Future Marina Mile development could bring new life to Ortega River

Future Marina Mile development could bring new life to Ortega River

Eight years ago, as the economic recession began in January 2008, a group of 20 businesses, including Sadler Point Marina and the former Pier 17, incorporated as the Jacksonville Marina Mile, hoping to promote a full-service experience for boaters in the area.

Situated on the Ortega River along Lake Shore Boulevard and Lakeside Drive, the Marina Mile offers several marinas, boat repair shops, yacht sales and similar marine-oriented businesses to local boaters, as well as transient boaters who come north during hurricane season to use downtime for maintenance.

During the economic downturn, Sadler Point Marina purchased the storefront property in July 2010 from the former owners of Pier 17. After Pier 17’s retail successor, Sailor Exchange, closed its storefront last year, Brooks Busey, owner of Sadler Point Marina, began to transform the 17,489-square-foot building for The Bridge, a center for retail and restaurant spaces.

“The conceptual name of the place is The Bridge,” he said. “I’ve traveled to and explored other cities that make better use of their waterfronts, and I hope to bring a bit of that back to Jacksonville’s Westside.”

The interior was gutted, cleaned up and the façade was replaced with eight glass roll-top doors. “We tore it down to the shell,” said Busey, who is waiting for tenants before applying for construction permits.

“Once we have this building established (and leased), we have plans for a new service building, new boat showroom, and parts department for the boatyard that will allow us to serve the boating community in ways we haven’t yet been able to due to limitations with our infrastructure,” he said.

Located on Lakeside Drive, the 52-year-old structure includes 7,023 square feet of rental units, and space for a 4,371-square-foot restaurant. Additionally, 2,491 square feet of amenities will include gallery, lounge and cafe space, plus a 532-square-foot covered outdoor patio, and space for an outdoor rooftop restaurant.

“The basic idea for the rest of the units (besides the restaurant) is a ‘makers’ place’ – sort of a riff on the CoRK Arts District but with an emphasis on craft over art,” said Busey.

Busey indicated he had several “nibbles” from potential restaurateurs, but has no firm proposals. “We’re also trying to work out a rooftop venue, an open-air bar,” he said.

By Kate A. Hallock,
Resident Community News

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