Dozens of members of the Skinner family gathered the morning of Jan. 15 for the groundbreaking on their last big piece of undeveloped property in Jacksonville at the Southeast Quadrant at Butler Boulevard and Interstate 295.
“For the family, I think it’s kind of a passing of an era for us,” said A.C. “Chip” Skinner III, who spoke for the family at the event marking the start of the master-planned residential community, “Seven Pines, A Legacy of Gathering.”
Homebuilders ICI Homes and David Weekley Homes bought 197 acres Dec. 23 and have the rights for about 560 of the Skinners’ total 1,063 acres of timberland at the quadrant.
The builders will buy the land in three phases with the first coming online in 2022. A total of 1,600 homes is planned.
“It signifies a legacy,” said Mori Hosseini, chairman and CEO of Daytona Beach-based ICI Homes.
“Not only is the legacy of a family that had been here for 125 years, it is a legacy of a company that has been here more than 35 years in the Jacksonville market,” he said of his company, founded in 1979.
ICI Homes has built in Florida markets that include Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Gainesville.
“This will be a legacy of our company, what we are going to create in this project. I think it’s going to set an incredible standard for this city and this county,” Hosseini said.
Hosseini is the managing partner of the Seven Pines partnership
Seven Pines stands for the seven Skinner brothers who looked after the family’s large land holdings, which have been sold or used for projects like the University of North Florida and St. Johns Town Center.
The event was held at the end of Kernan Boulevard, which will be extended into the property and serve as the community’s main entry.
Mayor Lenny Curry, City Council member Danny Becton and architects, engineers and planners involved with the project also attended.
Hosseini said he first began talking with the Skinners in 2005 about the Southeast Quadrant land.
“That was a meeting with the family (to) start working on that dialogue,” he said.
Hosseini said the Skinners undertook “an exhaustive process” of talking with developers from around the country.
“They decided to go with who they trust and have seen what we produced in other projects,” he said.
David Weekley, chairman of David Weekley Homes, said home prices will start in the $300,000s and range up to the $700,000 or $800,000s. Town houses and higher-density development is planned later.
Weekley, based in Houston, is a national company founded in 1976. It operates in more than 20 cities and has developed in Northeast Florida in Nocatee, eTown and other locations.
“Working with Mori and ICI as a partner is a real benefit because he knows Jacksonville and he knows the local market and has a history of producing incredible communities,” Weekley said.
“With his expertise here locally and with what I can bring from a national basis, we think that we can create the nicest community in Northeast Florida.”
There remains land for commercial development, including a parcel that Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua had under contract for a village center retail, restaurant and apartment project. That deal expired.
Skinner said the family hopes to create commercial employment around the residential community.
Weekley said there’s widespread interest. “This location with this kind of access, it’s highly sought after.”
Skinner, president of Skinner Bros. Realty, said the family will continue to manage the property not sold to the homebuilders for timber, “just like we’ve always done.”
The family also will continue holding Thanksgiving on the property, bringing together 175 to 200 members descending from those seven brothers.
“We’ll still hunt on it and do the things that we’ve always done but,” he said, “things will change.