Sleiman Enterprises purchases Lakewood shopping center

Sleiman Enterprises purchases Lakewood shopping center
Map of the parcels along San Jose Boulevard and University Boulevard West that Sleiman Enterprises purchased from Kite Realty Group Trust of Indianapolis.

Lakewood Promenade, a popular shopping destination for San Jose and San Marco residents, is under new ownership. 

Sleiman Enterprises, a company owned by San Jose resident Toney Sleiman, announced the acquisition May 8 of the open-air shopping area that lies at the crossroads of San Jose Boulevard and University Boulevard West in Lakewood.

Sleiman’s entire real estate purchase consists of five commercial parcels totaling 200,000 square feet and is home to 47 retailers, said Michael McNaughton, chief operating officer for Sleiman Enterprises. Included among the parcels is 5612 San Jose Boulevard, home to ORH Oriental Rug House; 6012 San Jose Blvd., home to Chase Bank; 1525 University Blvd. W., home to Anytime Fitness; 1526 University Blvd. W., site of Winn-Dixie and Stein Mart, and 1607 University Blvd. W, home to Mojo Bar-B-Que.

On May 6, Sleiman closed on the property, which was previously owned by KRG Lakewood LLC, a limited liability company owned by Kite Realty Group Trust, a publicly traded business headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. As of press time, the purchase price for each parcel was not listed on the Duval County Public Property Appraiser’s website, but the collective total of the 2019 market value listed for all five parcels as owned by KRG Lakewood LLC is more than $18 million.

“To own such a renowned retail destination in one of the country’s fastest growing cities was an opportunity the company was unwilling to pass up, especially as Jacksonville’s largest privately held owner/developer of retail,” said Sleiman, CEO of Sleiman Enterprises in a press release. “There are very few retail destinations in the country that provide this magnitude of an opportunity to not only control a key retail intersection, but also enhance the current retail line-up through re-merchandising and community engagement.”

Sleiman Enterprises is one of Florida’s largest privately held real estate companies, owning and managing more than 5 million square feet of retail space across 130 retail properties in Florida and the southeast United States, according to the press release. The 65-year-old company, which was founded by Sleiman’s parents, Eli and Josephine Sleiman, specializes in owning outdoor, open-air retail centers and has properties throughout Jacksonville as well as in Florida, George, Tennessee and Virginia.

McNaughton said the Lakewood Promenade was 82% tenant occupied. Although plans are in the early stages, Sleiman Enterprises intends to make significant renovations to all five parcels, McNaughton said. “We have already met with a variety of architects. We believe the capital we will spend through a combination of physical improvements – more amenities, making the area more pedestrian friendly in the way of outside seating, and a focus on landscaping – will greatly enhance the area. We want to enhance the curb appeal of the property coupled with physical modifications to the center itself, improving and upgrading the style and condition of the property on all sides of the street through better signage, better wayfinding and better pedestrian connectivity between the parcels,” he said, adding he especially wants to extend the “dwell time” spent at the shopping center by its patrons. 

The challenge is in making the place “more interesting and compelling so that if you are a neighbor you can either walk to or arrive and not feel the need to just shop and leave so quickly,” McNaughton said. “We would like to offer uses that will extend people’s willingness to stay there for a variety of other reasons, whether it be dining, or shopping, entertainment or other things. That’s the primary driver for us.”

Originally from New York, McNaughton is the founder of M2 Real Estate Advisors, a firm that provides “innovative solutions for today’s most complex real estate challenges.” Prior to being recruited by Sleiman eight months ago, he worked on rebuilding The World Trade Center and completing the Fulton Transit Hub. 

Sleiman Enterprises’ focus will not only be on Lakewood Promenade but also Miramar Plaza, which is also owned by the company, he said. “We’ve already hired an architect, and we are working on a total renovation there as well. We want to renovate and upgrade the property in a similar fashion. We believe that both Miramar and Lakewood together serve the community. We are working with tenants that I cannot disclose at this time in how to best occupy the space,” he said. 

“In Miramar, we are working on a new vision for the property so that what we are doing will be right for tenants we believe are missing in the community. With Lakewood, we have an incredible opportunity to drive scale and enhance the entire San Jose/University Boulevard intersection,” he said, noting Sleiman’s intention is to bring in desirable businesses that are “more indicative of the neighborhood, its demographic and its economic vitality. We want to bring in tenants that will be more relevant to those people who live nearby,” he said.

Also, in the works is finding a way to partner with the City of Jacksonville improve adjacent Crabtree Park. “I met with the head of Jacksonville’s Parks Department to understand how the City of Jacksonville was programming the parks and in what ways we may be able to partner with the City to improve Crabtree’s operations and use,” he said. “That will be our first step in finding ways to work more closely with the City to enhance public space for the community. 

“We were thrilled to gain control of the property, and we expect to hold it for decades to come,” he continued. “I know the property has been bought and sold a variety of times over the past 15 years, and we hope to, once and for all, finally give it a permanent home in terms of how its being managed and in improving the property and making it a more relevant fixture in the community. We want it to be something the neighborhood can really be proud of. We want to create a compelling experience whether you live there or are just passing through.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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