Transforming Gulf Shores: The Visionary Story of ONE Club
Entrepreneur Daniel Palmier serves as the Founder and Chairman of UC Funds, a distinguished private finance firm. In addition to Mr. Palmier’s long-standing track record in commercial real estate, his philanthropic passion found expression in the ONE Foundation, a global non-profit whose mission is to assist individuals in local and global communities to attain a better quality of life. In 2016, Daniel purchased Emerald Greens, a 490-unit condo and apartment golf course community located on Gulf Shores Parkway and adjacent to Craft Farms.
The origin of ONE Club came from Daniel and UC Funds’ recognition of a growing market teeming with opportunity. This venture was not only a lucrative investment, but a chance to contribute significantly to the economic development of Gulf Shores. In addition to the business aspect of the purchase, Daniel also integrated the teaching from his grandmother of three Fs: Faith, Family, and Friends. As you will see later in this article, he also incorporated a fourth F – Fun – into his Gulf Shores ventures.
A decisive turn came when Dan invited Ellen Plunkett to head his newly formed realty company to buy and sell condos, starting with his ambitious vision into what we now know as ONE Club Gulf Shores. Ellen began her real estate career in Rhode Island, where she was first licensed, and continued working as a broker for nearly two decades in Boston and the surrounding Northeast area. Over the course of 20 years, she brokered an impressive $50 million across diverse real estate products, establishing her success in the field. Now, Ellen Plunkett is nominated as one of the top producing Brokers in Gulf Coast area.
When Ellen was first hired, the mission was to renovate the condos and apartment homes, golf course, and amenities and elevate the new brand, ONE Club, as a 5-star resort community on par with destinations found in Miami or Palm Beach, Florida, but one that was affordable in nature.
Apartment and condo renovations were just the beginning of the improvements occurring at ONE Club. Over $25 million has been invested to a series of comprehensive renovations since its opening in 2018. The golf course was completely overhauled, and a partnership was created between Troon Golf’s Craft Farms courses to offer the Best 45 holes in golf. The team then transformed a local golf grill into a stunning restaurant and sports bar called Bar 45 complemented by two new pools, a sauna, a jacuzzi, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a golf simulator, and indoor game rooms. Meanwhile, the buildings and living spaces saw new roofs, fresh paint, new appliances, cabinetry, wood plank flooring, and a complete refurbishment of the clubhouse.
Over time, the ONE Club business model changed as the ONE Club apartment rentals were so successful, Ellen and Dan purchased all the condos and converted them to renovated apartments and furnished vacation rentals. Today, ONE Club stands as the most popular lifestyle development on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, complete with a sought-after golf course and pool club that is available for public memberships. ONE Club’s success is undeniable. It’s been named the #1 Residential Community in Baldwin County for four consecutive years. Its golf and social memberships have seen phenomenal growth, and it has fostered close partnerships with the city and county for ongoing economic development.
The ambitious vision for ONE Club does not stop here. Plans for more growth are in motion with acquired contiguous land to ultimately own over 100 acres for a to-be-developed mixed-use community, including retail, apartments, hotels, and other commercial uses. The opportunity for growth and development is as strong and visionary as it was at the beginning of the project, and Plunkett and Palmier remain committed to developing business in the region.
Palmier’s ONE Foundation has also been instrumental in fostering community involvement and philanthropy. It has contributed $100s of thousands of dollars to Gulf Shores and Baldwin County, extending its reach across Alabama. An annual charity golf tournament was created to support local environmental initiatives, Alabama’s Gulf Coast Zoo, and special programs with the Gulf Shores School District and its Dolphin Foundation. ONE Foundation’s support has been crucial during times of disaster in Alabama, providing healthcare services during hurricanes, tornadoes, and significantly contributed to the sustainability for the Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gulf Shores’ attractiveness goes beyond its pleasant climate and award-winning white quartzite sand beaches. Its natural resources, including a 6,000 acres state park which is ranked #1 in America, and commitment to environmental sustainability make it an appealing destination. Cost-wise, it offers a more affordable alternative to Florida without compromising on amenities and services. The local school district is the best in the County, and the nearby Gulf Shores International Airport is set for expansion, promising increased accessibility for visitors and residents.
According to a Wall Street Journal, Baldwin County has been the fastest-growing county in the Country for a decade, with a notable percentage of the population increase coming from retirees being priced out of South Florida. But young professionals and groups between ages 30-50 have also begun to flock to the area thanks to the flexibility of a work-from-home world.
Seeing around corners, Palmier anticipated this growth even before the migration of new residents, intrigued by the natural beauty, attractive climate, and recreational options in the area. Gulf Shores recently saw the first new zoo open in the country in 25 years and extensive sporting facilities less than a quarter of a mile from ONE Club. Golf enthusiasts have the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and the area houses the largest man-made reef in the world, which is home to countless species of sea life. Every year, Gulf Shores hosts such national events as the Women’s NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship to a national ESPN viewership, the Hangout Music Festival, and several national fishing tournaments throughout the year.
The story of ONE Club is, at its heart, a tale of expertise, entrepreneurship, love of Baldwin County, and transformative leadership. The future is bright as Ellen Plunkett, alongside Team ONE, the ONE Club family, and Palmier, continues to chart a course that promises prosperity and growth. The vision of ONE Club and Gulf Shores flourishing together for decades to come is well within reach. And as this journey unfolds, there’s nothing but excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead.
Keen to learn more about ONE Club Gulf Shores and future developments? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org