Developers plan “less intense” Jackson Square development

Developers plan “less intense” Jackson Square development
Site plan for the Jackson Square development offered by Chance Partners

Judd Bobilin of Orlando and Jeff Rosen of San Jose, principals of Chance Partners, have a motto for their development firm: “Changing the World…One Building at a Time.”

Having developed successful infill projects in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and in Tallahassee, this year the duo has turned its sights toward two Jacksonville developments – the repurposing of St. Johns Village and the Commander Apartments near the Shoppes of Avondale, which is currently under construction, and now Jackson Square, the formerly contested planned unit development in San Marco at 2600 Philips Highway, just south of Interstate 95.

Chance Partners has a contract with Cypress Real Estate Advisors of Austin, Texas, owner of Jackson Square, to purchase the blighted 17.3-acre property. They expect to close on the property in mid-May, said Bobilin.

Once the site of a Jerry Hamm Chevrolet car dealership, Jackson Square had been zoned as a PUD and FirstStar Developer Steve Cissel had planned a “Transit Oriented Development (TOD),” the largest redevelopment project on the boards in the San Marco district before the 2008 recession hit and ruined his lofty plans.

What Bobilin and Rosen have planned is considerably smaller than the “transit-oriented” community Cissel envisioned and the city had approved, which consisted of 900 multi-family rental units and 350,000 square feet of commercial space. “We are planning to develop in accordance with the PUD, but with a lower density,” said Rosen. “We are not planning to do a transit-oriented development. That was a much more intense project.”

As the PUD has already been approved by the city, the developers are seeking a minor modification from the Planning Commission in June. The modification seeks to swap the locations of Phase 1 and Phase 2. Bobilin indicated they will change the name of the development after construction begins, and will apply for a separate address for Phase 2.

They have already discussed the project with the San Marco Preservation Society, Jacksonville City Council President Lori Boyer, and the city’s planning department, said Bobilin, adding that he and Rosen intend to speak about the project to the San Marco community at a future SMPS-sponsored town hall meeting.

“So far, all three parties have been supportive of our plan,” Bobilin said. “If everything goes well at the community meeting and the Planning Commission meeting, we anticipate a start of construction in the beginning of 2018 with expected delivery 16 months afterwards in the summer of 2019.”

The partners plan to develop the area in two phases. Phase I will cover slightly more than eight acres on the north end of the property, he said.

Phase 1 will include 286 apartments – one, two and three bedrooms – within three four-story residential buildings. A single one-story 10,000-square-foot retail building will also front Philips Highway.

The residential buildings will offer a pool, clubhouse, and fitness center – full amenities consistent with a new Class A apartment building, said Rosen. Surface parking will surround the buildings, providing an adequate number of spaces for all the residents, he said.

“We believe we can bring the correct amount of density to the area,” Bobilin said. “Our project should help be a catalyst for this whole eastern portion of San Marco.”

“We’re excited that we’re closer into town than the bulk of the product that is out near the Town Center and JTB (Butler Boulevard),” Rosen said.

Bobilin agreed. “We’re both infill developers, so we’re always looking for in-town opportunities,” he continued. “We’ve joked that if you gave us a suburban property, we would probably design it as an infill. That’s our strong desire. We believe in in-town neighborhoods,” he said. “Similar to St. Johns Village and the Commander, which has great access to the Shoppes of Avondale, Jackson Square has great access to the San Marco area and San Marco Square. With the I-95 access that is being completed this year, it will have great access to the highway system as well.”

Although Cissel had plans to make Jackson Square into a community oriented around public transportation systems so that cars could be unnecessary, Chance Partners has no such plan. “We are firm believers in walkability, and we try to incorporate in all our projects our own internal bike-share program for our residents,” said Bobilin. “We purchase bikes for the property and allow our residents the ability to take a bike and use it to go down to San Marco Square or wherever they want to go. It’s a unique thing we do.”

With Philips Highway as the primary access to development, and a secondary access from Mitchell Place, the developers said they expect Jackson Square residents traveling to San Marco Square to utilize a new sidewalk along Philips Highway, which is being built as part of the Overland Expressway project, to head toward Atlantic Boulevard and San Marco Square, said Rosen.

“The initial phase will not connect roadways onto River Oaks,” he said.

The developers have not begun to envision what Phase 2 will be, and until Phase 1 is complete they said it will remain as it is now. “We may put up a fence and trees and landscaping as it abuts the Phase 1 property,” said Bobilin.

Chance Partners has engaged Kimley-Horn as Jackson Square’s engineering firm. They are also working with Buck Pittman, a professional landscape architect in Jacksonville.

“We think we are adding something that is complementary to what has been going on in Jacksonville for several years,” said Rosen. “We’re very bullish on Jacksonville and its in-town neighborhoods.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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