Prospects for San Marco’s future remain bright

Prospects for San Marco’s future remain bright

After taking time off for the recession, San Marco is seeing a steady influx of new projects from parking garages and restaurants to large-scale apartments under development in the area.

With Florida’s population expected to nearly double over the next 30 years, the future of Jacksonville is very bright and the prospects for San Marco are near the top, said developer Mark Rubin of AccuBuild Companies.

“Florida is going to explode,” Rubin said. “In the last 50 years, we’ve seen two years of negative population growth before the recession, and now we’re right back to where we were in terms of growth. Right now, taxes are low, there is lots of land available and tons of opportunity left for development.”

Rubin has a reason to be optimistic. Construction has begun on a large, multistory development on the Southbank, while smaller projects like Saucy Kitchen, Town Hall and The Hyppo are all set to open on Hendricks Avenue and San Marco Boulevard next year.

“San Marco as a whole has really outgrown the footprint that what was once ‘little ole San Marco”,” Rubin said.

Indeed, Saucy Kitchen signed a lease for the former Jersey Mike’s building at 1516 Hendricks Ave., and is expected to open in February, while Moxie Kitchen’s Tom Gray, former head chef and partner of Bistro Aix, returns to San Marco with his California-food concept, Town Hall, which will be opening in San Marco Square the beginning of next year.

With a number of new businesses sprout-ing up in the neighborhood, existing retailers will have to make some changes in order to stay afloat.

“Areas like San Marco Square are more affluent and in order for them to grow all the areas with retail will have to refresh. They say retail chases rooftops,” Rubin said.

Robert Warren, president of the real estate firm Warren & Company, agreed.

“Businesses that have been here a while are realizing they need to up their game in order to keep up with the economy and the needs of the customers,” he said.

Mexican restaurant chain La Nopalera recently went through a major facelift in order to move across the street into The San Marco Train Station. The new establishment was supposed to be called Puerta Vallarta, but the owners decided to keep the same name due to its popularity.

“This allows us to keep the old customers and attract new ones,” said Ed “Ash” Ashurian, the president of the Jacksonville-based real estate company Ashco, Inc., which owns all three buildings.

A second concept in the rear portion of the old building will occupy up to 4,000 square feet of space. Although a variety of businesses have expressed interest in the site, including a hair salon, restaurant, flower shop and furniture store, owners are still in the process of finding a tenant that meets their “past, present and future concept,” he said.

Hendricks Avenue represents one of three growth corridors along with San Marco Boulevard and King Street that runs through the bustling neighborhood. In recent years, Hendricks Avenue has seen an increase in patrons due to businesses like Aardwolf Brewing Co., V’s Pizza and, most recently, the updated La Nopalera and Bold Bean have set up shop.

In addition, gourmet popsicle company The Hyppo is opening its second Jacksonville store in the hexagon building in front of the San Marco Train Station on Hendricks Avenue. The Hyppo, which is slated to open by the end of Feb. 2017, and La Nopalera will share the 80-space parking lot behind the Panera Bread.

Larger developments like The District and East San Marco project are also picking up steam.

The East San Marco project, which will be anchored by a new Publix, is due to get started in the first quarter of 2017, Warren said. The project will include 239 apartments, a six-level parking deck for residential tenants and about 13, 500 square feet of retail space.

“The walkability that project will add to San Marco will be tremendous,” Warren said. “Some of that demand to be near Publix will bleed over onto some of the other retail-orientated buildings in San Marco, including the Square.”

The health-focused community, The District – Life Well Lived – Jacksonville, which was recently granted approval of its master guidelines by the Downtown Development Review Board, is expected to break ground this spring and summer, said Michael Munz, one of the partners in the Southbank development.

“Getting master approval was a major milestone,” Munz said. “We’ll be in the ground this spring and summer…and a year after that you’ll see buildings come out of the ground.”

“East San Marco and The District and anywhere between or around those projects is fertile ground,” Warren said. “Restaurants and hotels are a great indicator of the economy. When they’re doing well it’s a great indication the economy is on the upswing. And in general, they’re doing very well right now,” he said. 

And with improvements coming to the I-95 interchange, part of the Overland Bridge project that will improve accessibility from Philips Highway to San Marco and vice versa, that progress is only expected to increase.

New developments such as the two new Daily’s stations in San Marco have already appeared in anticipation of these changes.

“We love the San Marco area and are proud of our recent investments in the area. As a company based in Jacksonville, we will continue to look for opportunities to not only grow Daily’s but to reinvest in our neighborhoods and our city,” said Daily’s spokeswoman Andrea Kane.

The company also plans to open a Daily’s Dash location on San Jose Boulevard and Sunbeam Road, about six miles south of its new Hendricks Avenue store. Hendricks Avenue connects to San Jose Boulevard south of San Marco.

Kane said construction is set to begin and they hope to have the project completed prior to the end of 2017.

By Andrew Thurlow
Resident Community News

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