As it turns out, St. Joe Company is beginning work on property that it owns and has had Planned Unit Development approval for the project since 2012.

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Motorists traveling U.S. Highway 98 and especially those exiting County Highway 30A's west end have noticed land being cleared at the northern point of that intersection and might have wondered what is going on.

As it turns out, St. Joe Company is beginning work on property that it owns and has had Planned Unit Development approval for the project since 2012.

The tract of land reaches as far as West Hewett Road and includes the tract on which Walmart was built, which was Phase I of the PUD known as Topsail West.

"This is an extensive PUD," said Walton County Planning Commissioner Danny Glidewell.

Plans are to construct more than 1 million square feet of retail and residential units on the site, he said. Walmart consisted of 80,000 square feet of the development.

Yet to be built are several stores, restaurants, pharmacies and banks, along with an assisted living facility and preservation area consisting of 19 acres if the original plan stays intact.

"The St. Joe Company has held entitlements on this piece of property for many years," said Dan Velazquez, vice president of asset management for St. Joe. "The work currently underway is simply intended to get the property closer to being pad ready for future development."

Under Walton County's current Land Development code, each individual project would have to go back before the Planning Commission for approval if it is projected to exceed 5,000 square feet. For now, none have gone back through planning.