dream Finders Homes is building on 43-foot wide and 63-foot wide homesites, and Mattamy Homes is building on 53-foot wide and 73-foot wide homesites.

Decorated model homes are open for tours.

Phase two, encompassing approximately 114 acres, is underway and will include single-family homes and townhomes.

A third builder also just joined Beacon Lake.

“Toll Brothers came to us and said they want to be in our community,” Parker said. “They will start models in March.”

As of now, all but 500 of the planned homesites are either developed or under development, he said.

With its proximity to St. Johns County A-rated schools, as well as playing fields, playgrounds, tennis courts and more, Beacon Lake was created to be a family community, said Parker, a developer with years of experience.

The lakes and roads curve, they are not linear, nor are homes back to back. That makes them costly to build, “but this is the most beautiful product I’ve ever developed,” Parker said.

“And by late spring or summer, the lake will be full.”

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