The recession and strong competition has not slowed the steady growth of St. James since the first residents moved in 25 years ago. That growth accelerated in 2016 with 363 new property owners joining the 6,000 acre retirement community. A total of 4,800 lots have been sold, with 1,400 properties being purchased in just the last four years, said Dan Kingsbury, vice president of sales and marketing for St. James Plantation. Last year, 150 homes were under construction at the same time, said Jim Hughes, a spokesman for the development. The surge in building has swelled the town to over 5,000 residents who now occupy 3,200 homes surrounded by 2,000 acres of permanent conservation areas. And the growth is expected to continue — the town has projected a population of 7,000 by the end of 2018.