If you’ve heard anything about Water Ways Township and don’t know what it is, think back to the proposed Genesis Point development.
The name’s changed, but the project is still the same – spanning more than 2,300 acres and zoned for somewhere around 3,000 units, located off Hwy. 144 down Oak Level Road.
"Water is such a dominant feature in our design, we thought this new name was very appropriate," Paul Fletcher told the Richmond Hill Rotary on Thursday.
Fletcher, of Fletcher Management Company in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., has been working in the development industry since 1962 and began his investment in Richmond Hill three years ago.
Today, Fletcher estimates the company has invested somewhere around $90 million in the project already.
"This is happening now," he said. "The arterial road system is now underway and we’ve started an interconnected lake system which will span three miles."
Fletcher described the tract as "the prettiest piece of land we’ve ever been involved with," and said his company is interested in protecting the quality, noting the live oak canopies that stretch along the edges of the site will all be kept intact.
Fletcher said the entire Water Ways project will take 15 to 25 years, with a little help from a rebounding real estate market.
"It’s as difficult an environment right now as I’ve ever seen," Fletcher said. "But it will return; it’s a cyclical business."
Fletcher said part of his company’s job will be to lure people to the county through a marketing plan. He pointed to the 72 million baby boomers who will be retiring in the next decade as a main target.
"One of the things that will draw the market here are the amenities," he said, noting the development has more than six miles of marsh frontage, a 177-acre lagoon and a 150-acre lake.
Tom Fazio, a worldwide "gold standard" golf course architect, will be working on a course within the development, Fletcher said. The main design will feature a village center with a pedestrian-oriented community. The outskirts of the property will have larger two and three-acre marsh front lots.
But the price tag won’t be for everyone.
"We don’t do affordable housing, these will go from about $300,000 to $3 million," he said. "Build out, as it’s put on the tax roll for Bryan County, will be close to $1 billion."
Fletcher said they are helping Bryan County finance the regional utility plan with wastewater treatment facility Genesis Point, which is currently under construction at the edge of the development site.
"They gave us a $2.2 million letter of credit to cover any shortfalls," County Administrator Phil Jones said. "The county went and took out a low interest loan to pay for the facility. Each year, you have to pay service to that debt. The letter of credit will either service that debt, or the number of homes built and occupied in the development will have to equal that amount."
Eddie Warren, realtor for RE/MAX and chairman of the school board, was a guest at the lunch and said he found the presentation very interesting.
"From what I saw, it’s a great development that I think will bring a lot to this area, depending on if they do everything they’re supposed to do," he said. "From the school board side, I’d like to see them work with us and consider a school site, because it will eventually be needed. It seems like he and the company know what they’re doing; Richmond Hill should have something to be proud of."
Fletcher told Rotarians they hope to live up to everyone’s expectations with the development.
"We think it’s going to be spectacular," he said.