Real estate shift coming to historic areas

Real estate shift coming to historic areas
San Marco Promenade Groundbreaking: George Gummere, vice president, U.S. Real Estate Group, The Carlyle Group; Lori Boyer, District 5 Councilwoman; Jeff Rosen and Judd Bobilin, partners, Chance Partners, LLC; Paul Bertozzi, Live Oak Contracting president and CEO; and Walker Palmer, director of construction, Live Oak Contracting

The face of Jacksonville – especially its historic neighborhoods – will look significantly different in a few years. In the San Marco and Southside areas alone, more than $700 million in mixed-use projects – apartments, townhouses and retail – are expected to be developed. More than 3,000 families are anticipated to move into the Southbank and San Marco’s historic neighborhoods.

To accommodate the greatest number of dwellers, multi-family living and amenities, rather than single family homes, are being planned. Following the growth path of Riverside, San Marco is almost at capacity and open land for development is dwindling.

“There has been a demographic shift from the suburbs to urban, walkable neighborhoods,” said Alex Sifakis, president, JWB Real Estate Capital. JWB owns 70 lots in Springfield, 4.5 acres in Brooklyn and various properties around TIAA Bank Field.

“This shift has made the historic neighborhoods that are closer to the urban core more desirable, which, in turn, drives prices up and makes it financially feasible for developers to come in and buy up property, especially property that once had something on it and has the infrastructure needed for [infill] development,” he said.

According to Sifakis, “highest and best use” of certain properties change over time. Prior to 2008, the highest and best use of the property on which San Marco Promenade will now be built was strictly commercial as the site of the Jerry Hamm Chevrolet dealership. Now, multi-use development is the property’s highest and best use, Sifakis believes.

Infill projects underway or on the horizon that aim to revitalize previously vacant land in and around San Marco include The District – Life Well Lived and Broadstone River House on the St. Johns River, San Marco Promenade and San Marco Crossing, SoBa Apartments on the vacant lot behind Clara’s Tidbits at 1444 Home Street, and a 185-unit building proposed by Ventures Development Group on Prudential Drive adjacent to the former Aetna Building on the Southbank.

In addition, two projects will renovate existing buildings in San Marco. Block One Ventures is currently remediating asbestos in the Florida Baptist Convention building at 1230 Hendricks Ave. with plans to eventually offer 345 apartments in the seven-story building, according to Scott Hobby of Block One. “The project is currently on hold until the rent that we can charge is able to support the total development cost we anticipate,” he said. Also, Corner Lot Development plans to renovate LaSalle Townhomes, on LaSalle  Street, as 14 three-story units.

While the Southbank and San Marco are now on the infill bandwagon, Sifakis views Riverside as the trendsetter in infill development. “Back when infill development started in Riverside in 2012, people thought the bars and restaurants would ruin everything,” he said. “Since then, Riverside has at least twice had the highest property value appreciation in the country.”

Noting that property values have appreciated 60 percent in Murray Hill as well, he predicts LaVilla and Springfield will be the next most likely places for infill development.

“It is indisputable that infill development raises everyone’s property values,” Sifakis said.

Judd Bobilin speaks at the groundbreaking for San Marco Promenade Sept. 11.

Judd Bobilin speaks at the groundbreaking for
San Marco Promenade Sept. 11.

Major mixed-use projects underscore need for San Marco Publix

East of San Marco, developer Chance Partners officially broke ground on Sept. 11 for San Marco Promenade, a two-phase infill project. Once completed, its two phases – along with Chance Partners’ San Marco Crossing project – will fill the Philips Highway corridor from Atlantic Boulevard down to Service Street and west to the railroad tracks near Alexandria Oaks Park.

According to Jeff Rosen, a Chance partner, the Promenade will offer the current trend in amenities that attract potential homeowners to multi-family developments, such as a resort-style pool, fitness center, doggy spa and dog park, a bike-share program, co-working space with a coffee lounge, outdoor kitchen and fire pit, private garages and more.

“This is a transformative step on Philips Highway,” said Lori Boyer, District 5 Councilwoman, at the groundbreaking. “It brings increased density to San Marco, which is what is needed to get stores like Publix and other businesses such as shopping and restaurants to want to open in San Marco.”

The Resident reported in May 2018 that construction at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard of a 50,000-square-foot shopping center, including a 30,000-square-foot Publix and 20,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, would begin by the end of the year. In response to a request for an update, Dwaine Stevens, Publix’s media and community relations manager, Orlando region, which includes Jacksonville, said, “We remain committed to the project and look forward to serving this community.”

“The only thing we are missing in San Marco is a grocery store,” said Bryan Mickler, president, San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS). “We believe Publix is finally moving in a positive direction. If they’ll do what they did in Riverside, we’ll be happy.”

Chance Partners’ plans for the total mixed-use project include street designs all the way to Daily’s gas station and convenience store on Atlantic Boulevard. “The project’s connection to Atlantic Boulevard is very important in terms of its ability to be integrated into San Marco,” Boyer said.

The Promenade will face the northern side of the property towards San Marco and is scheduled to be open next fall for residents and completed by Spring 2020. San Marco Crossing will open in Spring 2019 on Southside Assembly of God property north of the Promenade. Southside Assembly of God sold its property to Chance Partners in March 2018 and plans to start construction in November on a new 24,000-square-foot, 450-seat sanctuary on about 5.1 acres it bought Aug. 8 for $1.45 million at 6851 Southpoint Parkway.

“We view the Promenade as part of the San Marco area,” said Rosen during the groundbreaking. “We are working with Brian Croft and Matt Hugo to create the San Marco East Association which will represent the area south of I-95 to Emerson.” Croft is president and CEO of Holmes Custom, a product personalization company formerly known as Holmes Stamp & Sign, located at 2021 St. Augustine Road, just off Philips Highway. Hugo represents Hugo’s Interiors at 3139 Philips Highway. The newly-formed association is working in concert with San Marco Preservation Society and San Marco Merchants Association.

“The development that is coming in is complementary and contributes to a vibrant community by bringing in lots of people into our shops and restaurants,” Mickler said.

While acknowledging that parking has been an ongoing issue in San Marco Square, Mickler notes that SMPS is working on new ways to address the issue. “SMPS is working with Beachside Buggies on providing service in San Marco similar to what it has been providing for the Beaches community since May 2017,” he said.

Beachside Buggies works in partnership with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to provide free service to residents. SMPS hopes that the company will transport San Marco residents to and from San Marco Square for shopping and dining to their homes. Customers will be able to request on-demand rides via the Beachside Buggies’ free mobile phone app.

“We’re also working to educate residents on how to manage public transportation better,” Mickler said. He points to the widening of San Jose Boulevard and Hendricks Avenue to add bike lanes as another option. “Eventually the bike lane will run through the middle of San Marco all the way to The District on the Southbank.”

By Karen J. Rieley
Resident Community News

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