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The History of Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida
Palm Coast, Flagler County
Although not born as a city until 1999, Palm Coast was conceived in 1969 when ITT Corporation bought several thousand acres of land in Flagler County to develop a massive retirement community. Over the next several years, a resort hotel, marina, tennis center, and 4 golf courses were built.
The community grew modestly to a population of 18,556 by 1990. As a Planned Unit Development (PUD), Palm Coast is ideally designed. Each section consists of roads beginning with a common letter of the alphabet. Thus, we often refer to an area based on that letter i.e. the “P” section or the “R” section. The “F” section is build around a network of salt water canals with access to the Intracoastal Waterway. Palm Coast Parkway, the commercial corridor, is an east/west divided highway which allows more development frontage than a non divided road. Residential roads in each section access feeder roads, which, in turn, access major traffic highways. This design limits the traffic in residential neighborhoods.
Disappointed by the stagnant growth of the area, ITT began to cut back on its commitment, selling 13,000 prime acres to Palm Coast Holdings in the early 1990’s. The resort and golf courses were sold to a developer who also developed Grand Haven, a gated golfing community, as a 5th golf course. For the remainder of the 90’s however growth was slow. Building lots in Palm Coast were readily available for $4-6,000. Salt water canal lots could be found for less than $75,000. Still, development begun in The Hammock area (on the barrier island east of the Intracoastal Waterway along route A1a) highlighted the upscale possibilities of the region.
The popularity of Palm Coast took a turn at the millennium. It was incorporated as a city at the end of 1999 with a population of 32,732. By April 2004, the population had burgeoned to 50,000 and to over 70,000 by 2006. Palm Coast was named by the Census Bureau as the fastest growing city in the country in percentage terms. In 2000, there was an average of 92 dwelling units per month for which building permits were issued. This has grown to over 400 units per month in 2004. By the beginning of 2005, over 2000 homes were under construction. Three major developers are active in the area. In various stages of planning are gated golfing communities, two yacht harbor/marina complexes, a fly-in community, a tennis complex, and an equestrian community. Several condominium projects are also underway. While the themes vary, the common thread is Lifestyle. Developers in The Hammock area now boast of four magnificent golf courses (with a fifth planned), a marina, a resort complex, and multi-million dollar ocean front homes and condos.
National retail companies expand to areas by following residential growth. When Palm Coast’s population reached 50,000, retailers became interested. Palm Coast is served by three major grocery chains, a Super Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Kohl’s, and Belk’s. An ambitious 20 year project named Town Center broke ground in 2005. Town Center consists of over 1500 acres of mix use development, including residential, business parks, service, retail, restaurants, and entertainment. A SuperTarget Store began construction in May ’07. Other projects under development are Cobblestone Village at Palm Coast, City Walk, and Palm Coast Park. Cobblestone Village is anchored by a Belks department store and Lowe’s, both of which opened in 2007.
Palm Coast is ideally situated along the Atlantic between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, each just one half an hour away. Orlando is less than 150 miles away while Jacksonville can be reached in one hour. Unlike parts of Florida farther south which are populated during the winter months by snow birds, the majority of Palm Coast residents are full time. This is because the weather is more temperate than further south. Average daily lows and highs for Palm Coast are: