From its earliest days of settlements during the Spanish ownership of Florida, Arlington – the community west of the Regency Square shopping area and north of Beach Boulevard- has played an important role in Jacksonville’s housing history. During the 1800s, lumber and grist mills were established and, after the Civil War, more homes were constructed. It also was the site of religious colonies and a popular railroad line. Starting in 1950 and assisted by the opening of the Mathews Bridge in 1953, Arlington was the fastest-growing area in Duval County for the next 20 years. Arlington has since mushroomed far beyond its original boundaries. Real estate professionals familiar with the area see a renewed interest in some of the older homes, especially those with waterfront property. Some of these homes date back to the early 1900s.
Bordered by Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to north, Atlantic Boulevard to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Atlantic Beach offers a small town atmosphere with easy access to the ocean. Stretching only about 25 blocks from north to south, Atlantic Beach is a closed end community of more than 13,000 with a neighborhood feeling. The town center, near One Ocean Resort and Spa, is a popular gathering point with many quaint eateries and boutiques. Atlantic Beach has plenty of parks with opportunities for a variety of activities such as tennis, racquetball, basketball, baseball and nature hikes, as well as playground equipment. In addition, the Bull Recreational Area houses the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theater. The community is dominated by single-family homes, and duplexes. Many Atlantic Beach residents work in downtown Jacksonville or the Southpoint area, both about a 30 to 45 minute commute, depending on traffic. Community activities are an important part of the Atlantic Beach lifestyle. Popular events include the Farmers Market, the annual Dancing in the Street festival in May, yoga and mediation classes, and a local art walk on Thursday evenings. Although part of the greater Jacksonville municipality, Atlantic Beach has its own mayor, city council, police and fire departments.
Straddling the eastern bank of the St. Johns River at one of its widest points, and nestled between Mandarin, San Jose and Baymeadows lies Beauclerc, an idyllic, tree-lined neighborhood conveniently located with easy access to greater Jacksonville. Sections of the neighborhood have developed an overhanging canopy, with the branches of trees on opposite sides of the roadway interlocking high above and providing a shaded pathway for residents and cars. The area’s larger lots translate into homes with more floor space and bigger yards, some encompassing more than half an acre. Though many homes date from the 1970s, most homeowners have steadily updated interiors, giving most properties a modern touch with few renovations needed. Home styles range from traditional to contemporary to colonial, the variety of architecture stemming from the many different builders who constructed homes over the years. Many houses feature brick construction. Beauclerc is centrally located to shopping areas; proximity to I-295 allows residents access to many other parts of the city. The St. Johns River marks the neighborhood’s border, so boating is a popular recreational outlet. A number of marinas dot the area, including the Epping Forest Yacht Club, a half-mile north of the Epping Forest neighborhood. The club’s centerpiece is a beautiful Spanish Renaissance-style mansion, originally built by a DuPont family heir in 1927.
Cedar Hills/Confederate Point/Jacksonville Heights
The close-knit neighborhoods of Cedar Hills, Confederate Point and Jacksonville Heights received renewed interest as residential communities as well as retail and commercial areas several years ago. These long-standing communities on the Westside lie east and west of I-295 along 103rd Street experienced resurgence in the construction of new subdivisions, the remodeling of existing homes and opening of new stores and shopping centers. Major thoroughfares that connect these communities to Jacksonville include Old Middleburg Road, Blanding Boulevard and Lane Avenue. One of the last vestiges of a simpler, country Jacksonville lifestyle, developments took place in the area in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, resulting in homes built in a variety of styles. Property values are increasing, but not skyrocketing. Residents are a short drive from the Cecil Field Commerce Center, an area of growing industry and several recreational facilities.
This area in Jacksonville offers an abundance of waterfront property and pristine views of the St. Johns, Trout and Broward rivers, and Dunn Creek. It is an area where industry and nature coexist. Jacksonville’s Northside is a diamond in the rough, offering an expanse of land to those desiring a quieter lifestyle. Although the area has been known primarily for industry, the tides have turned. People now see the Northside as incredibly convenient to downtown, Jacksonville International Airport (only a 15-minute drive), and varied recreational opportunities such as Big Talbot and Little Talbot islands, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and Huguenot Park. The Dames Point area backs up to 56,000 acres of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. The area has space to expand with waterfront land available.
Five Points- named for where Park, Margaret and Lomax streets come together from five directions is a distinct are of the Riverside neighborhood. It stands on its own because of its unusual nature. Colorful storefronts, restaurants and funky specialty shops, some with a lot of attitude, make up the retail part of this area. Within eyesight and walking distance are schools, churches, parks and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. The area is known for its diversity, young people with generational preferences in clothing, hair color and styles and more conservatively attired people of all ages mingle easily at the area’s restaurants, the neighborhood Publix and Starbucks.
Fort Caroline/East Arlington
Fort Caroline is an area less than 15 square miles east of downtown Jacksonville on the southern shore with breathtaking views of rolling terrain and stately oaks. In their leisure time, families in Fort Caroline take advantage of their natural surroundings by hiking, exploring kayaking and fishing. They don’t have to go far: a protected nature preserve is practically in their backyard. Fort Caroline National Memorial, a part of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, pays tribute to early French settlement efforts with a replica fort exhibit and visitor’s education center. Just next door is St. Johns Bluff at Ribault Monument, a memorial to Jean Ribault, one of the area’s first explorers. The view from the bluff offers a bird’s-eye vista of the St. Johns River, once known as the Rive of May. For home buyers in search country club living, one of the area’s more established private clubs is Hidden Hills Country Club, founded in 1965. Although new homes are going up quickly, hundreds of acres in Fort Caroline will remain untouched because of their historic standing.
Intracoastal and Intracoastal West
When you stop in one of the neighborhoods along the Intracoastal Waterway, taking in its vibrant ecosystem, you will see why so many residents have selected the area to call their home. It is, for all practical purposes, the city’s eastern frontier not quite the Beaches, not quite Jacksonville. It is a unique community, a place like no other in Northeast Florida. The Intracoastal West real estate market is almost entirely made up of single-family homes. Land is also available for custom homes. Development didn’t stop with single-family homes. Spots along the Intracoastal were tapped for condos, such as Marina San Pablo off Butler Boulevard, the first tower of which was completed in late 2006 and immeadiately sold out. Bove LLC and Remi Properties announced the launch of the Aphora Coach Homes at Marina San Pablo, an $11 million development in 2016. Construction for first phase of the upscale townhomes began in May. West of what residents call “The Big Ditch” was once tree farms and cow pastures along Butler Boulevard, then a two-lane road leading to the beach. Begun simply as an access road to the University of North Florida, it is now six lanes for most of its length. Homes in the region between Butler Boulevard along Hodges and Kernan roads to Atlantic Boulevard appeal to home buyers in every income level. Gated golf communities, such as Jacksonville Golf and Country Club and Glem Kernan Golf and Country Club, are housing choices. Also in the area are the University of North Florida campus and St. Johns Town Center, an upscale super-regional open-air mall with a variety of shops and restaurants.
Formerly known as the beach commercial center, Jacksonville Beach was full of businesses and residential rental property. It was a nice place to visit or shop. Of course, the resort and laid-back lifestyle is Jacksonville Beach’s biggest perk. The area is a community of the young and active. Head out on the weekends and you’ll see young people everywhere playing on school grounds, bicycling along the ocean, or riding the waves on surfboards. Cultural, music and entertainment events are often on stage in Jacksonville Beach. The Seawalk Pavilion is the focal point of beach festivals, which bring everything from blues legends to Latin bands to the stage. There’s a vibrant arts community throughout Jacksonville Beach by day or night. You can hear classical music performed at St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church throughout the fall as part of the Beaches’ two community theater groups. All this activity, combined with some vigorous efforts by the city of Jacksonville Beach to beautify the area, adds to the demand for Jacksonville Beach property.
A neighborhood reaching back from the shores of the Ortega, Cedar and St. Johns rivers, Lake Shore is a family community that consists of both modest residences and waterfront homes. Lake Shore real estate is primarily made up of medium-sized (three of four bedrooms) to small (studio to two bedrooms) single family homes and small apartment buildings. Most of residential real estate is owner occupied. Many of the residences in the Lake Shore neighborhood are older, well-established and built between 1940 and 1969. A number of residences were built before 1940, but it was primarily developed after the Jacksonville Naval Air Station boom in the 1940s. Because of its major road access Blanding Boulevard, Cassat Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard cross the area, Lake Shore residents are a quick drive away from shopping at Roosevelt Square, restaurants, the river and downtown.
Bordered by the Beauclerc area to the north, Julington Creek to the south and the St. Johns River to the west, Mandarin offers residents a suburban, family focused lifestyle in an area that is quaint, charming and filled with history. Named for the Mandarin orange in 1830, this neighborhood on the St. Johns River was once described as “tropical paradise” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both Harriet Beecher Stowe, and painter Lee Adams once lived. Mandarin is characterized by its magnificent oak trees hung with dramatic Spanish moss and boasts some of the best views of the St. Johns River in greater Jacksonville. Once an important river port for shipping oranges and other citrus fruit northward, today Mandarin is known as a family-friendly area with a blend of residential areas and shopping centers.
Mayport, the nation;s oldest fishing village, is an eclectic mix of a beach community and quaint town with a strong military presence. It is the site of Naval Station Mayport, which is one of three major Navy installations in the Jacksonville area. Mayport is the most northern of the Jacksonville beaches, and home to delicious seafood restaurants, offering their freshest catch. Residents and visitors can dine on freshly caught seafood, including the local specialty, Mayport shrimp, and enjoy nature at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, the northernmost beach on the south side of the St. Johns River. The Moncrief Improvement Association has made great strides and it, along with the community’s City Council representatives, church-funded charities and other groups are continually working to beautify the area. Moncrief residents enjoy quick access to the downtown area. the airport, retail shopping centers and the core of the city. The addition of some major retailers, as well as small businesses, offer practically all of the same services and goods other Jacksonville communities enjoy. New residential construction is coming to Moncrief and the surrounding areas.
The youngest and smallest of the beaches neighborhoods, Neptune Beach has defined itself by becoming the closest thing to a suburban area among Jacksonville’s oceanfront communities. Neptune Beach’s boundaries run from Atlantic Boulevard to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Intracoastal Waterwway to the west and Seagate Avenue to the south. According to Wayne Wood’s Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage, Neptune Beach first came into being 1931 when the citizens organized a tax revolt against the city of Jacksonville Beach for better services. Since 1989, it has operated under an elected mayor, council and city manager government. The name Neptune is attributed to resident Dan G. Wheeler. Wheeler, who regularly walked to Mayport to catch the train for work in Jacksonville, found out that if he constructed a station near his home, the train would have to stop there. He built the station in 1922 and named the station Neptune. Its been the name ever since. Legendary Pete’s Bar is the granddaddy of all of Duval County watering holes, with the area’s first liquor license issued in 1933. It also was featured in John Grisham’s novel, The Brethen. One of the strongest similarities among Neptune Beach and the other beaches communities is the steady rise in property values.
Ortega and Ortega Forest
The currents of the Ortega River have swept ashore a host of colorful characters: renowned botanist William Bartram; highwayman and cattle rustler Daniel McGritt and Don Juan McQueen, who attempted to establish a plantation on his 1791 Ortega land grant, but was forced out by the attacks of Georgians and the French. There was even a persistent rumor that gangster George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife were the mysterious couple who abruptly left their rented Grand Avenue home hours before a midnight police raid in 1933. Present-day Ortega is defined by its rivers, tree-shaded home sites and parks, and an eclectic collection of spectacular architectural styles. Mediterranean Revival homes sit side-by-side with colonial-style frame houses. Grand Tudors are alongside cedar-shingle homes. Perhaps the most obvious characteristics of today’s Ortega is its stability. It is well-known as a place to raise a family and to remain even after the children are grown and have left home. Roosevelt Square, a collection of restaurants and shops, is just across the river, and the Ortega Village shopping area has its own array of retail and service businesses. Also drawing residents is Ortega’s physical beauty. The view of the city from across the water is spectacular, and there seems to be a park around every corner. Ortega, long known as home to “Old Jacksonville” families, has waterfront home prices that can reach into the multi-millions.
In 1868, Confederate veteran Miles Price sold 500 acres of his property, known as Dell’s Bluff, to a Yankee, Edward M. Cheney, and financial backer John M. Forbes of Boston for $10,000 in gold. Forbes and Cheney built grand riverfront homes and waited for the influx of residents. For the next 30 years, however, they remained the only homeowners in the very rural area. On May 3, 1901, in less than 24 hours, downtown Jacksonville and the majority of the city’s homes disappeared in a blazing inferno, sparked by a fire that spread from the Cleveland Fiber Factory. With downtown Jacksonville in ruins from the Great Fire, residents relocated in droves to the suburbs, starting with Riverside. Soon the riverfront on Riverside Avenue was lined with elegant mansions and within 10 years was being called one of the most beautiful streets in America. Architects and construction companies from all over the country had followed the fire to Jacksonville, and Riverside benefited greatly. Innovative home designs were commissioned by lumber magnate Wellington W. Cummer and his two sons, Waldo and Arthur, Jacksonville’s Mayor J.E.T. Bowden, Col. Raymond Cay and Episcopal Bishop Edwin G. Weed. Homes were designed by Mark & Sheftall, Henry J. Klutho and Addison Mizner. The expansion continued with the creation of Avondale, an exclusive development planned by a group of investors led by Telfair Stockton. Appealing unabashedly to the well-to-do, Avondale was a huge success with nearly 200 homes built in its first two years. Most of the residences were two stories and many were designed in the Mediterranean Revival style, which Mizner had earlier taken to South Florida and which became the strongest architectural statement of 1920s Florida. Klutho brought the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Prairie style to Jacksonville. The simple bungalow, influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, made a big statement: along with Avondale, Riverside has the largest collection of bungalows of any neighborhood in Florida. Thanks to historically minded people and the Riverside Avondale Preservation Association, much of the distinctive architecture remains today. You can see many houses with the brown RAP plaque symbolic of a restoration effort. Developers are also continuing to take a fresh look at old buildings and finding innovative new uses for them. The Riverside Arts Market has become a popular destination on Saturdays March through December. Based on a concept Dr. Wayne Wood, local historian, brought back to Jacksonville from Oregon, the location under the Fuller Warren Bridge provides protection from the weather and features local artists in a number of media, backed goods, entertainment, a farmers market and something for just about everyone. Where Park and King streets intersect has become the hub of gastropubs, bakeries, restaurants, vintage shops and a popular meeting place. The Blind Rabbit, Kickbacks, Carmine’s Pie House, and Lola’s Burrito and Burger Joint are interspersed with smaller local offerings and longtime favorites, such as Whiteway Deli, which has been around since the 1920s. Breweries, Bold City Brewery and Intuition Ale Works, have also found a home on King Street. The area has homes in every price range from bungalows up to millions of dollars for estates on the St. Johns River.
St. Nicholas’ history began in 1822 when British settled the northern bank of the St. Johns River at the narrow crossing called the “Cow Ford” and the Spanish fortified the Pass de San Nicolas along the southern bank, making it an important northerly point of defense for St. Augustine. The area south of the river near the former fort has continued to be known as St. Nicholas, a tribute to days of yore. After the Civil War and through the late 1800s, the area from the ferry landing to Arlington River, including Empire Point, was referred to as the village of St. Nicholas. The community, the heart of which lies where Beach and Atlantic boulevards meet, is a few minutes from I-95, downtown and the San Marco shopping district. It also is home to two of the most respected private high schools in the area. Episcopal and Bishop Kenny both have beautiful campuses spotted with century- old oaks standing tall along waterfront property with spectacular views of downtown Jacksonville.
Born of the Florida land boom in 1925 on the tree-shaded eastern bank of the St. Johns River, San Jose Estates was the most ambitious land development in North Florida in its day. Hotels, a yacht club, shopping center, schools, a country club and hundreds of houses were planned. The best architectural, design and development firms retained. A national advertising campaign was so successful that construction crews worked around the clock to meet the demands of prospective buyers from across the country. By late 1926, all construction on San Jose Estates had ceased. The Great Depression loomed on the horizon, and Florida’s boom became a bust. Only one hotel, the country club and 31 houses were built. The development was dead, but the San Jose neighborhood lived on. Today, the San Jose Hotel is the private Bolles School; the development’s administration building has become San Jose Episcopal Church; and the site of the never-built second hotel became the Alfred I. duPont estate, Epping Forest now a yacht club surrounded by upscale homes and condominiums. Only San Jose Country Club still functions as it did upon completion. Although renovations have updated the clubhouse interior and facilities, the club’s architecture remains intact. In 1985, the remaining San Jose Estates structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many other architectural styles have found a home in San Jose, giving it an eclectic appeal. Contributing to the community’s good looks and overall allure are its sweeping trees and many parks. The central locations is minutes from downtown or Southpoint and well within a half-hour of Jacksonville’s beaches. Fine restaurants and good shopping add to San Jose’s appeal.
Red Bank Plantation House on Greenridge Road, the oldest know structure still standing in San Marco, was completed in 1857 by Albert Gallatin Phillips, Jacksonville’s sheriff from 1833 to 1839. Phillips Highway, on the periphery of San Marco, was named for one of his sons, Judge Henry B. Phillips. No longer in existence, Villa Alexandria was the grandest structure of its time. Built in 1872 by Martha Reed Mitchell, sister of former Florida Governor Harrison Reed, it stood on a 140-acre tract on the St. Johns River. Mitchell’s home was a showplace and served as the center of her many charitable activities- St. Luke’s Hospital (now St. Vincent’s Southside) and All Saints Episcopal Church, among others. Mitchell’s neighbors in the Fletcher Park area were 158 shipyard workers living in Henry Klutho- designed homes. World War I saw a boom in shipbuilding, creating in turn a need for housing for its workers. Today, 12 of these homes surround Fletcher Park with its 1883 church, now home to the San Marco Preservation Society. Modern residential development came to San Marco with the 1921 completion of the St. Johns River Bridge, later renamed the Acosta Bridge. Then, came Telfair Stockton and his plans for an 80-acre subdivision called San Marco. Streets were curved to show off trees and scenic vistas and Lake Marco was formed out of an old brickyard. The mix of architectural styles reflected residents’ strong interest in the outside world. In 1926, the shopping district was load out at the corner of Atlantic and San Marco boulevards. Theatre Jacksonville, one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating community theater groups, is housed in a Art Deco building dating from 1937. With its many-tiered fountain and wrought iron sculpture still intact, the area thrives today as home to an eclectic collection of trendy shops, theaters and restaurants.
Before 1956, the area known as San Mateo was mostly forest with huge oaks laden with Spanish moss, wild holly trees and an abundance of magnolias, hickories, pines and wildflowers. Wildlife was abundant. In the winter of 1955-1956, though, development found the area and the first families began moving in. Now, the area is a quiet residential neighborhood of 50-plus-year-old homes on the northern bank of the St. Johns River. The community name comes from the Spanish name given to the river in the 1560s, Rio de San Mateo (River of St. Matthew).
This is the confusing one. Southside is really more of a general location than a pure neighborhood, but you’ll hear it referred to quite often as where people live. San Jose is on Southside, but so is Southside Estates, across the river and 15 miles away. Because we’ve outlined particular neighborhoods within Southside, we’re identifying it here as north of Butler Boulevard, south of Atlantic Boulevard, east of University Boulevard and west of St. Johns Bluff Road. Not surprisingly, Southside has a diverse mix of residential styles and offerings within its borders. Neighborhood offerings range from working class, single-family homes, condos and townhomes to gated communities with all the amenties. There are a host of retailers and restaurants in the area, and Regency Square and The Avenues malls are just a 10- to 20- minute drive away. Easy access to the St. Johns River through tributaries such as Pottsburg Creek appeals to those interested in fishing and boating. Southside is in close proximity to the University of North Florida and the Florida State College at Jacksonville’s South Campus.
Timuquana and Venetia
With an area along one of the most scenic strectches of the St. Johns River, the Venetia and Timuquana area is a little bit of heaven. Southeast of Ortega off Roosevelt Boulevard and by the river and Timuquana Country Club, the Westside communities have beautiful vistas galore. The private country club is a buffer from the hustle and bustle of the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, while the Timuquana Yacht Club also provides relaxation on the river for its members. The homes are older but beautifully kept, with expansive manicured lawns. While you might be able to find a house in the nearby area for less, most are in the multi-hundred-thousands. On the river, of course, prices can reach $1 million-plus.