Mark Rubin isn’t waiting for East San Marco to develop along Atlantic Boulevard.
As East San Marco landowner Regency Centers Corp. decides how to proceed after the developer ended the deal for the mixed-use project, Rubin bought another building.
Through Atlantic 1639 LLC, Rubin paid $600,000 for the former Family Foundations of Northeast Florida Inc. building.
It sits next to his headquarters at 1649 Atlantic Blvd.
Rubin, a lawyer and an investor in San Marco and other infill properties, intends to renovate the two-story building for office space upstairs and a restaurant downstairs.
The 7,500-square-foot structure was constructed in 1960, and is similar in size and age to his headquarters.
It likely will be long completed before East San Marco, envisioned for 266 apartments and townhouses and a Publix Super Markets Inc.-anchored retail center, gets started.
The vacant site is at 1532 Atlantic Blvd., at Hendricks Avenue.
“Stop start, stop start. It’s frustrating and the community suffers,” Rubin said.
East San Marco has been discussed since 2002 and announced in 2006 as a Publix-anchored residential and retail center.
It has been delayed a few times for financing and cost reasons, including developer BR ArchCo ESM LLC terminating a deal in March.
Regency said that as the landowner, it is commited to the project and will move forward with it.
Rubin made his first San Marco investment in 1995 when he bought and renovated the two-story building at 2107 Hendricks Ave. where Matthew’s Restaurant operates.
He sold the property in 2004 to a group led by chef Matthew Medure.
“We have expanded into so many directions,” Rubin said. “We feel like we are always pushing the outer boundaries of San Marco.”
Rubin said that when he bought the first building, he was a different kind of developer.
“I am more focused now on not just trying to be a good developer, but also thinking about how we can improve the community,” he said.
Rubin said he likes infill properties for that reason. The Family Foundations building has been vacant a few years, “and we can make something really great that can be a part of the community.”
Rubin said he had a deal with the Family Foundations nonprofit in which he provided additional parking and access and it gave him the right of first refusal to buy the property.
Family Foundations moved into the Jessie Ball duPont Center Downtown.
Rubin bought the nonprofit’s building May 18.
Rubin plans to merge the parking lots behind the property and his building next door, creating access to 40 spots.
“That is going to give us room for what I hope to be a really great opportunity,” he said.
Rubin will renovate the building’s façade similar to some of his other projects into “definitely something that catches your eye but it looks like it’s been there forever.”
Cronk Duch Architecture is working on the project.
The first floor could accommodate a 3,500- to 4,000-square-foot restaurant. Reconfiguring the parking lot will make space for outdoor seating on the north side of the building.
The second floor will be offices. Rubin expects the space, at 3,000-4,000 square feet, will lease quickly to one or two tenants.
While the restaurant space will likely attract prospective tenants, Rubin will wait for the best fit.
He said when he bought the Hendricks Avenue building, he moved his headquarters upstairs and waited three years before signing Matthew’s.
“We could have filled the first floor of that building many, many times. We will do the same thing here,” he said.
He said he has talked to a few restaurant groups.
“I am really not in a rush. When the right user comes along, you just know it,” he said.
Rubin said interior clean-out has begun with the removal of ceiling tiles, doors and carpeting.
“We don’t waste any time,” he said.
Rubin estimates he will invest more than $1 million in the building. “We will spend whatever it takes to make it successful.”
While East San Marco is delayed, other parts of San Marco and the Downtown Southbank are developing.
For example, the Southbank riverfront is the site of the new 300-unit Broadstone River House apartments. Hendricks Avenue, which connects that location to San Marco Square, is developing with more restaurants and retail stores.
Rubin said he had high confidence in San Marco.
He said when the building is ready, “I think people will line up for it.”