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  • Writer's picturemartinliptrot

30A is Changing - Bigger, Bolder, Brasher … Better?

Earlier this week, a remarkable feat occurred in #Seagrove on #30A which nicely encapsulated the changing face of #SouthWalton and our beach communities.

The home pictured here, a brick, single-story home from the mid-century, had stood on the top of the dunes in Seagrove from the days when #30A was a sandy track and only the fishing hamlets of #Seagrove and #Grayton populated this stretch of Gulf coast. While a 'Seagrove Original' beach cottage with un-interrupted views of the #GulfofMexico once represented the perfect #30Adreamhomes, it isn't what the current market demands or supports.

The new owners realised the monetary value of their new purchase was in the land and location not the bricks and shingles of the existing home and, in terms of dollars and cents, the history captured within its walls was worthless.

Happily, and wondrously, rather than knock it down they sold it lock, stock and two smoking barrels to someone who loaded it up in one complete piece on the back of a truck and hauled it off down the beach. Hopefully, the memories and good times will have stayed intact during transit as much as the classic marbled floors and original 1950s window frames.

Locals will know, other than the relocating of the original home, this is nothing new. While this property's neighbors to the west are still two cinderblock beach cottages, to the east, where the Seagrove Motel once stood, are four new homes with a combined value in excess of $50m and enough room to sleep 100 happy renters and vacationers.

Welcome to the future of Seagrove and 30A.

We've lived round the corner from these new homes for nearly 20 years, but by no means are we the 'Seagrove Originals' - real old-timers measure their tenure in generations not years. And while these new homes are a very visible display of prosperity and wealth, this is nothing new to these shores - there has been money along this beach for generations, its just been more discreet.

For me, these new homes and properties are welcome in our community. They are adding greatly to our county tax take, providing construction, maintenance and cleaning jobs and ensure land values and property prices along 30A continue to edge upwards for all. While many may argue we should wrap 30A in aspic, 'bubble-wrap' it from the ravages of modernity and slow the clock of progress - we know this isn't realistic. 30A is changing and we have to swim with the current not against it.

The profile of the visitor to our beaches is also changing fast. They are younger, from further afield, travelling in bigger parties and coming for shorter stays, but more frequently. Wealthy visitors from the traditional 30A catchments of Atlanta, Dallas, Montgomery and New Orleans are now being joined by new money from Louisville, Nashville, St Louis, Houston and Chicago. New flights to our region's airports show the continued expanding allure of our beaches.

The change isn't occurring over night, but it is happening. These new properties are simply an indication of how developers and investors are responding to this shifting visitor profile. There is a lesson here for real estate agents, rental property managers and business owners.

Today, visitors want delivery services, they will pay for the convenience of valet parking, they want beach services and bonfires, rental bikes, boards and golf carts on demand and when the whim takes them. They still love eating out but want more eclectic restaurants and dining options and they want a way to enjoy their vacation in an #Instagram moment - for #Millennials - the largest demographic group in the USA - instagramability is the number one reason to choose a #Vacation destination!

As the property on offer along our beaches continues to expand, so must the entire vacation experience. Business owners need to gaze into the future and understand what visitors today and tomorrow want in return for the substantial investment a vacation on our shores still commands. They need to think about how they are communicating with customers and clients, how they are using social media channels to tell their story and increasingly how pictures and videos do the work of a thousand words.

Nothing stands still on 30A. Not even the houses.

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