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Groundbreaking Held For 132-Unit St. Johns County Affordable Housing Project

A rendering of San Marco Heights.
St. Johns County
A rendering of San Marco Heights.

A groundbreaking was held Monday for an affordable housing complex west of State Road 207 in St. Johns County.

San Marco Heights is one of two multifamily communities being financed with more than $30 million in disaster recovery funds awarded to St. Johns County.

Although the county didn’t immediately announce what the rental prices will be, it did say the apartment units will be for “low- to moderate-income” people.

San Marco Heights will have 132 units on 15 acres of land, which will include an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse and community service facility. The community space will have a commercial kitchen, co-working space, a tech lab, a library, a children’s game room and a fitness area.

A rendering of San Marco Heights.
Credit St. Johns County
A rendering of San Marco Heights.

“It is the beginning of what I hope — and I think I can speak for my fellow commissioners — several affordable housing projects that we desperately need for St. Johns County,” said County Commissioner and Vice Chair Henry Dean in an email to WJCT News.

The average rent in St. Johns County is $1,564, a 3% year-over-year increase, according to apartment listing service Rent Cafe.

By comparison, Rent Cafe estimated the average rent in Jacksonville to be $1,196, up 8% year over year.

Rents have been rising as the cost to buy a home has surged. In May, Jacksonville metro area home values shot up 13.7%, year over year, to a median price of $271,909, according to Zillow.

Part of San Marco Heights’ mission will be providing residents access to social services such as housing retention, medical and mental health, literacy education, employment assistance, life skills classes and after-school care.

“This is very life changing. It doesn’t put people on the streets. It gives them a place to live, especially people with families, with children,” said Mike O’Donnell, principal and owner of development firm Smith & Henzy Advisory Group, which is developing the project.

For more information about San Marco Heights, call the St. Johns County Housing and Community Development Division at 904-209-6890.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.