Starting as a "Company Town"
A Journey into Palm Coast
When speaking if company towns, most folks have images of minimalist mining towns and camps in places like Montana, West Virginia, Quebec or Alberta.
One does not think of tropical resort light settings such as Palm Coast.
In fact, it is not far off the ark to say that Palm Coast got its start as company town of sorts.
Clearly, the area can not be characterized as a company town relying on copper, coal or asbestos as those counterparts mentioned above.
However, the community that some 80,000 now call home can be traced to the actions and ownership of one company - ITT.
Palm Coast was conceived in 1969 when ITT Corporation bought several thousand acres of land in Flagler County to develop a massive Planned Unit Development (PUD) community.
Before 1969, land that eventually became the City of Palm Coast was considered by some as "a big pine-covered swamp." But when the corporate eyes of ITT/Levitt looked upon the virtually uninhabited land, they saw 22,000 acres of golf courses, marinas, oceanfront motels, scenic drives, and house lots awaiting the arrival of sun-seeking "pioneers." Marketing strategies targeting urban residents in the North and Midwest offered slices of land cut out of miles of forests, and soon a 500-mile infrastructure of roads, utilities, and sewer lines bound Palm Coast to a future that included becoming the largest planned unit development in Florida history.
So it was ITT, which began as an international communications firm in the 1930s, that provided the financial muscle by purchasing large tracts of land and constructing the infrastructure. Grand opening of Palm Coast occurred on October 29, 1970. The first public building, a Welcome Center, served as the hub for sales activities, and a 64-foot-high observation tower provided panoramic views of surrounding woods, lakes, streams, Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. It presided over a golf course, model homes, canals, and early home construction. Originally, visitors came from A1A to a small dock on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway and proceeded by boat to the Welcome Center on the main canal. Prospective buyers were taken by elevator to the top of the tower.
Earliest "pioneers" occupied their homes in January 1972. From their start in 1969 until ITT withdrew in 1995, the corporation provided most of the services and leadership in Palm Coast. They had planned, built and maintained a model environmental community. In a unique private/government relationship, ITT financed Palm Coast's most necessary improvements. The interchange at I-95 opened in 1991 and, in 1988 the Hammock Dunes bridge opened.
As ITT withdrew from Palm Coast, the process of incorporation began, and on September 21, 1999, one week after Hurricane Floyd postponed the vote, 65.6 percent of the nearly 12,000 voters casting ballots opted to turn the unincorporated population center of Flagler County into a city. On December 31, 1999, residents of Palm Coast celebrated the end of a millennium and the beginning of their new city.
Historical Source and Photo Credits: Hammock Dunes, City of Palm Coast, Palm Coast (FL) (Images of America) by Arthur E. Dycke (2003, Arcadia Publishing)