The Tallahassee Democrat reports that affordable housing is not St. Joe
Company 's interest.

Some call the Democrat a newspaper, but this is not news. When St. Joe (Arvida Development Corporation) requested original approval to build its Southwood complex, housing advocates lobbied for affordable housing to be incorporated into this multi-million dollar development. St. Joe said it couldn't possibly build affordable housing as a part of its 3,200 acre master-planned development (code for all the houses look alike). The Democrat article quotes St. Joe officials as saying they have "struggled to figure out how to build homes for less than $100,000." And company spokesperson Jerry Ray stated that "Our skills don't include the dcevelopment of that sort of product."

In the 4,700 unit development being built, Southwood homes range from $191,900 to $304,900 and up. You can buy an apartment--oops, I mean a townhome--with prices ranging from $172,900 to $195,900. State workers in the offices bordering Southwood earn 62% less than the national average for public employees according to a 1999 survey by Florida Tax Watch and many could not afford these houses prices.

St. Joe/Arvida builds developments throughout Florida with quaint names such as "Water Color" and "Summer Camp"

The Southwood brochure said "Welcome to a charming and progressive community now coming to life in Tallahassee, Florida. A truly inspired environment where people of all ages will enjoy the lifestyle they've always wanted to live." When I commented via E-mail on their marketing campaign, I noted the lack of diversity among the photos of smiling folks living and playing in Southwood. Even though they had solicited my comments, I never got a response. Seems the word "progressive" in their brochures may be misued.

Now the company wants to develop an additional 4,500 acres of land that it owns just south of its current Tallahassee development. A group recommending that building be allowed indicated that making more land available for homes will help reduce the cost of new homes.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor said people are mistaken if they expect St. Joe to provide affordable housing.

I say after the inital dealings with this company, expectations throughout the community are zero.

Commissioner Proctor is correct when he said that rather than building affordable housing for low-income residents, St. Joe paid into a government fund that provides for affordable housing outside of SouthWood. However, to date, no affordable house has been built with money from this fund managed jointly by the City of Tallahassee and Leon County.

See also Whose Florida Click on St. Joe Panhandle