St. Johns Village razed after serving community 30 years

St. Johns Village razed after serving community 30 years
The former home of Hugo’s Interiors was the first to go when demolition began at St. Johns Village Feb. 15.

Demolition of the retail/office center known as St. Johns Village began the morning of February 15 when Chance Partners and LandSouth Construction received the green light from the City of Jacksonville after a pre-demolition inspection of the site the day before.

Starting on the northwest portion of the building at 4000 St. Johns Avenue, where Hugo’s Interiors was formerly located, Realco Recycling’s excavators began pulling down walls and tearing off the roof of the two-story building which was built in 1987.

“This is the part I like to see, and the next part is when it’s going vertical,” said Chance Partners Founder Judd Bobilin. “This is a good thing for the community. It’s been an under-utilized retail building for a long time.”

Woodie Berlin, project manager for LandSouth, said it would take about 10 days to complete the demolition of the structure. He said Realco will recycle as much of the structural metal as possible. Prior to demolition, Berlin toured the building and found quite a bit of office furnishings, including printers and other equipment, left behind.

Eventually, all the surface asphalt will be removed as well, according to Berlin, who said that after the St. Johns Village demolition is complete, it will take about 16 months to complete the two four-story apartment buildings, two carriage houses and two townhouses.

“LandSouth is very experienced at this, they’re a very good contractor, and we’re glad that they’re partnering with us,” said Bobilin, who has witnessed between 50 and 100 demolitions in his career. “They are all a thrill, and some are different. You never know what you’re going to find until you get there.”

LandSouth began the project several months ago with pest control to ensure there were no squealing surprises.

“You never know what’s living in or under buildings,” said Bobilin, who described demolition of an urban Atlanta building 20 years ago. “We took an old night club down that had been vacant for five years, and hundreds of rodents ran out even after having pest control out there ahead of time. You have them under any building, especially ones along the water.”

Meanwhile, interior demolition of the Commander Apartments is ongoing through April. Once that is complete, renovation will take about 12 months, according to Bobilin. The plans call for a total of 228 units between the new buildings and the Commander Apartments.

“They’re making great progress on the Commander,” he said. “After all the windows and the framing come off we’ll put in a whole new window wall, all glass. The concrete balconies will be removed, cut off. They’re probably a couple weeks ahead of schedule.”

To limit traffic impact to the residential streets nearby, construction traffic is being routed from Roosevelt Boulevard to San Juan or St. Johns Avenues.

“We wanted something realistic and something the neighbors would be happy with,” Bobilin said. “I think it was a good experience for all. We’ve got a good relationship with the neighbors and with RAP (Riverside Avondale Preservation). We’re very excited to get this going, and it will be a good project for the neighborhood.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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