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New Florida Margaritaville planned - but not for Tampa Bay

The next Jimmy Buffett-themed community will be in the Panhandle.
Latitude Margaritaville Watersound is planned for this site in Bay County in Florida's Panhandle.
Latitude Margaritaville Watersound is planned for this site in Bay County in Florida's Panhandle. [ DAVID S. SOLIDAY | Minto Communities/The St. Joe Company ]
Published Dec. 17, 2019
Updated Dec. 17, 2019

Want to waste away those golden years with all things Jimmy Buffett? If everything goes as planned, you'’ll be able to in Florida’s Panhandle as well as in Daytona Beach and South Carolina’s Hilton Head area.

Minto Communities, Margaritaville Holdings and the St. Joe Company said this week that they have started land development activities for Latitude Margaritaville in Bay County near Panama City. An official groundbreaking ceremony is planned this spring for what would be the third Buffett-infused residential development.

“We believe that Northwest Florida is the perfect location for this Latitude Margaritaville community,” Jorge Gonzalez, St. Joe’s president and CEO, said in a statement. "This region is uniquely suited to offer the type of lifestyle residents of these communities have come to enjoy.''

RELATED: Real-life Margaritaville wows parrothead retirees

The initial phase of the project is expected to include approximately 3,500 homes with a sales center, model homes and resort-style amenities for the 55-and-older crowd. Both the center and models could open in early 2021.

Latitude Margaritavilles are geared to  "active adults'' 55 and older.
Latitude Margaritavilles are geared to "active adults'' 55 and older. [ ROGER PAPERNO 2019 | Minto Communities/The St. Joe Company ]

St. Joe, a real estate developer and one of Florida’s largest private landowners, will provide the site along 15 miles of frontage it owns on the Intracoastal Waterway connecting West Bay with Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The company also has started planning for new marina facilities and commercial villages adjacent to the proposed Margaritaville. Delta, Southwest, American and United fly into a nearby airport.

The first Latitude Margaritaville opened last year just west of Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach with shuttle service to the beaches about 15 minutes away. It currently has about 1,200 "parrotheads’' living there — as Buffett fans are called — and was ranked the 2019 Best 55+Community of the Year by the National Association of Homebuilders. Latitude Margaritaville Hilton Head, with around 450 residents, is in Hardeeville, S.C., a few miles from Hilton Head Island.

Additional communities are planned although none for the Tampa area, a Minto executive said.

Buffett, who was born in Mississippi but popularized a laid-back Florida lifestyle, has parlayed his fame into lucrative business ventures that helped boost his annual income to $50 million as of July, ranking him 57th on Forbes’ list of top paid global celebrities. Margaritaville resorts are in several states and countries. The massive lifestyle brand also includes apparel, footwear and home decor, as well as tequila and margarita mixes. The musical Escape to Margaritaville had a several-month run on Broadway in 2017.