Monday, April 2

Impressions of Magnolia Grove at Kernan and McCormick

I took the kids over to the new subdivision in the area in order to see the trends in new homes and neighborhoods. The basic takeaway is that we're happy to be in Kernan Forest, and this short review might help those of you considering the location.

The Good
Magnolia Grove is convenient. It's close employment at Mayport and the 295. It's right on both McCormick (Wonderwood) and Kernan. It's right next to Grace Lutheran Church and School, as well as Faithbridge Church. Less than ten minutes to the expressway and fifteen to the beach, kind of in the sweet zone in Jacksonville. The small lots in this are actually a plus because mowing can be a real pain in the summer in Florida.

These houses seem nice. They are new, and the two models are perfectly decent representations of what you'd expect out of a mid-level non-custom home. You'll like the quartz counters and open layouts. We had quartz in Milwaukee, and those are top-notch counters. Maybe we'll add them to our current house someday.

The Not as Good
If you've got kids, this small neighborhood is going to be kind of sad. The lots are generally 50x90, which translates to small, especially when you drop a 2,000 square foot house on the lot. Honestly, it wouldn't matter if there was something to walk to, but there isn't, so you'll be living right on top of your neighbor with no place to go. Actually, you'll probably walk over to Kernan Forest's playset and basketball courts. Actually, I'd get all the neighbors together and find out if there's a way to join the HOA there because you'll want to.

My kids thought it would be a nice place for their grandparents to live, but without a park and with tiny lots, my kids said they were much happier where we are for about $50,000 less for a comparable house. Sure, our homes are a little older in Kernan Forest, but I'd rather put some upgrades into a house in this neighborhood, with lots twice the size and a community pool.

You might also want to think about the views and the noise. From what we could tell, you don't see the traffic on McCormick, but it's certainly there. The standard fencing around Magnolia Grove does very little to improve the situation. If I was seriously considering this subdivision, I'd tell KB Home to add something more substantial. Here's an article from the Federal Highway Administration that deals with the issue. You're not going to get used to this noise the way it is now, and quartz countertops won't be enough to make up for the lack of planning.

Also, you have a view of a cell tower and a electrical substation. That's not as big a deal to me, but you might want to consider how you'd deal with this type of view. I'd focus more on the road noise myself, but you should be aware that your $300,000 view isn't of magnolias or a grove. Actually, some more mature trees might help block the view, but the current trees barely extend over the meager fence. Give it a decade or so.

The Verdict
If you want all the benefits of Magnolia Grove's location with all the benefits of being in a real subdivision with a real play area and pool, then Kernan Forest is the best option. But there's only one house for sale at any given time here. And you won't get a new house, so you'll have to plan a few upgrades and fixes into the budget. I really want to continue to get some good new neighbors here, and I hope it's you. Technically, if you do buy in Magnolia Grove, you're also a close neighbor, and I hope this article helps you realize how you should proceed with your best offer. Don't let KB Home take advantage of you: once it's built, they're not really going to be there for you, so make sure it's what you want. Check out my other article about this subdivision here.

If my parents would decide to move to the area for at least part of the year, I do like the single-story floor plans and small maintenance footprint of this subdivision for them, but I'd have trouble recommending one of these homes for them without some better highway sound dampening.

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