Site plan, check. PUD, check.

It’s full steam ahead for former San Marco Train Station

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

After four years of hard negotiating with the City of Jacksonville, the JEA and area residents and businesses over parking and other requirements, property developer Ed Ash is ready to move. On the San Marco Train Station project, that is.
“This is one of the first shopping centers to be developed in Jacksonville coming out of the recession,” Ash said in an exclusive interview with The Resident. “And we believe it will be completed in 180 days or less.”

After purchasing about five or six years ago just prior to the economic recession, Ashco Inc. had worked for four years to get the property at 1440 Hendricks Avenue to where it is now, ready for development of the former train station and two more buildings. “We were fortunate to get the issues resolved within four years,” noted Ash. Part of the agreement with the city was to repave the parking lot for the San Marco Preservation Society office, which sits on the southeast corner of the property.
“The City is a tough negotiator. They demanded a lot, but we met the demands,” said the developer. “[District 5 Councilwoman] Lori Boyer is a very capable person; it was a pleasure working with her and city officials.”

Anchor tenant of the two-story, 10,000 square foot historic building will be Panera Bread Company, which will occupy approximately 4,000 sq. ft. in a 30-year lease. Boost Mobile has also signed on and there’s talk of an ice cream shop – possibly a national brand – for 1,200 sq. ft. in a stand-alone building.
Ed Ash and wife Roya are planning a European-style piazza for the vast area in front of the station facing Hendricks Avenue. “It will provide restaurant seating, trees, umbrellas and plants,” said Roya. “We went to Italy for an architectural show to get ideas for the station.”

The couple, who live in San Marco, believes the renovation and re-purposing of the station will be a pilot project that will make San Marco somewhat different. They are working with Eric Lyke, an award-winning landscape architect, and Doug Skiles, EnVision Design + Engineering, to ensure a serene atmosphere.

All the restaurant and retail shops will face Hendricks Avenue and there are no restrictions on the tenants for modifications, but as Ash noted, “We like the look of the building and want to preserve it. We will work to keep the essence of the historic station.” Roya added, “We’re taking time to develop it properly. We want it to be a star in this area.”
At least one or two retailers come looking each day, according to Ash, but they are going to be a little picky about their tenants: “We’re looking for someone who is financially stable.”

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