With 'bull's-eye on Jacksonville,' Standard Pacific invests more than $70M in area land

A Standard Pacific model home in Monterey at Palencia, where home prices range between $400,000 and $550,000.

A national homebuilder is going long on Northeast Florida, having invested more than $70 million in land in Duval and St. Johns counties in the past 18 months.

The leadership of Standard Pacific Homes Inc. (NYSE: SPF), based in Irvine, California, "saw an opportunity to commit to a lot of that land early on" in the housing market's recovery, said Jim Birkholz, the company's Jacksonville division president.

The $70 million-plus figure doesn't include development costs.

"We moved ahead of the market to capture the really A locations," Birkholz said. "That’s all we were interested in."

Birkholz wouldn't comment on all of the acquisitions, but here are the ones he did disclose:

Terra Costa, which is adjacent to Tamaya north of Beach Boulevard between Kernan and Hodges boulevards. Terra Costa was part of Tamaya when the Business Journal reported the deal last summer but has since become its own community with a gated entrance off Beach Boulevard. Birkholz declined to disclose a price range for homes in Terra Costa.

Monterey at Palencia, which will consist of 44 luxury homes between $400,000 and $550,000.

Monte Villa, which will bring 160 units of the company's villa product to Bartram Park. The villas consist of two attached residences, similar to townhouses, ranging from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet and starting in the $200,000s.

Multiple positions in Nocatee, including Greenleaf Village,Greenleaf Lakes and Villas at Nocatee, which will be an exclusively Standard Pacific community and feature a similar product to Monte Villa.

"We are excited about this market and believe that that’s the type of investment that’s merited in A locations," Birkholz said.

The land grab is part of a national strategy for the West Coast home builder. CEO Scott Stowell said in the company's first quarter earnings call that it spent $808 million on land and land development in 2013 and another $224 million in the first quarter of 2014.

The company saw a net income of $38.2 million in the first quarter, compared to $21.8 million in the first quarter of 2013.

"We are in the right markets with deep and well-located land position [and] hold an attractive basis and a product portfolio that appeals to our primary customer move-up buyer," Stowell said.

The builder sees opportunity to attract those move-up buyers in Northeast Florida, Birkholz said, which is why it started snapping up prime locations early on in the recovery.

"We started our bulldozers earlier than most and started developing larger projects earlier than most," he said.

Birkholz said the builder is incredibly bullish on Jacksonville, a stance driven by job and population growth, as well as news of corporate relocations like Adecco North America's headquarters move.

"We really have a bulls eye on Jacksonville," Birkholz said. "We think Jacksonville will probably catapult ahead of the national recovery."

Written by Ashley Gurbal Kritzer
Jacksonville Business Journal