Hendricks Avenue development to combine past, present and future

Hendricks Avenue development to combine past, present and future
Land has been cleared to build a glass hexagon-shaped building on the plaza at 1440 Hendricks Avenue in San Marco. Although negotiations with possible tenants are ongoing, the building will most likely house an ice cream business or a jewelry store or possibly both.

Expect a convergence of past, present and future when Ed Ashurian (who also goes by Ash) finishes the renovation of his property at 1440 Hendricks Avenue in San Marco.

The “past” portion of the project entails the renovation of the 110-year-old JEA Utility Building, which was built when South Jacksonville was a city separate from Jacksonville. The building, which also has served as a union hall, is commonly referred to as the San Marco Train Station, because of its proximity to the railroad tracks, although the building was never used for that purpose or owned by a railroad company.

Once renovations are finished to the 5,246 square-foot historic building, an “upscale casual” Mexican restaurant, Puerta Vallarta, owned by La Nopalera, will find its home there, said Ash.

“It will be an upscale restaurant in both look and cuisine,” said Ash. “It’s going to look smashingly.”

La Nopalera, which currently operates a restaurant at 1631 Hendricks, will move its operations to the new location and raise up its brand, said Lisa Thomas, who works for Ash at his real estate development company, Ashco, Inc. “They will have a completely different layout and design. It will be a new brand. They are going to the next level,” Thomas said.

The original La Nopalera will cease to exist, Thomas said, noting that its building has sported a “For Lease” sign for many months.

Puerta Vallarta restaurant will occupy a 3,000-square-foot space in the building on the first floor and part of the second.

Real estate developer Ed Ashurian, owner of Ashco, Inc.

Real estate developer Ed Ashurian, owner of Ashco, Inc.

The remaining portion in the rear of the old building will become an upscale bar and cocktail lounge, said Thomas, noting serious negotiations with a possible tenant are underway.

In the plans for the exterior of the old utility building is preservation of its historic character, said Thomas. “Mr. Ash will leave everything as it was originally but will tweak it for code, she said. “Everything we’re doing will still complement the original structure of the building.”

Four inches of insulation will be added to the already-solid building, so no sounds from the train can disturb diners, she said. Ash has also installed a new roof and restored the building’s skylights, as well as the original brick and iron work in the interior.

The future portion of the new development will consist of an octagonal building entirely made of glass, which will sit on the paver-lined patio in front of the utility building. Although by press time no tenants have signed to take over the new space, a frozen treat store has expressed serious interest, as has a jewelry store, Thomas said. A single tenant may take over the space, or potentially the building may be split in two to accommodate two businesses, she said.

“The hexagon building is the most difficult to build, but it’s going to be spectacular in visibility and signage,” Thomas said.

“It’s cool. It will be a new landmark sitting next to the old landmark of the train station,” she said.

Encompassing the present portion of the property is Panera Bread, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant that sits adjacent to the renovations, which Ashco, Inc. developed in 2013.

All three buildings will share the 80-space parking lot that lies behind Panera Bread, Thomas said. Customers can also use the 45 off-street parking spaces surrounding the property as well as a public parking garage nearby, she said.

The new development is part of the vision Ash had when he bought the property, and now it’s coming to fruition, Thomas said.

“Mr. Ash doesn’t want to compromise integrity. First and foremost for him is preserving the integrity of the neighborhood and all of his structures in the area within it.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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