Times-Union Building for Sale

Times-Union Building for Sale
The five-story Florida Times-Union building was put on the market in May.

Last month Morris Communications announced they are putting the Times-Union’s 1 Riverside Ave., 18.84-acre property up for sale. While no concrete plans have been announced as to whether the staff and the printing staff will stay on the property, Times-Union Media President Mark Nusbaum says he’s excited about what the future holds for the land.

Whatever the parcel’s future is, it can only serve to add to its interesting history.

The Florida Times-Union, far right, in the 1880s, on Bay Street. (Photo courtesy of floridamemory.com)

The Florida Times-Union, far right, in the 1880s, on Bay Street. (Photo courtesy of floridamemory.com)

A look to the past

The Times-Union’s administrative offices and printing plant were built in 1967. The paper’s current owners, Morris Communications, purchased the paper in 1983, from Florida Publishing Company. Yet the site’s history isn’t limited to the past 50 years.

According to the Times-Union’s own records, the site has been home to a fertilizer company (1920s), a roller skate complex and the Motor Transit Company in the 1940s, and Jacksonville Coach Company.

In the mid-1950s, the site was home to Riverside Chevrolet. 

A trio of railroad companies owned land on the site. They merged to create CSX, which owned Florida Publishing Company, which ran the paper until 1983.

Bobby Martin, former general manager of the Times-Union and consultant to Nusbaum, said he remembers when the paper was located downtown on the corner of Adams Street and Pearl Street. At the time, he was working summers at the paper.

“As I tell people, I can remember when the Times-Union wasn’t even on the river,” he said.

As company after company came and went, McCoy’s Creek slowly ambled along parallel to the railroad until it bended left at Magnolia St. These days, it makes its way under the media company’s parking garage.

A look to the future

What will happen to the history-rich parcel now that it’s up for sale? The ideas are plentiful.

NAI Hallmark Partners’ Executive Vice President and COO Dave Auchter focused on the land’s connection to the Brooklyn neighborhood around the parcel.

“The Times-Union site has tremendous value as a large, riverfront site hosting a mix of uses that complement the resurgence of Brooklyn,” Auchter said. “Perhaps equally important is its critical location as a ‘hinge’ property that can serve to best connect Brooklyn and the corridors that serve the Downtown Core.” 

Sleiman Enterprises Chief Investment Officer Jonathan Heldenbrand says the site is “a wonderful piece of property” that could “be a lot of different things.”

He said he thinks a mixed-use plan could work, but only in certain ways.

“Office and multi-family is possible, but retail will be difficult,” he said.

Heldenbrand could see a few restaurants in the future, but he doesn’t believe there will be enough people in the area – “critical mass,” as he put it – to warrant extensive retail and eateries.

“It’s a great site,” he said. “Somebody should do very well with it if we allow developers to do what they do and allow politics to stay out of the way.”

Michael Balanky, president and CEO of Chase Properties, believes that residential development may not work because of noise from the adjacent railroad tracks.

“Some people will put up with anything to live by the river, but I would see you having a lot of turnover because the novelty of the river will go away sooner than the sound of the railroad cars,” he said.

Jim Bailey, board chairman of the Downtown Investment Authority, said the site has some challenges (rail proximity included), but they can be overcome.

“An apartment or condo tower would be absolutely gorgeous,” he said. “Nowhere in the city can you look at Downtown, east to the ocean and south toward Mandarin…nowhere. It’s a beautiful location and it can change our downtown skyline.”

As for Nusbaum, he said anyone who works alongside the river should feel fortunate and that he sees good things ahead, considering the success of the apartments and retail places on the other side of Riverside Avenue.

“The development explosion going on both sides of the river is very exciting,” he said. “It’s very vibrant and very stimulating.”

By J.R. Duren
Resident Community News

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)