The year was 1998 and 17 years had passed since the founding of
The former unremarkable County Road 30A was getting noticed, not only by the rest of the world, but also by the mighty St. Joe Company.
At that time, St. Joe was the largest land owner in the state of
However, it had taken the building of the walkable New Urbanist town of
Jim Rester was working for Sandestin when he accepted the position with St. Joe as vice president of its Northwest region. He would work under Peter Rummell, a former president at Walt Disney who was behind its Celebration community. Rester and Rummell had worked together at
Rester was to oversee development of St. Joe properties in Gulf, Bay, and Walton counties. The hottest of those was the WaterColor development in
WaterColor was still in the planning stages when Rester came onboard, and had not yet been launched, or even named.
"St. Joe owned a lot of land, but the best of it was in
Even though St. Joe owned so much more land than the 80 acres Seaside occupied and the giant corporation had so many more resources to tap, people thought it foolish to attempt to improve on Seaside.
Rester recalls that it took three days to name the development.
"All the corporate folks were here and seated around a table," said Rester. "We wanted a name that reflected the area and the beautiful color of the water. On the third day, Chick Grant, vice president of design and development, referred to the colors on a watercolor print he had seen. It was then that everyone agreed on the name WaterColor."
The property consisted of 500 acres and surrounded
Rester was only with St. Joe for 3.5 years, from 1998-2001, but they were the formative years of molding the resort, naming it, and determining what it would look like.
"Timing is everything. WaterColor came to the market at right time," he said. "People used to think of this as the redneck
Success has a lot of authors, Rester added.
The WaterColor Beach Club was designed by Chick Grant, and local architect Tom Christ, who designed The Boat House.
"There were a lot of design people and all very experienced. It took an enormous effort. Chick had a lot of influence and Rummell had excellent taste," said Rester.
As for his own influence, the former VP's hand can be seen at the 60-room WaterColor Inn.
"They proposed a 155-room hotel. But we didn't have a lot of beach front and they wanted to take it all for the hotel. So, we put the pool over the hotel and I was able to get the hotel reduced to 60 rooms, which left some beachfront for homes," said Rester.
Today, WaterColor is almost completely built out at 1,000 homes.
"St. Joe had a lot of land. They tried to replicate the success of WaterColor in