Waiting 79 Years to Build a Home

My wife M.C. Moewe wrote this week's cover story for Folio Weekly, Jacksonville's alternative paper. While looking at real estate in the St. Augustine area, she found Vermont Heights, a failed land development off Interstate Highway 95 that continues to attract and disappoint new buyers, 79 years after it was launched.

The Vermont Heights neighborhood has 600 residential lots within 10 minutes of the Atlantic Ocean and some of the best beaches in Florida. But no one can build there because they have no roads. (Today, a developer would never be allowed to sell lots without roads and utilities.)

She interviewed the daughter of the original developer, who lives in one of the handful of houses that were built back in the 1920s, and found a July 14, 1925, newspaper ad touting the development and its lot prices from $75 to $300:

"Lots high and dry, an abundance of oak and pine trees. Electric lights, telephones and soft water, 5-8 miles off Dixie Highway, both sides ... Highest point in St. Johns County -- wide streets, 12 parks and 80-foot boulevard. An ideal place to establish a home and offers golden opportunity for investment. Prices will advance rapidly as sales increase."

How old is this still-unfulfilled project? The same newspaper had a story from the Scopes Monkey Trial.

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