In a sign that at least D.R. Horton is counting on the Northeast Florida home building market to improve a lot, it is planning to build itself a new Northeast Florida headquarters just outside of Jacksonville, Fla.

Most builders have spent the last five years shedding themselves of headquarters and office space. This is the first example in several years to come to Builder’s notice of a home builder investing in constructing new office space for itself.

Horton is the biggest builder by closings in the greater Jacksonville market, according to Builder’s 2011 Local Leaders list, closing 485 homes, 16.4% of the local market share of 2,961 home closings last year. Lennar was second with 312 closings.

St. Johns County commissioners voted this week to pay the Fort Worth, Texas-based builder an estimated $142,218 in reimbursed impact fees and taxes paid back over a few years as an incentive to construct its new headquarters near St. Augustine, Fla.

Horton’s application for the economic incentives says that it plans to build a $2.6 million, 25,100-square-foot office building as its new regional corporate headquarters in northwest St. Johns County. The application says that the building would house Horton’s home building, mortgage, and title operations, as well as a home design center.

Horton’s regional headquarters now is in rented space in Jacksonville. The 84 employees in that office are expected to move to the new headquarters and the company suggests that it expects the headcount to grow to 270 in the next three to five years “to match pre-recession employment levels.”

Bob Porter, Horton’s local senior vice president of land, referred questions to a spokesperson who did not return calls requesting information.

Melissa S. Glasgow, director of economic development for the county, said Horton has said that it plans to have the building ready for occupancy by May 2014.

“They are going to renew their [current] lease for a couple of years while they are in the rezoning and construction process,” Glasgow said.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Jacksonville, FL, Dallas, TX.