"Hopefully this time next year we will have a product that is very unique and we feel like it will be well perceived," said project developer Tim Minson.
It hasn't been easy for Minson. First it was the housing bust of 2008. Then controversy with the first Uptown home built not looking like it fit in with the aesthetics of neighboring historical homes.
"Building historical homes is an oxymoron," Minson said. "It's typically that you restore or refurbish."
With the help of local preservationists, it looks like everyone is finally on the same page for the 10 acres of land encompassing the Uptown project.
"It is exciting because it's never been attempted," Minson said. "We feel like this will be a signature style street for St. Joe."
Minson said talking with others familiar with historical home design helped him understand some of the intricate details of period homes from the 19th century.
"Italianate should have a lot of bracket work in them," said local realtor Lisa Rock, who has helped Minson with the design transition.
"Queen Anne's have a lot of front work," she said. "There's a lot of chafing on posts. There's railings and a lot of pitches an angles on roofs."
"To build new is a careful blending of the architectural characteristics of historical homes and to balance that against the cost," Minson said.
Work is now pushing forward on the second Uptown house.
"We feel like we are producing a much better product, not in the sense of quality but accuracy," Minson said.
And Minson said this is just the start in building 100 living units.
"We're putting in new streets, new lighting, 400 to 500 street trees, sidewalks, of course our signature roundabout clock towers," Minson said.
Planners hope it's a result everyone can be happy with.
"I would love to see some more of the professional people of downtown live closer to downtown," Rock said. "I think it's going to be a great asset if it's done right."
"To do something this unique that most likely will not be reproduced in St. Joe or very unlikely anywhere in the United States," said Minson. "I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime event."
Minson says by spring, people will notice all the area telephone lines and retaining walls come down as progress continues.
Homes in Uptown are expected start at $180,000 and go to more than $300,000.
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