Dramatic Rooftop Transformation Rave Review

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Conceptual Drawing Submitted to the HDC on 3/19/18 Source: www.fbfl.us and HDC Agenda or www.silling.com for more of their work.

We’ve all been watching the building adjacent to the First Baptist Church on 5th Street for years.  Deteriorating slowly, the square footage was a challenge to repurpose, but thanks to a little vision, money and a great plan by Silling Architects, the conceptual plan above may become a reality.  The Harbor View development on South 2nd Street is another development with rooftop deck or features and great potential views.

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As a broker and local, I can see the way Downtown Historic Fernandina is going through a kind of reset of value and expectations.  With views like this, a potential improved waterfront and very intelligent changes to C-3 zoning, we’ll see more mixed use in the downtown area and, in my opinion, an extended period of viability to parking as uses create a need at very different times.

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Amazing Views and Sunsets

9 Landscaping Tips for Florida

Reading a post on landscaping earlier, the only informative thing was the title, “10 Rules….” or something like that.   Working with a great many new homes and existing homes to resell, I have my own set of rules to follow.  

1) We live in Florida, so water and using native plants should be a consideration.  Companies like “Reflections of Nature”, specialize in native landscaping or xeriscape designs.   Taking the time to plan a yard around water and maintenance  makes a huge difference.

2) Use some specimen size plants.  While everything grows, do you want to wait 10 years or have the basic appearance of a landscape in place immediately?  I learned to put money into 1-3 full-size focal points at the beginning.  You never know when you might need a great yard/appearance and you’ll enjoy the landscape while living in your home.  IMG 0890

3) Never plant too close to the structure.  Plants retain water, but can also collect leaves and debris in a way conducive to wood damage or termite entry.  Considering this before planting is important.IMG 0889

4) Scale should be correct.  The size of plants changes over time and plantings can suddenly overwhelm an entry or walkway.  Consider whether your newly purchased home is still landscaped with plants the right size and shape for the space.   IMG 0888

5) How do you plan to create a border or edge bedding?  The best tip I pass on to clients came from my wife.  Use the shape of the edge of a bed to create the edge, not visible plastic edging or any other visible border.  Using a “V” shape at the edge of a bed, to create a bed with depth along the edge and a flat area in planted spots, does exactly what you see with wood, concrete, stone or plastic edging.   I also like pine straw for mulch.  After a few weeks, the pine straw settles in and remains in place.   IMG 0893

6) The biggest mistake I see is in new construction. Some plants will grow to double, triple or quadruple the size in a short time.  Viburnum grows quickly and is cheap to buy, but is rapidly far too large for most spaces.  I recently sold a home with the entire front of the home lined in viburnum, less than 12 inches from the structure.  In less than a year, the shrubs will overgrow the are and the new owner will be digging, cutting or replacing the entire front bed.   We have a 15 foot wall of viburnum at our home….but not 12 inches away from the foundation. Think about growth rates and placement.  What looks good now might be bigger soon.  Plan for low maintenance and common sense plantings.   IMG 0896

7) Think about micro-climates. Most plants thrive in a specific environment.  Using a larger plant, you can create shaded areas where a greater variety of plants might thrive.  

8) Hardscape should be simple.  I hate seeing a yard with so much hardscape it looks like a retail nursery display.  Simple additions like a small entry fountain, bench, rock or other focal point should not be intrusive.  Think about whether your feature enhances the home or becomes the only thing you notice.   

9) If at the beach, don’t try to change the natural landscape.  Dunes look great and native palms or grasses look better than anything you might change.  Besides, most of the areas you might try to replant are considered protected.    IMG 0856

Technology, Island Time and Change

We’re definitely spoiled.  The island makes a wait in line or long drive seem like an unacceptable inconvenience, but this really didn’t hit home until we visited Kennedy Space Center earlier in the week.   Lines were for, literally, a line to get in a line!  Island time, for me, means having extra hours in every day.  Why?  We drive less, have few waits, can play near or during work and a vacation is whenever and wherever you have an extra 10 minutes to enjoy the place you live/work.  IMG 0835

I’m at home working from a laptop this afternoon, texting to two agents, my wife and a client.   Sitting on my front porch with a headset, noise cancellation makes it easy to have a conversation from almost any location, but the sync between my computer, phone and tablet make my mobile office a seamless thing of beauty.  A few years ago, I transitioned to fully digital files.  If I have paper, I scan it into a cloud drive, but even signatures are more accurate and easier to manage.   Every so often, it occurs to me just how much changed in the years after my first sale.  Contracts were shorter, but were often handwritten.   Signatures were never electronic and files are still boxed at my office from my early time in the industry. IMG 0698

I’m posting an update for one client with pictures of a new build and the technology really does change the service.   Every few days, I take a new picture of the construction progress.  If she likes, I’ll even schedule time to “FACETIME” a walk of the property to save hours in travel.   IMG 0619

Time is probably the best part of a place like Amelia Island or Fernandina.  I spend so little time traveling and so little time waiting in line, I can’t even begin to add the value of the extra time I’ve added to my life.  The odd part of living here is in adjusting your routine to move from play to work in short bursts.  I chose to add mobile technology to every part of my business.  Even a recent change to all Apple equipment came down to time and resenting the time I wasted in transition between operating systems.   The other night, we walked out of a restaurant with a 30 minute wait.  How many towns have 10 or 20 other restaurants within walking distance and with nearly equal quality on any given night?   We’re lucky and most of us don’t notice…the occasional extra hours in each day.   IMG 0301

They say you can’t buy time, but you can buy the location, or choose a lifestyle to save time.

Flood Zones and Twitter Reminder from Nassau County Emergency Services

Do you need flood insurance?  Worth remembering, we’ve flooded twice in the 1% 100 year flood areas.  See below for more information,  but think before removing flood insurance from your budget.   

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According to Nassau County Emergency Management, “Even if you live in an area with only a 1% chance annually of flooding, you should have #NFIP Flood Insurance! In the past 18 months, we’ve seen severe flooding TWICE in those “just 1% chance per year” areas.” https://t.co/8gPCptBeK9

— NassauEM (@NassauEM) February 28, 2018

 

Flood Zones | FEMA.gov:

Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA are defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded).

Age of Your Live Oak Tree

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Live oaks on Amelia Island are some of the most resilient local inhabitants.  Unlike the water oak, they tend to live longer and weather storms.   Considering the age of a tree, I’d like to estimate the age of a tree with a 72” diameter, using the formula below.   Typically, the diameter is calculated by measuring the circumference at 4 to 5 feet above the ground and using that number to calculate a diameter.   

 

How to Age a Live Oak Tree | Hunker:

The first 10 inches in diameter indicate an age of 76 years. Each inch after that adds six-and-a-half years up to age 154. After that, each inch adds six years.

72 Total Inches

First 10 inches  – 76 years

Then, the next 12 inches… takes us to 154 years.   After that…I’m guessing 22 inches in diameter, we still need to account for the last 50 inches at 6 years per inch.    (50×6)+154= 454 years.  That can’t be right!   Let’s compare the “Treaty Oak” age estimate in Jacksonville.  Apparently, the Treaty Oak’s estimated age is 250 years, with around 95 inches in diameter and a 25’ circumference.   If I use this number, a 72 inch oak in Fernandina might be closer to 190 years in age.  There is variation in growth rate, depending on location, water, surrounding vegetation, but seeing a tree like this as 150 to 200 years in age is reasonable.   These trees could have been saplings when Louis-Michel Aury was on the island in 1817.   

IMG 0881Regardless, big oaks are old and should be protected.  I’d love to think the big oaks I grew up with might be around for another 200 years, but the island is changing.   Looking for creative ways to develop property can preserve trees and homeowners are beginning to see the value of this preservation.    Depending on the configuration of a site, sometimes losing lots can be offset by the premium for larger lots and reduced cost for infrastructure.  

Bakeries, Breweries, Restaurants…Music, Apartments and Collision Density

I can’t stop thinking of collision density and changes to more urban areas, like Fernandina’s Historic District.  When you see a small downtown area add a variety of uses or change zoning to encourage mixed use, in my opinion, there is a potential for adding value.  Density aside, adding density to a property with existing structures can be a way to encourage redevelopment.  In an older are, protected by historic guidelines, any remodel can be an unknown and expensive undertaking.  Allowing more possibilities can make preservation and utilization of a space more feasible.   Think about a second floor with zoning allowing office, retail or restaurant uses.   The space, if used as an office, might allow 20 desks. Each desk could represent an employee and each employee might need a parking space.  That same area, if used for apartment spaces, might only convert to 2 or 3 apartments.  Each apartment might represent 1 to 2 cars.  Lets be generous and call it a total of 6 vehicles.  The times parking might be in demand, assuming these apartments are long term rentals or homes, would probably be after the 9 to 5 typical business day. So, two things happen.  We create differe nt uses, with the potential to add value to existing business and add value to residential uses, often in high demand near a downtown commercial district.  We also find added parking by changing the times a developed use might require space.  Finally, we encourage preservation by offering a path toward choice.  Limiting choices in the use of a historic property can actually make it more difficult to find buyers willing to invest in the preservation.  Historic guidelines set limits, but too strictly limiting the kinds of use can sometimes turn away an owner willing to invest.   Given, I’m thinking of buyers with an interest in living space or short term rental, but I’ve also watched buyer interest in older buildings shift to conversion of upstairs commercial space into residential space.

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122 South 8th Street is in the middle of a changing part of 8th Street.   Looking at surrounding property, consider the dramatic changes at the old Fred’s location when Buy-Go opened.  Now, less than a block away, we’re probably going to see a true mixed use of the site with a healthy mix of residential and commercial uses.  David’s recently reopened as the 801 Kitchen and T-Rays Burger Station has been poplar for as long as I can remember.  Changing the density allowed in C-3 zoning and the overlay district leading toward downtown, MU8, I believe, should add to the changes happening in this previously overlooked, but transitioning area.

The old Pecan Roll is also zoned C-3 and has the potential for office, retail, food sales and even residential use as a part of the site.  In walking distance to Center Street, the demand for walkable space is high.  Offices, residential, retail or food is all possible and the “just reduced” price of $399,000,  is attracting interest.    Thinking of the lot size, 100’x100’, similar lots only blocks away are often 2-3 times this number.

See the current MLS information here.