Proposed storage facility approved for Murray Hill location

Proposed storage facility approved for Murray Hill location
Artist’s rendering suggesting a concept for the three-story self-storage facility planned for the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street in Murray Hill.

Not surprisingly, City of Jacksonville Zoning Administrator Sean Kelly approved an application seeking administrative deviations for a self-storage facility in Murray Hill. 

It’s not surprising the project proposed by the Silverfield Group on the site of the former Jones College at Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street would be approved because two of the three deviations requested applied to one-level, sprawling storage facilities which require a lot of acreage and many parking spaces, while the deviation for a reduction in setbacks from adjacent properties is a common request typically granted in urban settings. 

The deviations sought by Silverfield Group include a reduction of lot size from two acres to 1.2 acres; a reduction of the minimum number of off-street parking spaces from 51 to seven, and a reduction of property line setbacks from 30 feet to 4 feet (along Plymouth Street) and 8 feet (along Edgewood Avenue).

The decision came July 24, just five days after the public hearing July 19, at which dozens of Murray Hill merchants and residents spoke against the project, but was not signed until Aug. 9.

According to comments posted on social media, while most expressed disappointment, one commenter took the approach of looking for the silver lining, stating “There is the possibility that they’ll drive more commercial traffic in the community that will be good. I know it’s not ideal, but if the local businesses think about it, they might be able to draw people using those storage spaces into their businesses because they’re already there. It might even encourage some people to want to live there.”

In his decision, Kelly approved the administrative deviations with conditions. The most notable include a requirement that the self-storage facility be designed with elements consistent with the conceptual elevations submitted at the public hearing, with the Murray Hill Town Center Vision Plan, and with the Jacksonville Design Guidelines and Best Practices Handbook. The use of awnings should – not shall – be integrated into the building design, while the parapet “shall” be provided on all building sides and be high enough to completely screen all mechanical equipment.

Further, the building design will not include visible internal doors on any portion of the building other than the corner at Plymouth and Nelson streets. The facility shall not exceed 40 feet in height, internally illuminated signs are prohibited as are pylon and monument signage.

In addition, all lighting on the three-story building and its parking lot shall minimize impact on adjacent residential properties, which are to be shielded by a solid wood cedar board-on-board 8-foot-high fence prior to building. Kelly’s decision also noted reasonable efforts are to be made to preserve live oak trees and other protected trees along the northwestern property line, and landscaping will be installed along Plymouth Street. 

The self-storage facility, which does not yet have a brand name tenant, such as CubeSmart, will limit access to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., rather than the 24/7 access many other such facilities offer.

One finding in Kelly’s report noted “Grant of the deviation as conditioned will not substantially diminish property values in, nor alter the essential character of the area surrounding the site and will not substantially interfere with or injure the rights of others.”

Murray Hill resident Leslie Dawson doesn’t agree. “I live directly behind the parking lot, so I am not pleased with this. I worry about the trees, and the impact on my property values and the business district that is just beginning to thrive. Now we need to demand a zoning overlay to address future development. Can anyone tell me how we achieve this?” she stated online.

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