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A decade in the making: Nordstrom to open Jacksonville store in 2014

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Finally, eight years after it first confirmed it was seriously looking at Jacksonville, Seattle-based Nordstrom announced Tuesday morning that it planned to open a full-line store at St. Johns Town Center in the fall of 2014.

The store could hire about 400 people, said spokesman Colin Johnson. “We’ll firm this up as we get closer to opening,” he said.

Nordstrom, one of the nation’s leading fashion specialty retailers and one of the upscale stores most speculated for Jacksonville, plans a two-level, 124,000-square-foot store.

It will anchor a new wing on the southwest side of the 1.1 million-square-foot, open-air center, the company said.

Les Morris with Simon Property Group said Tuesday the new wing would be between Brooks Brothers and Louis Vuitton.

He did not know the square footage of the new wing or how many stores it would accommodate.

Johnson said the company does not discuss the costs of developing its stores.

Asked how the Jacksonville store will compare to other Nordstroms, Johnson said the new stores “aren’t as big or maybe bulky as some of our older ones.”

“We’ve gotten a lot more efficient in how we build stores and have been able to reduce much of the back-of-the-house space and at the same time maximize the selling floor space and everything that the customer sees and interacts with,” he said.

St. Johns Town Center was developed and is owned by Simon Property Group and Ben Carter Properties.

In Florida, Nordstrom operates full-line stores in Aventura, Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens, Tampa and Wellington.

It has Rack stores, which sell Nordstrom goods at reduced prices, in several other Florida cities.

According to Nordstrom, the company believes opening a Jacksonville store at St. Johns Town Center “will put it in an ideal position to serve customers throughout the Northeast Florida region.”

“We’ve had our eye on Jacksonville for a long time, so it’s gratifying for us to now have this opportunity to open our doors at St. Johns Town Center,” said Erik Nordstrom, president of stores, in a statement Tuesday.

“We’re fortunate to have loyal customers in Jacksonville and excited to be able to serve them better with a store at the First Coast’s top shopping destination,” he said.

St. Johns Town Center is at Butler Boulevard and the Interstate 295 East Beltway.

The statement from Nordstrom said St. Johns Town Center has 10 million visitors a year.

“We’re excited to have Nordstrom join the terrific collection of retailers and restaurants operating at St. Johns Town Center,” said Simon President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Sokolov in a statement.

“It will further broaden the appeal and market for this great property. We’re also pleased to further expand our strong relationship with Nordstrom. This will be the 28th Nordstrom store in our regional mall portfolio,” he said.

Nordstrom has long been a target for executives of Ben Carter Properties.

“When we first started work on St. Johns Town Center in 2003, we were hoping we could attract Nordstrom to the project and the city of Jacksonville,” said a joint statement by Ben Carter and Paisley Boney.

“We are delighted they are joining the project and are excited about their impact and enhancement of fashion retail for the customers of St. Johns Town Center,” they said.

In an interview in March, Carter said St. Johns Town Center had space for two to three more department stores and shops associated with those.

Asked if he could tip his hand about the identities of retailers, long expected to be higher-end Nordstrom or Macy’s, he responded: “I can’t, but I can say there are a couple of exciting announcements that hopefully we’ll be able to make in the next six months.”

Simon Property is based in Indianapolis and Carter is based in Atlanta.

Simon also owns or has interests in The Avenues mall and the Orange Park Mall.

The Daily Record reported Monday that a major shareholder in General Growth Properties Inc., which owns Regency Square Mall, is urging General Growth to negotiate a merger with Simon.

Simon Property Group owns or has an interest in 333 retail real estate properties in North America and Asia comprising 242 million square feet.

Ben Carter Properties, now known as Ben Carter Enterprises, has developed more than $1.1 billion, and nearly 5 million square feet, in retail and office projects since its inception in 1993, the news release reports.

Nordstrom was founded in 1901 in Seattle as a shoe store and operates 231 stores in 31 states.

Those stores include 117 full-line stores, 110 Nordstrom Racks, two Jeffrey boutiques, one treasure&bond store and one clearance store.

It also sells through Nordstrom.com and its catalogs.

In July 2011, the Daily Record reported that retail sources were spreading word that Nordstrom was again looking at St. Johns Town Center, seven years after its initial confirmation of interest in Jacksonville.

“We don’t get into speculation regarding new store opportunities unless we have something definitive to share,” Johnson said at the time.

“We know we have lots of loyal customers in Jacksonville and we’re always keeping our eyes open for ways to better serve them, but we haven’t announced anything yet about a new Nordstrom there,” he said.

Johnson said Tuesday that Nordstrom has been looking at Jacksonville off and on over the years “because we’ve felt like we have a real opportunity in Jacksonville. “

“We’re grateful that everything was able to fall into place in a way that enabled us to move forward at this location in Northeast Florida,” he said.

Asked if the move was a response to a better economy, he said it wasn’t.

“It’s about us trying to do a better job of serving our loyal customers in and around Jacksonville. At the same time, our business is growing we’re encouraged by our results. In fact, 2011 was a record year for us when we hit our all-time high for total sales, and our business continues to accelerate this year,” Johnson said.

“We just feel that, for some time now, our customers here have been somewhat underserved. This is a great chance for us to do a better job of serving them and we want to make it more convenient to shop with us. We plan to make the most of this opportunity at St. Johns Town Center and are super excited to get our doors open come fall of 2014,” he said.

Leadership Jacksonville introducing Legacy Series

Leadership Jacksonville announced its annual reunion luncheon for Sept. 25 at the Hyatt Downtown.

Two featured events will be inducting honorary lifetime members David Stein and Dr. Albert H. Wilkinson Jr. and announcing its Legacy Series.

The Jacksonville Legacy Series features recorded and produced conversations with area leaders and the programs begin with the late Frederick Schultz as well as Jacksonville University Chancellor Emeritus Frances Bartlett Kinne, civil rights leader Alton Yates and former Mayor Jake Godbold.

The nonprofit’s spring 2012 newsletter says the initiative will have its broadcast launch in November on WJCT Channel 7. It says that in addition to the 30-minute broadcast show, minimally edited sessions will be featured on Leadership Jacksonville’s website.

For information visit www.leadershipjax.org.

McDonald’s Downtown construction approved

The City approved the construction permit for McDonald’s Downtown at 201 E. State St., on the current site of Warren Motors, which is moving its business to Brentwood. Stansell Properties of Tampa will build the $689,426 project. It’s designed as a 3,905-square-foot restaurant and is planned next to a Family Dollar store.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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