Palm Coast's Twenty-three Miles of Saltwater Canals
Located within the Palm Harbor section of the city, canals created hundreds of building lots with boat access to the Intracoastal Waterway.
By Tim Brooks, Toby's Webmaster
Palm Coast, FL – September 25, 2012 – Palm Coast is a master planned community, a project of ITT Levitt & Sons, the largest home building company in the world at the time. Levitt was the innovator that brought Levittown to Long Island in the years following World War II.
Although Palm Coast's development began only 40 years ago, ITT Levitt was not as constricted by regulations as today's developers. They were free to excavate 46 miles of fresh water canals and 23 miles of salt water canals. The canals helped drain wetlands while the excavated fill was used to elevate adjacent property. The fresh water canals are an integral part of the City's unique storm water management system. The salt water canals, located within the Palm Harbor section of the city created hundreds of building lots with boat access to the Intracoastal Waterway.
The salt water canal system has three separate sections connecting to the ICW. The North Cut and Center Cut lead to "sailboat country" on the east side of Palm Harbor Parkway. Sailboat country, which can be found via Cimmaron Drive or Cottonwood Court, is so named because boaters can traverse from the ICW to their personal home docks without going under any bridges.
The remaining (and majority) of the salt water canal system is accessed via the South cut at the Palm Coast Marina. The main canal passes beneath the Palm Harbor Parkway Bridge near the marina. It provides boaters with 16.7 feet of clearance.
Salt water canal frontage adds significant value to a home site. The median sale price of Palm Coast homes this year to date is $115,000. The median sale price of salt water canal frontage homes is $231,000. Palm Coast lots have sold this year for a median sale price of $15,500 while the median sale price of salt water canal frontage lots sold during the same period is $61,000.
Parallel canals branch off the main canals, creating fingers of land. The fingers provide room for homes on each side of the street with a cul-de-sac at the end. Lots at the end of the street are called tip lots and are more desirable. Tours of the canal system were an integral part of ITT Levitt's early sales efforts.
Of course, no story about a large real estate development is complete without some dirt. When the land was cleared, the trees were supposed to be removed and disposed of. However, one of the contractors elected to cut corners as well as trees. He buried the trees rather than carting them off. The trees began to decompose. Homes built on lots where trees had been buried soon began to settle and crack. Hence the term bore testing. Vacant lots are tested by drilling before construction to assure a proper base.
There is plenty of Florida land on which future developers can build residential projects around golf courses, lakes (retention ponds), equestrian facilities or other amenities. But the current inventory of salt water frontage is fixed by strict environmental regulations. Many Palm Harbor homes were built during the seventies and eighties. Some are small and haven't been updated. Look during the next market upswing for "tear downs;" homes bought solely for the desirability of their location. They will be torn down to be replaced with larger homes featuring more upscale features.
Your absolutly right. next phase could well be tear downs. Have owned two homes in palm coast and recently made it my permanent home. Been looking for an upgrade project, but it tough beating out the realtors.
Posted by Walter Reed
Very nice article about early Palm Coast.The land was purchased by ITT in Dec.1968 and headlined in the local newspaper on Jan. 2, 1969. The official Grand Opening of the Palm Coast development occurred on Oct. 29, 1970. Canal construction began in that year also but environmental concerns held up the opening of most of the canals until the Corps of Engineers issued the final permit on July 19, 1976 to "pull the plug" and let the water flow.
Posted by Art Dycke, City Historian