San Marco growth attracts attention, further investment

San Marco growth attracts attention, further investment
Rendering of The Hendricks at San Marco

As the long-awaiting Publix Supermarket and the East San Marco shopping center on Hendricks continue to rise in San Marco, it’s become a symbol of the great amount of growth that has been seen in the neighborhood. From the new Publix to housing projects and more retail San Marco has become a “go-to” spot for development in Jacksonville.

A groundbreaking was held on August 18 for The Hendricks at San Marco. The new 133-unit, four-story luxury apartment complex is being built next to Publix. The just over two-acre site next to South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church will include a courtyard and a connected three-level parking garage. The $32 million dollar project is believed to be the largest commercial investment near San Marco Square.

Birmingham, Alabama-based Harbert Realty Service owns the parcel, purchasing part of it from the church. Harbert President and CEO David Williams said San Marco is an area with great growth potential. “We have the luxury of being selective of where we put our capital,” he said. “We looked at San Marco as one of those unique communities within the Jacksonville area.”

Harbert has co-sponsored with locally-based Corner Lot Development Group and GMC Properties as the equity partner and property manager. The Hendricks is one of four construction projects for Live Oak Contracting in and around San Marco including The Exchange at San Marco Crossing and The Barlow.  Live Oak President and CEO Paul Bertozzi said they are excited to be able to build another project for what he says is a great community to live and work in.

“Everybody wants to be part of a great community. I’ve raised my family here and we love coming into the square and supporting the retail and just the atmosphere of the area,” he said. “When people look at Jacksonville, this is the community that people look at. It’s the small tight knit communities that people want to move into and the fact we’re able to continue to grow it. It says a lot about what Jacksonville is allowing to occur.”

Ongoing construction of the new Publix and the East Marco San Marco shopping center.
Ongoing construction of the new Publix and the East Marco San Marco shopping center.

President of the San Marco Merchants Association Scott Wohlers said projects like The Hendricks are only enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhood. “Development in San Marco we believe is phenomenal for the community. It creates more walkability, it creates more patrons to go to our merchants and then, therefore, gets more merchants to come into San Marco,” he said.     

Chance Partners has also been a key partner in six the residential developments in and around San Marco and Jacksonville including multi-family housing projects RiverVue in Avondale and San Marco Promenade. Principal Jeff Rosen, who is also a resident of San Marco, said maintaining the historical nature of the community while also welcoming new development has been a strong influence on its current growth. Rosen said the changes to the I-95 offramp at Philips Hwy, and Atlantic has also made development in that part of the neighborhood more desirable. “You have the growth of the Southbank, the employment base  between medical and office as well as the close connection to be able to jump onto the freeway and get out to the Town Center,” Rosen said.   

Rosen said he gives a lot of credit to local entrepreneurs who have seized on the possibilities in the east San Marco area around Kings and Philips Avenues.  The Bearded Pig restaurant recently moved down the road of Kings into a bigger location. Florida Cracker Kitchen moved to the area just prior to the pandemic. “The growth along Philips Hwy. and Atlantic and Kings really allow the submarkets to expand and have great access,” Rosen said.

City Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber said she has been many groundbreakings in the past year and is very exciting to see the amount of growth in San Marco, particularly how much of it, like the Hendricks, is in harmony with the community to maintain its walkability and atmosphere. “It’s an amazing place to live. We have amazing shops and restaurants and the walkability is incredible,” she said. “As that happens more people want to live here and we expand.”

All the participants of the recent growth in San Marco say working with members of the community has been the key to success. The Hendricks at San Marco is a prime example. There were delays as one group of neighbors sued to prevent its construction. Those suits were eventually dismissed and the developers worked with South Jacksonville Presbyterian to create a plan that complemented both the church and project. The church unveiled its renovation plans last month. Pastor Adam Anderson said even though he came on board late in the process, Harbert and the others have been great to work with. “It’s always nice to know that you’ve got good partners with you. It makes that learning curve a little easier,” he said. ”Not only is it good for the community but it will also be good for the church.”

Rosen said he expects to see more buildout in the coming years. He said we can expect more growth on the Southbank and into St. Nicholas as there will be fewer places available to build in San Marco.

By Kevin J. Meerschaert
Resident Community News

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