Luxury Market Insider: Welcome To 30A

When 30A was artfully redesigned with an eye on modern architecture and responsible development, its popularity and notoriety soared. Now that the secret is out, 30A’s momentum and impact on the luxury sector are unstoppable. Compass agent Jonathan Spears is a 30A native and luxury real estate expert. Jonathan sat down with The Luxury Division to share the coastal community’s humble past, ingenious rebirth and impressive trajectory taking luxury real estate to new heights.



“If You Build It, They Will Come”



30A is the county road which runs along 28 miles of northwest Florida’s panhandle, and the longstanding tagline for this Gulf Coast region. Once comprised of sleepy fishing villages, Jonathan was born and raised in 30A, with his family’s local  roots going back multiple generations. His great-great-grandfather grew up on 30A when it was merely a dirt road. 


Jonathan describes the evolution of 30A to become a sought-after luxury destination as a classic, “If you build it, they will come scenario.” He shared that in the 1980’s, award-winning builder-developer Robert Davis founded the community of Seaside in 30A. Davis’ town planning of Seaside was revolutionary, now referred to as the birthplace of a movement in land planning called “New Urbanism.” 


Principles of New Urbanism include walkability, neighborhoods offering a mix of shops, offices, apartments and homes, sustainability, and high quality architecture. “When you come to 30A on vacation, you can park your car and never have to get back in it,” Jonathan explains. “You can walk to restaurants, boutiques, it offers such terrific quality of life and escapism.”



“The Hamptons Of The South”



The most exceptional attribute of 30A is its location, set along some of the most beautiful beachfront in the country. Its sand is made mostly of quartz crystals, which are legendary for creating the whitest color and most powdery texture. “The grains of sand actually squeak when you walk on them because they’re just soft,” Jonathan enthusiastically reports. “All that quartz was deposited here from the Appalachian Mountains and brought down the Mississippi River. If you look at the grains under a microscope, they look like diamonds.”


Much like tony Manhattanites were the driving force behind the establishment of the Hamptons as the drivable beach destination of choice, it was the residents of Greater Atlanta who built 30A into the luxury market it has become today. Explains Jonathan, “Atlanta was the first major southern city whose wealth developed and settled 30A. Major metro areas like Dallas and Nashville came next, with a real cult following.”


The Caribbean waters of 30A are warm year round and unlike other Florida cities like Miami and Naples, its communities offer a laid back respite with authentic southern charm. Jonathan smiles, “It’s friendly, approachable and nostalgic. It’s, ‘Sweet tea and y’all.’”



“Our Market Is Absolutely Popping”



Jonathan explained some of the key opportunities for those considering purchasing a home in 30A:


Driveability. 30A is more connected to the mainland United States than the rest of South Florida, ideally situated within driving distance from about one third of the county, including much of the Southwest, Southeast, Midwest and even some Mid Atlantic states. “These people can drive here in a day, if they want to skip the airport. That was especially attractive during the pandemic,” Jonathan underscores.


Diversity in architecture. Many homes in South Florida are Mediterranean in style and many of its luxury markets were developed decades ago, as far back as the Gilded Age. “Unlike much of Florida, 30A was developed beginning in the 1990’s and 2000’s. We are younger with mostly newer inventory,” states Jonathan.  “We're now solidifying 30A as a notable luxury market by investing in some of the finest architecture in the US, designed by modern architecture’s most significant players. We are very fortunate to have that cultural stamp from an aesthetic standpoint.”


Seasonality. 30A is seasonal, and considered “In Season” spring-summer-fall as the winters are cold. “South Florida is a winter market with summers really too hot to enjoy,” Jonathan explains. “Our market is absolutely popping in the summer, and our biggest week is 4th of July. School’s out and people bring their kids, friends, and family. It really is a departure with respect to the rest of the state.”



“It’s Such A Special Place”



Equally infectious as Jonathan's passion for 30A is his pride for his fellow real estate agents on the Spears Group, which he founded and has quickly grown to become Compass’ #1 medium sized team in the US. “Our approach is filled with energy and total dedication. With our very diverse backgrounds, our great group of individuals come together to complement each other and exceed the goals we have set for ourselves.”


Jonathan continues, “The Spears Group is currently representing the most expensive homes in our market. Both have asking prices of $25 million and one is already in contract. We love pushing the boundaries of value here, and growing a notable real estate team that’s not just notable to Compass but notable to the entire country. We all chose to live and work in 30A for our own personal reasons, because it’s such a special place.”



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