Nestled on Florida’s Eastern seaboard sits Crane Island – an island within an island in Nassau County on the western shore of Amelia Island, just off the Intracoastal Waterway. Known for its 185-scenic-acres and pesky sand gnats, it’s also the site of a mysterious disappearance dating back 65 years.
Today, developers have bigger plans for Crane Island, including 113 homes ranging from $1 to $3 million. But how will the mystery of Crane Island’s most famous resident affect its sales? Now offering deep-water access, direct Intracoastal Waterway lots, and marsh-view homesites, there’s a lot to unpack at Crane Island. Here, we dip into a bit of Crane Island history and give you a glimpse into its future, courtesy of Crane Island’s own John Hillman, vice president of sales and marketing for the Florida development that has everyone talking.
Crane Island History:
Crane Island’s first settlers were the Broadbents, John W. Broadbent and his daughters, Sarah Alice and Esther Ann Silva. The family bought the island nearly 135 years ago for $1,000 after arriving from England. The mother was never present, and not listed on the 1900 census, so many assume she died young. Mr. Broadbent built a house on the island and worked as a blacksmith. After his death on January 28th, 1924, Sarah Alice and her sister, Silva, became heirs to the secluded island property, yet Silva married and moved away, leaving Sarah Alice as the sole island resident.
An Unsolved Mystery:
Sarah Alice lived in the house her father built, with no gas or electricity, until her disappearance – around the same time her house mysteriously burned down in 1952. And this is where the mystery really gets good. Sarah Alice’s body was never found. She was rarely photographed. Locals called her a witch. And although many say she was a sweet lady, the legend of Miss Sarah Alice remains.
There are plenty of stories and tall tales, not just from the locals, but from her own relatives. Some are pretty convincing. Her great-nephew told WTLV First Coast News, “Me and my brother Frank was out there in the river one day in an outboard motor. We had to fuel it up so we pulled in there. I am standing on the bank while Frank puts gas in the tank. All of a sudden, bullets started flying, bark started flying, and I started flying. I got off that land,” Albert Richards said.
According to WTLV, “The property remained in the family until 1973, when Silva’s son, Joseph, and daughter-in-law sold the island-property for $50,000. The current developers of Crane Island purchased the island in 2014 for about $10 million.”
So what’s next for Crane island? The mystery hasn’t spooked its developers or potential buyers, who are already signing up for this impressive retreat. Crane Island’s own John Hillman, vice president of sales and marketing, was kind enough to give us the scoop and answer our most burning questions about the island’s future.
Q&A With John Hillman, Vice President Of Sales & Marketing, Crane Island:
SS – How many sites have already sold and how many are currently available?
JH – Within six months of selling, 12 lots have been sold and there are 47 lots available in Phase 1. Conceived at a lower density than zoning permits, the low-impact, sustainable community will include a total of 113 luxury homes when complete. Residents will begin moving into their Crane Island homes in Spring 2019.
SS – Are there any properties already built for purchase?
JH – We are breaking ground on our first home this week. Eight more homes will follow during the next three to four months.
SS – Any models to tour or special sales events to mention?
JH – Six models will be available in Summer 2019.
SS – What are the top selling points/features/amenities in the community?
JH – The master plan for Crane Island’s 185 maritime acres was shaped by the island’s natural environment. We took great care in maximizing waterfront views and preserving many of the 100-year-old oak trees. Crane Island also incorporates innovative water and energy conservation techniques such as bioswales to minimize its footprint on the environment.
Centered around Alice Park, a community greenspace that stretches from coast to coast and is anchored by an Infinity pool deck and clubhouse known as The River House, right-sized home lots are strategically designed for optimal breezes and watching the sun rise and set over the water. Lowcountry architecture inspired by the Fernandina Beach Historic District informs the unique design of Crane Island, which is curated by a world-class architectural guild. Historical Concepts, Beau Clowney Architects and T.S. Adams Studio are among the talented lineup.
Crane Island is a private island with modern comforts and tomorrow’s technology, including Gigabit high-speed internet service with fiber in homes. When residents want to unplug, the mix of luxe lifestyle amenities creates a base camp for exploring and enjoying the coastal lifestyle. Amenities include a bird sanctuary, walking and biking paths, day docks with deep water slips on the Intracoastal Waterway and beach access. Residents can also elect to join the Amelia Island Club, where they can play two golf courses and 23 clay tennis courts, dine at world-class restaurants, work out at two fitness facilities and relax at the nearby Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s beach club.
Outside the gated community, residents can also enjoy the City of Fernandina National Historic District, which spans 50 blocks of specialty shops, boutiques, historic sites and restaurants. And, located just 2 miles away (or a breezy 15-minute ride via bike or golf cart), the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport makes escaping to Crane Island even easier.
Overall, this master planned community offers an unparalleled living experience on the First Coast – one that celebrates the Lowcountry’s natural beauty with timeless design, honors the Southern tradition of porch living and understands how paying attention to these details can foster community between neighbors. Crane Island’s plan ensures that the trees that have naturally thrived for hundreds of years can now endure for hundreds more—along with new generations to appreciate them.
SS – Who are these homes perfect for?
JH – Envisioned by a curated guild of the Southeast’s leading architects and home builders, the luxury homes on Crane Island are designed for residents who are both environmentally and design savvy, as well as enjoy a sense of adventure and being part of an authentic community. Whether it’s teaching your granddaughter how to drop a fishing line or riding your bike home from a day at the beach, the endless choices at Crane Island offer even more reasons for the kids and grandkids to come and play.
SS – Anything else you would like potential buyers to know?
JH –The pièce de résistance of Crane Island is the porches, which make up approximately 20 to 25 percent of each home’s square footage. These outdoor living rooms bridge together our residents’ public and private realms, and are one of the signature elements in our master plan for the connected, island hamlet community. We believe the porch is where our residents start their days before heading on an adventure by boat, bike, golf cart, paddle board, plane or foot. And, it’s where they end their days surrounded by family, friends and the natural beauty of the island.
From our research, one thing is clear, Crane Island is well on its way to becoming a premier destination for luxury living along the Florida coast.