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Liberty Sells Office, Industrial, Flex Properties Across States

15 Nov 2013, 11:02 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Liberty Property Trust has sold office properties located in Maryland, Southern New Jersey and the Fort Washington submarket of Philadelphia.

Jacksonville is the only market Liberty is exiting entirely, and the properties sold also include some flex properties in Minnesota. In total, the sale includes 4 million square feet of office space, 2.3 million square feet of flex properties and 274,000 square feet of industrial properties. The sales are expected to close progressively, starting in late December. The name of the buyer has not been made public

William P. Hankowsky, CEO of Liberty, says the idea behind the transaction is to concentrate the company’s office portfolio in fewer markets and to extend it portfolio allocation to industrial real estate. “We expect these steps to enhance our ability to exploit our expertise in creating and managing high-quality office environments in which we can create significant future value,” he said in a statement for the press.

Liberty is a $7.3 billion REIT founded in 1972 that develops, acquires, leases and manages office and industrial properties. At the end of Q2, the firm enjoyed the ownership of 80.6 million square feet of developed space in more than 21 markets throughout U.S. and the United Kingdom.

The Jacksonville portfolio sold includes numerous Class A office and Class B industrial properties such as Butler Plaza and Liberty Business Park. Most of the properties are located in the Southside near the intersection of J. Turner Butler Boulevard and Interstate 95, but the firm also owns about 120 acres along Imeson Road, West Jacksonville.

Photo credits: Liberty Property Trust

Fuqua and Regency Plans Shopping Center on $3M Site it Purchased

1 Nov 2013, 6:54 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Fuqua Development and Regency Centers Corp. acquired a downtown plot of about two acres from Pope & Land Enterprise Inc. of Atlanta for $3.085 million. The former landlord acquired the Brooklyn site located at the intersection of Riverside Avenue and Jackson Street from a bank in late 2011. The partnership intends to establish a grocer-anchored shopping center on the still-empty parcel, Jacksonville Business Journal reports.

The developers’ vision is in fact an urban mixed-use project comprised of 300 luxury multi-family units and 60,000 square feet of space including multiple restaurants and other retail venues as well as a specialty grocery store. Potential partners were not specified. Completion can be expected in spring 2014.

The newspaper announced one year ago that The Fresh Market Inc. was considering expansion to the location the partnership just bought. Fuqua’s intention to build a retail center was already public, though Fresh Market representatives still keep mum about the details. Developers also decline comment on possible cooperation with the firm.

The grocer’s expansion sounds reasonable by every indication, considering that the site in question is surrounded by a population of over 75,000 with the average household income of $48,579, and has a daily average traffic count of 18,000 according to the developer’s estimates. Right next to the property, Hallmark Partners Inc.’s residential and retail project is under construction and Lincoln Property Co. has proposed an apartment complex in the neighborhood as well. The Fresh Market operates more than 100 stores in over 20 states across the nation and they are not new to the Jacksonville market either, already having two locations in the city and one in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Photo credits: Fuqua Development

San Marco Neighbors Welcome $50M Publix Mixed-Use Development

24 Oct 2013, 9:50 pm

 By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Last Thursday San Marco residents met with developers Whitehall Realty LP, Regency Centers Corp. and St. Joe Co. in a town hall meeting where updated plans for the East San Marco Publix development were presented to the public. According to Jacksonville Business Journal, most of the residents received the plans for the mixed-use concept positively, with potentially increased traffic in the neighborhoods being their largest concern.

In contrast to the initial plans, the complex now calls for less retail space and more residential units. The project embraces a 30,000 square-foot Publix store and 14,000 square feet of small-shop retail space, 240 apartments and 35 townhomes. Most of the apartments will be studios and one-bedrooms averaging 900 square feet. The original proposal included 125 condominiums and 27,000 square feet of small-shop space. The building will be built in Mediterranean style with a blend of glass, stucco and stone and will be located at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard, circling the whole block, with 570 parking spaces in the middle.

The joint venture for the project came into existence between St. Joe and Regency in 2006 and Whitehall joined the team just a few weeks ago. As reported by jacksonville.com, the original developers still own the property, but Whitehall Realty Partners will purchase and build the project. Regency Centers will purchase and complete the retail, while Whitehall handles the residential.

The development team still needs to file requests with the city for a land-use change. John Carey, managing partner of Whitehall, is hoping to break ground next May or June. Construction would require 18 months and cost about $55 million.

Photo credits: Google Maps


Jacksonville Landing Redevelopment Plan Includes Adding Residential Units

11 Oct 2013, 9:58 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Toney Sleiman, president and CEO of Sleiman Enterprises, recently announced plans to add residential units to the Landing. The facility will be renovated.

A consultant is analyzing the property to determine a viable number of units. A parking study was also commissioned, and its results should be available this month, according to the Jax Daily Record.

Built in 1987 by The Rouse Company as a festival marketplace, the 125,000 square foot center was purchased by Sleiman Enterprises, North Florida’s first family to operate in the real estate industry and one of Florida’s largest privately held real estate companies, for $5.1 million in 2003. The $250 million redevelopment plan would have expanded the existing space and added a parking garage, boutique hotel, office building and condominiums. Since then, the Landing functioned as a dining and entertainment destination for the area.

In September, Sleiman stated that the ownership was planning a renovation, but originally, the plan called for only repainting and improving the lighting system, Jacksonville Business Journal reported. After brainstorming with Alex Coley and Mike Balanky, superiors of the groups that developed 220 Riverside and the San Marco Place condominium tower, Coley recently said that adding residential to the Landing would be a viable strategy.

Sleiman said costs have not yet been determined, and that he will request for city incentives. After seeing the plan, Council member Bill Bishop gave assurances that he is pleased with the plan. Urban core advocate Peter Rummell said that the property plays a key role in Downtown revitalization. Chances are, the project may be supported by the city.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

JU Starts Work on New $8M College of Health Sciences Building

10 Jul 2013, 9:58 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

As part of Jacksonville University’s $85 million ASPIRE campaign, work will soon start on the College of Health Sciences’ new building, meant to address the growing needs of the school.

To be located at 2800 University Blvd., in the plaza between Lazzara Health Sciences Center and the Davis College of Business, the two-story 30,000-square-foot building will cost $8 million. The facility will feature dedicated and multi-purpose classroom equipped with advanced technology, event space and meeting rooms, faculty and staff offices, multidisciplinary simulation learning center, advanced speech and computer laboratories. The plan also calls for interior green space and open, clerestory lighting to bring in natural daylight, as well as wireless technology throughout.

Site preparation has already begun, and the university has chosen Jacksonville-based Perry-McCall to build the new facility. With Dasher Hurst Architects of Jacksonville in charge of design, the Marine Science Research Institute is scheduled for completion July 2014.

A centerpiece of JU’s $85 million ASPIRE comprehensive campaign, the new two-story building is part of a $20-million phased plan to meet growing demand by expanding the College of Health Science’s facilities, programs, faculty and partnerships with the medical community.

About 1,600 students are enrolled in the College of Health Sciences. With Nursing and Exercise Science program increases, and the addition of programs in Speech-Language Pathology, Health Executive Leadership, Occupational Therapy and Health Information Management, enrollment is projected to rise as much as 40 percent, to about 2,300, students by 2016.

Image courtesy of Jacksonville University

Microsoft to Create its First Retail Store in St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville

28 Jun 2013, 9:03 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Rumors that Microsoft will build its first Jacksonville-area retail store have just been confirmed.

The software giant recently hired JTM Construction—a subsidiary of the Fisher Companies, a privately held construction services company primarily active in the western United States—to build a store at St. Johns Town Center.

St. Johns Town Center is an outdoor lifestyle mall that houses approximately 150 stores, among which Dillard’s, Apple, Pottery Barn and Ann Taylor, as well as shops in the palm-lined streets of the Luxury Collection such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Mayors. Conveniently located in Jacksonville’s Southside neighborhood, St. Johns Town Center is easily accessible to I-95, I-295 and J. Turner Butler Boulevard and between Downtown and the beaches serving Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Amelia Island and South Georgia.

At the beginning of May, the Florida Times-Union first reported that Microsoft had filed an application with the city to build a store at that location, calling for a $400,000 investment in renovating the space previously occupied by Puma.

The 4,975-square-foot space—located right next to Urban Outfitters—has been standing vacant for several months; the store’s location at 4791 River City Drive will be placing it merely two blocks from the Apple store.

Retail stores are a rather new concept for the Seattle-based software giant that opened its first store in 2009. The state of Florida is currently home to four other Microsoft stores, with the Orlando one— opened in August 2013—being the first, followed by three more in Miami and Tampa.

Image via Simon Malls

Centerline Funds $6.7M Fannie Mae Loan for Jacksonville M-F Property

24 May 2013, 9:46 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The 136-unit Pinewood Pointe Apartments has recently been refinanced by a $6.75 million Fannie Mae fixed-rate, affordable loan provided by Centerline Capital Group.

The fixed-rate loan has a 12-year term, 9.5-year lockout, and a 30-year amortizing schedule. The borrower is SP Pinewood LP, a Florida limited partnership. The proceeds from the loan will be used to refinance existing tax-exempt bonds, which were also financed by Centerline, which is a subsidiary of Centerline Holding Co.

The affordable multifamily property, originally built in 1991, consists of 24 two-story apartment buildings and a clubhouse, with 48 units being garden style and the other 88 townhouse style apartments. Amenities include a clubhouse/leasing office with business center, common laundry room, a community pool, two children’s playgrounds, car wash area and picnic areas. Pinewood Pointe Apartments was acquired and renovated in 2007 with tax-exempt bonds issued by Florida Housing Finance Corp. and equity from the sale of 4 percent low income housing tax credits.

“The property is well-located in a desirable residential neighborhood with high=quality development surrounding the property and easy access to major employers, supportive commercial uses and recreational amenities,” noted Jim Gillespie, managing director at Centerline. “The borrower is a repeat Centerline client that is a very experienced multifamily developer, owner and manager. At Centerline, we continuously look to identify affordable housing opportunities that are attractive to our investors and also make a significant impact on the communities where they exist.”

Image via www.pinewoodpointe.com

Public-Private Partnership to Add ‘Central Park’ to Brooklyn, Jacksonville Development

10 May 2013, 7:09 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

A public-private partnership is looking to bring a signature park to historic Brooklyn. Mayor Alvin Brown and Jen Jones—executive director of Jacksonville Unity Plaza Inc.—accepted the deed to the premiere ‘central park’ for Jacksonville at the construction site of 220 Riverside, a mixed-use development aiming to revive Brooklyn.

Jacksonville Unity Plaza Inc., the non-profit that will manage Unity Plaza, promises to deliver a new entertainment hub that will host events year round. Developers have projected a plaza with a fountain, a lake and a staging area flanked by an amphitheater able to accommodate 2,000.

The Unity Plaza concept is the vision of Alex Coley, principal and co-founder of Hallmark Partners, currently developing the adjacent 220 Riverside mixed-use project. The public-private partnership is part of a redevelopment agreement that obligates the private developers of 220 Riverside to donate the Unity Plaza property, establish the 501(c)(3) non-profit and fund the basic operations of the non-profit entity that will manage the property as a community ‘central park.’

“We have said all along that the 220 Riverside is actually a community service project disguised as a real estate deal,” said Coley, who presented the deed to the Mayor and Jones. “Unity Plaza will host and nurture the diversity and spirit of our community while revitalizing downtown and fulfilling our mission of place-making.”

Unity Plaza is the cornerstone in the current redevelopment of Jacksonville’s Brooklyn neighborhood. It is located at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street, adjacent to the 220 Riverside project featuring 294 market rate apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail. The Unity Plaza project development team is led by Hallmark Partners Inc., and Jacksonville-based Studio 9 Architecture is leading the park’s design. Programming in development includes seasonal events, concerts, educational programming and unique activities that utilize the nearby St. Johns River.

Image courtesy of Hallmark Partners

Improving Jacksonville Industrial Market Attracts 1M SF Distribution Center

22 Apr 2013, 3:44 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The local commercial real estate community is talking about a mystery firm’s plans to develop a one million-square-foot distribution/warehouse center in the St. Johns Water Management District, ever since the Jacksonville Business Journal first reported on the project.

According to the publication, a permit application has been filed at the beginning of the month for two centers, one encompassing 600,000 square feet, and the other 400,000. The two would rise on a 102-acre site located at the intersection of Normandy Boulevard and 103rd Street and runs along Alcoy Road.

The City of Jacksonville, the landowner, applied for the permits on behalf of Hillwood Investment Properties. There have been rumors that FedEx Ground Shipping or Amazon.com could be the anchor tenants of the proposed facility, but no official announcements have been made yet.

Industrial market CBRE Research has revealed that the Jacksonville industrial market experienced a great start to the year, with positive indicators of recovery. The first quarter 2013 closed with a vacancy rate of 10.8 percent. The overall vacancy rate is the lowest it’s been since 2009. In 2007, at the market’s height, there were more than 4.5 million square feet of industrial projects underway. Very few developments have been delivered to the market since the recession, mostly due to high vacancy rates and economic uncertainty.

Currently, in addition to the warehouse/distribution center, there are 22 buildings proposed in the Northside, Westside and Southside submarkets. These developments could add up to 4.3 million square feet of space to the market. Yet developers seem to be awaiting a further decline in vacancy rates to break ground on the projects, as there is currently no construction underway in the Jacksonville industrial market.

Chart courtesy of CBRE


Nordstrom Adds 35K SF Rack Store to Local Retail Options in Jacksonville

5 Apr 2013, 9:45 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

After announcing last year that it will be opening a 124,000-square-foot, two-level, full-line store at St. Johns Town Center, Nordstrom is now planning a 35,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack store at The Markets at Town Center in Jacksonville. The opening date has been set for fall 2013.

The Markets at Town Center is a retail, dining, and entertainment center conveniently located at Gate Parkway and Town Center Parkway just off I-295/J. Turner Butler Boulevard. The location will place the new Nordstrom Rack across from St. Johns Town Center where the new Nordstrom full-line store will open in 2014. The new Rack store will be part of the final phase of the center and will be joining a vibrant business, retail and restaurant scene. Nearby stores include REI, Ulta, Best Buy, West Marine, Brio, Black Finn, Whiskey River, Suite and a variety of boutiques.

“We could not be more excited to be welcoming Nordstrom as our neighbor and Nordstrom Rack to our incredible array of one of a kind merchants and restaurateurs at The Markets at Town Center,” said Steven Cadranel, president of Arris Realty Partners.  “Our vision and success for attracting the most desired retailers and creating a truly unique shopping and dining experience for all of northeast Florida continues to build on itself.”

Nordstrom currently operates nine full-line stores and eight Rack stores throughout Florida, and has recently revealed plans to open a new 35,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack shop at the Shoppes at University Town Center in Sarasota. The next two targeted markets for Nordstrom Rack stores are Chicago and Louisville, Ky.

Image via The Markets at Town Center