When St Johns County developer Jay McGarvey offers new luxury homesites at Ponte Vedra Beach’s Marsh Dunes II there’s something that won’t be included. McGarvey has donated a parcel of land to the north to the North Florida Land Trust.
The veteran developer is not required to set this latest property donation aside as part of a wetland’s mitigation plan. He’s simply continuing a long-standing tradition of preserving what makes Florida a special place to the people who purchase homes here: its natural resources.
“It’s what makes Jay a very extraordinary person. He gets it,” said Jim McCarthy, executive director of the North Florida Land Trust. “He could build on that land, but instead, he’s decided it’s for everybody’s benefit.”
McGarvey has been a leader among developers in the race against time for conservation in Northeast Florida where McCarthy said earlier today that development is happening quickly—faster than money is pouring into the Land Trust’s coffers. The property at issue in this donation is part of the Guana River State Park wetlands, which provides critical flood protection for the area and habitat for native species.
“Jay was really the impetus for that whole Guana River preserve,” McCarthy said. “What he has done goes above and beyond.”
McGarvey’s was the first donation ever made to the Land Trust in St Johns County and the second to the organization overall. It would be the first of many contributions from McGarvey to the Land Trust in the years that followed. He kicked off the Land Trust’s preservation of the Guana River Preserve in 2004 with a donation of 39-acres and then persuaded fellow developers to come forward with contributions of their own.
The Guana River Preserve is a critical part of the community’s ecosystem. Marsh grasses take pollutants out of the water. And, each acre of marshlands can hold up to 1.5 million gallons of flood water. He pegs the economic benefit at $1.6 million. That’s enormously helpful to people living downriver, McCarthy said.
McGarvey’s commitment to quality of life in Northeast Florida extends to other philanthropy as well. McGarvey donated funds for historic preservation of a community building in St Augustine Beach and for the construction of St Augustine Beach’s Splash Park. McGarvey’s thoughtfully designed and heralded St. Augustine Beach communities include Sea Colony, Sea Grove, Anastasia Dunes and Sea View. He donated land for a nearby library and provided landscaping for all St. Augustine Beach medians along SR-A1A.