Tag: St. Augustine

St. Augustine Holiday Lights makes world’s top 10 list

When selecting a home, people are attracted to local events and “things to do.” In northeast Florida, the variety is abundant. In fact, St. Augustine is among National Geographic magazine’s best 10 locations in the world to see holiday lights. There’s still time left to check them out.

The Night of Lights kicked off in November ends on Jan. 31, 2017.

The other U.S. city named by National Geographic is Callaway Gardens, Ga.

The St. Augustine festival is 21 years old and features 2 million white lights. They sparkle on the waterfront and down the side streets, with lights strung across the park. It’s a public-private partnership rooted in history.

According to visitstaugustine.com, “Nights of Lights in St. Augustine traces its origins back to the traditional Spanish practice of displaying a white candle in windows during the Christmas holidays. Candles in the window allude to the fact that Mary and Joseph could find no inn that would give them shelter. When the Spanish put candles in their windows, they were symbolically making room in their homes and hearts for Jesus. It also reflects the welcoming attitude of the holiday season, showing that guests are welcome to the home. The stunning lights reflect the city’s 450-year history and illuminate the beautiful cityscape for lasting holiday memories. The city of St. Augustine has been celebrating Nights of Lights for 21 years.

Here’s the National Geographic’s top 10, in no particular order:

St. Augustine, Fla.

Callaway Gardens, Ga.



Hong Kong



Kobe, Japan

Medellin, Colombia

Gothenburg, Sweden


St. Johns Schools Rank Number One, Adding value to homes

The St. Johns County School District ranks number one again in the state.

The data compared statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, public school ratings, and more were included.

The 2017 Best School District ranking can be found here:


This is positive news for residents who already own a home or business in north Florida, and it’s also beneficial for future real estate transactions.

According to REALTOR.com, a number of factors play a role in home selection. The look of the home, the layout, age, and closeness to amenities are key issues. The local school district adds value as well.

A REALTOR study found the population values the “right” school with 91 percent saying school boundaries are important in their search. The complete story can be found here:


With a booming housing industry, St. Johns County recently approved a sales tax to build additional schools in the county. The latest article concerning school building projects in the county can be found here:


Winter theme at nocatee farmer’s market saturday

Santa Claus photo

A great benefit to living in St. Johns County is access to farmer’s markets that are open throughout the year. Many residents in the fast-growing neighborhoods of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and Nocatee moved to the area from the north, where fresh markets shut down with cold weather.

In Florida, fresh produce and crafts are displayed year round.

One option in this area is the Nocatee Farmer’s Market, which is open to the public and draws thousands of visitors. It is the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The unique thing about this St. Johns County market is that it features a theme every month. There are a variety of activities, demonstrations, artists and around 80 vendors.

The next big event is this Saturday, Dec. 17, for the Winter Fest. There will be live performances with holiday music and photographs with Santa. Admission is always free.

It’s not the only market though. For those of you who like to make the trip into St. Augustine on the weekends for a bit of history and charm, The Old City Farmers Market is every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the St. Augustine Amphitheater. This market also has local produce, arts and crafts, and live music.

A third option might be a trip to The St. Augustine Flea Market, which is at 2495 State Road 207. With 500 vendors, it’s a combination of bargain hunting and shopping. There are a few fresh produce scattered among the isles in the sprawling indoor/outdoor complex near Interstate 95. It’s open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, every weekend.

At Menton & Ballou, Watson Realty Corp., we know homeowners like to be in the loop on local events. Visit our blog frequently and stay informed.

Nocatee’s new Spray Park, fields, concert stage


This illustration shows the Spray Park that will be built by PARC for the Nocatee Community in 2018.
This illustration shows the Spray Park that will be built by PARC for the Nocatee Community in 2018. Credit: Nocatee Blog presented by Donna Lundgren, Nocatee Welcome Center.

Nocatee is getting a new event field, concert stage and more parking in 2017, plus a brand new four-story Spray Park in 2018.

The master developer PARC Group announced plans last week for this major expansion in the St. Johns County real estate development. Donna Lundgren, Nocatee Welcome Center Manager, put the complete story and a video for viewing on the Nocatee blog.

Real Estate Agent George Ballou of Menton & Ballou Group, Watson Realty Corp., has been living in Nocatee’s Del Webb community since there were only 115 homes.

“It’s been amazing to watch the progress of our neighborhood,” he said. “It’s always exciting to show buyers what Nocatee has to offer. These new Nocatee amenities increase the ‘wow’ factor of the development.”

Nocatee is the third best-selling planned neighborhood in the United States. With a slide tower, lazy river, whirlpool, zip line, walking trails, and shopping centers, it’s already unique.

According to the Nocatee Blog, the new Spray Park is the first and only of its kind.

You can find the video and photographs here: https://blog.nocatee.com/nocatee-unveils-plans-for-major-amenity-expansion-and-spray-park

If you don’t want to watch the opening, slide the video to 2:30 into the production to get the details.

If you are interested in real estate in St. Johns County, Nocatee, St. Augustine, and Ponte Vedra, be sure to contact Watson Realty Corp.’s No. 1 selling group—Menton & Ballou. It’s your Gold Standard.


St. Johns County – Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

Investing in real estate in St. Johns County has obvious benefits. St. Johns County residents and visitors can access the beautiful Florida beaches, can enjoy cities with historic charm, and can select from a variety of new housing developments and shopping centers. There’s more good news though. It is also the healthiest and wealthiest county in Florida, with the number-one rated school district.

That makes the St. Johns County, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and Nocatee healthy, wealthy and wise!

Those statistics come from studies and reports released this year. Because Menton & Ballou Group wants to share good news, here is a breakdown of the key points:

HEALTH—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin released the report that measured overall health in every county in the United States. Areas included access to health care, health behaviors, social factors, quality of life, length of life, air pollution, drinking water, commute time, and much more.

Of the state’s 67 counties, St. Johns is the healthiest in Florida in health factors and health outcomes. Specifically, the county ranks first in quality of life and social and economic factors and is second in length of life as well as clinical care.

WEALTH—In the study on wealth, the U.S. Census Bureau released the American Community Survey of 2015 results, which put St. Johns in the top spot.

With 83,000 households and a low unemployment rate, the median income was just more than $70,000. That compares to the median income in the state of $49,426. Some 10.5 percent made more than $200,000 annually.

The high level of education is likely a factor, with almost 45 percent of the residents 25 or older having a college degree or higher. Only 5 percent did not have a high school diploma.

SCHOOL DISTRICT—The district consistently ranks high in the state for education, coming in first for the past seven years for the FCAT points and fourth in the state for the best graduation rate. As a Grade “A” District of the Florida Department of Education, St. Johns County had 28 A schools, four B schools, and only two C schools. It’s only one of five districts in the state to earn an A for 12 consecutive years.

At Menton & Ballou, we enjoy posting about our great community of St. Johns County, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and St. Augustine. Be sure to contact our group for your real estate needs.

Shearwater Amenities



The social and recreational centerpiece of Shearwater is an amazing assemblage of amenities, scenery, and healthy living activities. From the resort-style Kayak Club and Fitness Lodge, to the scenic beauty of Trout Creek and the surrounding preserved habitat, to the trail system and parks, Shearwater blends natural inspiration and ease like no other.

Approximately 2,600 homes are expected to be built over multiple phases. An impressive array of exciting amenities will include:

– Twelve miles of paved, boardwalk, and natural trails connecting residents to 600 acres of preserved habitat that will feature a variety of ponds, lakes and wetlands
– An assortment of pocket parks
– Four illuminated Har-Tru clay tennis courts
– Kayak Club (6,800+ total square feet—4,500+ under air)
– Fitness Lodge (7,200+ total square feet—5,800+ under air)
– Playfields and multiple playgrounds
– Resort-style lagoon pool and lap pool
– Slide tower
– Winding lazy river
– Kayak and canoe launch that will provide direct access to Trout Creek

The most remarkable amenities at Shearwater will be the Kayak Club and the Fitness Lodge, which form the social and recreational core of the community. When it opens early next summer, the Kayak Club will feature a variety of gathering spaces and event venues within its 6,800 square foot expanse. Shearwater’s on-site Lifestyle Director will plan frequent social activities and special events. The Lifestyle Director will also be able to recommend activities that best align with your family’s needs and interests. The 7,200 square foot Fitness Lodge will feature a large work-out area with state-of-the-art cardio and muscle building equipment. Residents will have the opportunity to work with a personal trainer or take group fitness classes in the dedicated fitness room.

Along with its abundance of community amenities, Shearwater will offer convenient access to outstanding public and private schools, St. Johns County national parks, beaches, golf, shopping, entertainment and a regional airport.

Posted from: http://shearwaterliving.com/kayak-club-will-be-the-showcase-amenity-at-shearwater/

All About Shearwater – St. Johns County, Florida



The best communities have a way of weaving the elements of everyday life into a fabric that feels comfortable yet complete.

At Shearwater, open spaces and intimate neighborhoods intermingle. Walking trails, neighborhood parks, and preserved natural habitat connect you to the land. And Trout Creek supplies scenic beauty, as well as kayak and canoe access. All of this, in addition to an amazing multifaceted community center with an active social calendar, provides a setting for gathering and recreation with an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle for all ages.

And, because you are half-way between Jacksonville and historic St. Augustine, you’re close to all the cultural, entertainment, and recreational attractions these dynamic cities have to offer.


What is it that makes a community like Shearwater work? How do we build community pride and longevity? We’ve found some common denominators that make for exceptional, enduring places to live. Our “Vital Communities™” approach is built on five principles:

  • HEALTHY LIVING – At Shearwater, you’ll find an abundance of recreational opportunities, including an extensive trail system, parks, an expansive amenity center with resort-style pools, Fitness Lodge and more.
  • ENGAGEMENT – Our clubhouse, streetscapes, front porches, gathering spaces, activities, and events all contribute to a vibrant community life.
  • DESIGN – Shearwater’s distinctive regional architecture and design aesthetic offer contemporary style and enduring integrity.
  • CONNECTIVITY – In addition to the Kayak Club’s free Wi-Fi services, you’ll find an Lifestyle Director who specializes in connecting neighbors and friends through community involvement and our user friendly Shearwater fitness app. Connections also extend to the larger region through collaborative programs and partnerships.
  • STEWARDSHIP – Our land development and homebuilding practices adhere to green principles. This approach is carefully passed on to the homeowners association and individual households as a cause worth embracing.


One part sanctuary. One part playground. One part social hub.

A Vital Community affords its residents a rich and active lifestyle. A lifestyle that provides something richly experiential every day. Here at Shearwater, whether it’s a conversation with neighbors from your front porch, a chance meeting on the trail, kayaking down Trout Creek, or a shared moment at a community event, it’s a notion that builds meaning over time.

Posted from: http://shearwaterliving.com/life-here/#

The Night of Lights at Palencia

Jody Steele with the MENTON AND BALLOU GROUP sponsored the Night of Lights at Palencia on Sunday December 6, 2015.  The neighborhood looked beautiful with our 3,000 luminaries glowing throughout the night! This was the very first inaugural Night of Lights to help celebrate the holidays in Palencia!

Night of Lights - 1


Night of Lights - 2


Night of Lights - 3