The Highlands of Spanish Fort is a large development project spanning over 11,000 acres between Spanish Fort and Bay Minette, AL. The land is separated in to 54 tracts and being development in conjunction with the city of Spanish Fort. The tracts are comprised of residential, commercial, multi family, a village center, school sites, institutional sites, parks and municipal services. The city council members approved an amended conceptual master plan and standards for design back in August at the most recent public hearing.
"We've definitely seen an increase in queries from regional to national developers and local home builders within the last six months," said Bill Schroeder, developing partner of Rock Creek Capital, which owns the land. The Rock Group purchased the land from International Paper in 2010.
The president of H Properties LLC, Dane Haygood is also the exclusive broker for the Highlands. Haygood said he expects the development to begin construction on portions in the next 12 - 24 months based on recent interest in the land and its potential. The project has been slowed by the sluggish economy, but like many other real estate projects, is slowly getting back on track. "It's a more modern design concept. It has more options," Haygood noted of the project and in particular, the new plan changes.
"I'm hoping things will pick up and get going out there," said Bruce Renkert, building and zoning official for the city. Renkert mentioned the revisions made in the recent council meeting will make the "master plan" more flexible. This is important for a project of this size with the number of expected participants ranging from home owners to commercial lessee's to developers and builders. The city mayor, Joe Bonner said, "If you start assigning tracts of land, it doesn't let you move things around if you have interested investors. Now, things can be moved around according to need."
Stone Brook is a subdivision that's part of the Highlands, has been under way for several years and was actually started by the previous owner. Renkert said Stone Brook has built 60 lots and has received approval to commence with 29 more at the recent council meeting. In total, Stone Brook has 263 lots and will be governed by the Highlands covenant. The zoning ordinance will be different for the Highlands and Stone Brook compared to the rest of Spanish Fort.
The Highlands is comprised primarily of residential area's, which make up approximately 81 percent of the entire project. The residential area will feature two distinct types of single-family homes.
One of the home types will resemble the homes and styles of Historic Malbis of Daphne, AL according to Haygood. These homes will have back alleys, reduced setbacks and no driveways which all create a close-knit feeling. The other types of homes slated to comprise the Highlands will have driveways and other differing features.
Haygood said that the Highlands sits in a very desirable location, being close to the Eastern Shore Centre and Interstate 10. The community is also near Spanish Fort schools. Haygood also mentioned Bay Minette Creek, which runs through the development, as being a nice amenity for boating and recreation. "It's different in today's environment so we are constantly talking to home builders and developers," Haygood said. He also added, "We are really looking for the right developer and right home builder for this development to come alive as we envisioned it."
Bonner said although the Highlands could take 40-50 years to be built out, that also gives the City Council plenty of time to fully address issues that arise. Bonner said he believes that buyers will appreciate the extensive and precise planned unit development. "With a PUD, people know what they're getting and they know who their neighbor will be."