Coffee house planned for San Marco Boulevard

Coffee house planned for San Marco Boulevard
If all goes as planned, a site previously used as a gas station and a dry cleaner at 1604 San Marco Boulevard is slated to become a new coffee shop.

After taking more than a year to “find the best thing for the community,” San Marco developer Mark Rubin has decided to build a coffee house in the old Laundry Station building he owns at 1604 San Marco Boulevard.

Although he purchased the property for $50,000 in March 2015, the old dry cleaner building has lain dormant while Rubin’s development firm, AccuBuild Companies, investigated exactly what kind of small restaurant would be suitable for the location.

At press time, Rubin had not yet filed an application with the city, but said he intends to do so in the next few weeks. Once his application is approved by the Planning Commission, the renovation will move quickly, he said, adding he expects the new coffee shop to open its doors by January 1, 2017.

Desiring to bring in a restaurant with a more “local feel,” he declined to specify the name of the coffee vendor that would take over the location other than to say it will not be Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. “We are more focused on improving the quality of life in the communities we serve. With every project we ask, ‘Is this something the community needs or is it not here right now?’” he said. Rubin toyed with the idea of putting in a juice bar but ultimately decided a coffee shop would be a good use of the property because it will provide a “low intensity” use of the space.

The iconic building, which was erected in 1941, will be preserved and any renovation he makes to the 1,344-square-foot structure will “accentuate the lines of the existing building,” Rubin said.

Although things are still in flux, he expects the new coffee shop to include indoor seating for 30 to 35 patrons and additional outdoor seating under the building’s 440-square-foot canopy. The building was formerly a gas station prior to housing a dry cleaning firm called The Laundry Station.

Parking won’t be a problem for the new coffee house. Rubin’s development firm closed on a lot Sept. 28 at 952 LaSalle Street right behind the Laundry Station building for the purpose of providing parking for the new eatery. AccuBuild purchased the additional property for $120,000, Rubin said.

“The formula for success is to acquire land so that you can park your own customers,” said Rubin. “That is the right way to do development. It’s not right to pack an area with cars unless you have a plan for what to do with them.”

Rubin said the vendor he has in mind is “innovative but with experience” and one with a “local feel.”  The new shop will offer “top-of-line” coffee, pastries, “lite fare,” and will offer free Wi-Fi.

“This will be an upscale, sophisticated environment with a French influence,” he said, noting he is not worried about competition from Bold Bean or the new French bistro-type restaurant Matthew Medure plans to build near San Marco Square.

Rubin would neither confirm nor deny his new renter will be the same vendor he plans to install in his property at the corner of Stockton and Oak Street in Riverside. He has submitted an application for the Riverside property and is seeking an exception to create a drive-thru coffee shop at 2502 Oak Street.

“The company we have in mind has a handful of stores in Florida,” he said, adding that none of the stores are currently in Jacksonville. “They just do coffee and they do it well.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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