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, N.Y. 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 saltwater 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 stormwater management system. The saltwater canals, located within the Palm Harbor section of the city, created hundreds of building lots with boat access to the Intracoastal Waterway.
The saltwater 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, got its name because boaters can traverse from the ICW to their personal home docks without going under any bridges.
The remaining (and majority) of the saltwater 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.
Saltwater 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 saltwater 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 saltwater 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.
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 saltwater frontage is fixed by strict environmental regulations. Many Palm Harbor homes were built during the 1970s and 1980s. 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 with more upscale features.