Sawmill Creek: Lowe Destination Development’s Florida Play

Palm Coast, Fla. – With green-friendly attitudes growing by the day, developers and builders are increasingly adopting sustainable development standards. One new golf course community that strongly believes in this principle is Sawmill Creek.

What else would one expect from a place that goes by the slogan, “Planned By Nature.”

Nature-friendly Sawmill Creek, a 1,000-acre Jim Furyk-designed golf course development in Palm Coast, Fla., is the brainchild of Lowe Destination Development, one of the nation’s premier developers of high-end resorts and master-planned golf communities. Perhaps best known for developing Sunriver Resort in Oregon, Stone Eagle in Palm Desert, Calif., and the exclusive Reserve in Indian Wells, Calif., Lowe Destination Development is certainly no stranger to sustainable concepts, considering the developer is deep into the 6,000-acre 54-hole Suncadia project, Washington’s largest 3-Star Built Green resort development.

Sawmill Creek is Lowe’s latest endeavor along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Located in the heart of Palm Coast Park – a 4,700 acre mixed-used development between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach — Sawmill Creek has proposed plans for 1,350 total residences (a mix of single-family and multi-family units), the first Furyk-designed course, a community park and school, 15,000-square-foot Residence Clubhouse, additional 8,000-square-foot golf clubhouse and a small central village with retail and commercial space.

Homes are being priced from the $200,000s with estate lots starting in the low $100,000s, according to director of sales and marketing Chris Shee (reservations are now being taken). The community’s phase one infrastructure is under construction, Shee adds, with the golf course and other amenities scheduled for a groundbreaking sometime in 2009.

Sawmill Creek was selected as the community’s name as a reflection of the land’s interesting history. In the late 18th-century, the property was identified as an ideal place for a mill because of the steep natural banks of Hulett Branch. For the next quarter of a century, Hewitt’s Sawmill, powered by the Hulett Branch and nearby Pellicer creeks, was the primary provider of wood for construction in and around nearby St. Augustine.

“Sawmill Creek’s rich history provides the opportunity to tell a genuine story more than any other community we have developed,” said Bob DeVore, president of Lowe Destination Development, Southeast. “Combined with the beautiful surrounding landscape and environment, and an exceptional golf course, Sawmill Creek will be a unique community in Northeast Florida and an ideal place to live.”

As a nod to its special history, Sawmill Creek’s architecture will feature touches of Classical Florida Tradition, as well as Craftsman and Georgian-influenced homes. And once again, after helping fuel the growth of Hewitt’s Sawmill and St. Augustine, Hulett Branch is back in the spotlight as it snakes through Sawmill Creek.

“(Hulett Branch creek) is really the central focus of how we laid out the community,” Shee says. “It’s really gorgeous with a lot of hardwood canopies.”

The creek, as well a manmade lake and linear park system that encompasses miles of trails that meander through the community, are what lend Sawmill Creek to such “greenness,” according to Shee. For instance, Hulett Branch eventually feeds into Pellicer Creek, considered one of Florida’s most pristine estuarine systems, which, in turn, acts as the main tributary to the Matanzas River touted for its wildlife, fishing and boating.

As an added bonus to Sawmill Creek residents, adjacent to Sawmill Creek and its neighboring waterways is where the 1,500-acre nature preserve called Princess Place is situated. Once owned by the wife of a Russian prince, Princess Place is now public open space where one can take in the serene vistas via canoe or kayak.

 Throw in a golf course that will be developed and designed as part of the Audubon International Signature program, incorporating Natural Resource Management Plans and other best management practices, and Sawmill Creek’s “Planned By Nature,” motto is full of life.

Other natural touches planned for Sawmill Creek will be several bridges. For example, rather than build a typical concrete box culvert bridge that traverses the creek and wetlands in one spot, Lowe Destination Development is building a natural wood bridge. Another notable bridge comes into play soon after driving into Sawmill Creek’s main entrance as one heads downhill toward Hulett Branch. After crossing over this expansive wooden bridge, the main road leads residents and guests back up the hill toward the Residence Clubhouse that will be the community’s hub of activity once it’s completed.

This signature front entrance drive and bridge, designed to naturally flow with Sawmill Creek’s distinctive 20-25 feet of elevation change, is yet another first-class commitment by Lowe Destination Development in this part of Florida. Prior to embarking on Sawmill Creek, Lowe Destination designed and built the oceanfront Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Hammock Resort and Grand Haven, another master-planned community in Palm Coast that features more Nicklaus golf.

With established lineage such as this, Shee believes Lowe’s latest project has a leg up on other lesser-known developers. Perhaps that is one reason Shee is experiencing “great interest” in the “highly amenitized yet extremely affordable” Sawmill Creek plan.

“We have 100 percent faith this will be successful,” Shee says, despite the sluggish real estate market nationwide. “The way we’ve amenitized the community and the niche we have, this is a great value.

“Plus, I think people respect the fact we’re really concentrating on the market that is not only good for the developer but also the buyer. This land truly is beautiful.”

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