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Orlando-based Freshfields Farm bought the former Liberty Furniture building at 5555 University Blvd. W. and wants to rebuild it as a produce and meat market.
Photo by Karen Brune Mathis
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City taking steps to approve Freshfields Farm at former Liberty Furniture site

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

The City is taking steps toward allowing owners of the proposed Freshfields Farm Produce & Meat Market to demolish most of the former Liberty Furniture Store building at 5555 University Blvd. W. and rebuild in two phases.

Orlando-based Freshfields Farm will sell only what its name implies – produce and meat, according to plans filed in September with the City’s Concurrency Management System Office. The City signed off on the concurrency certificate and the mobility fee calculation certificate Oct. 3.

The mobility fee was calculated at $29,750 and is the cost to support the development impacts of an enclosed area of 7,134 square feet on 4.2 acres.

Plans show Freshfields Farm proposes to redevelop the 4.2-acre site, at University Boulevard and Interstate 95. It plans to demolish most of the closed Liberty Furniture store and rebuild on the site.

The project calls for demolishing almost 22,000 square feet of the furniture building on the site, keeping 9,931 square feet.

FreshFields Farm will build a 7,134-square-foot addition to be used for the produce and meat market, while remodeling what remains of the furniture store into a warehouse area.

A future phase is shown at 5,259 square feet, for a total build-out of 22,324 square feet.

A letter from Acamas Civil Engineering with the applications states that there will be no dairy, dry goods or other items found in a traditional grocery store.

Acamas, of Jacksonville, is the civil engineer for the project. The landscape architect is Janet O. Whitmill and the general contractor is shown on plans as Williams & Rowe.

Plans show 136 parking spaces to start and 170 after expansion.

Those plans also show a proposed tractor display and picnic tables at the front of the building.

The site is specifically at northeast University Boulevard West and Spring Park Road.

University & Spring Park LLC, which was formed in April, bought the property from Liberty Furniture Co. in May for about $1.48 million. Liberty bought it in 1997 for $1.5 million.

Property records show it carries a taxable value of almost $1.21 million.

Partners in University & Spring Park LLC and in Freshfields Farm Inc. include David, Jacquelyn and Jordan DeLoach of Orlando. David DeLoach is the manager of Freshfields Jacksonville LLC.

University & Spring Park LLC filed its articles of organization with the state in April and Freshfields Jacksonville LLC filed in May.

According to freshfieldsfarm.com, the business began in 1973 in Orlando as a small meat market. It added a produce department in 1981 and then expanded again in 1983, 1999 and 2001. It said it changed the name of the business in 2008 from “Momm’s Meats Popp’s Produce” to “Freshfields Farm.”

The Orlando location, at 400 E. Compton St., is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, although hours change on some holidays.

It is closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

“We receive truckloads of fresh beef, chicken, pork, seafood and deli meats daily. Unlike conventional ‘super’ stores, nearly all of the meat we sell is hand-cut and packaged right here in our store the same day it’s received,” the website says.

“We don’t have distribution warehouses common to traditional supermarkets, which reduces the time it takes for fresh meats to get from the farm to our store. Besides the obvious benefit of having a longer shelf life, no warehousing also means no distribution trucks, which gets product to you faster and is friendlier to the environment,” it says.

The Freshfields Farm website said nearly all of its produce comes directly from growers or the packaging plant. “By eliminating middlemen, not only do we add days of shelf life to your produce, we also keep the prices low,” it said.

Liberty Furniture closed in 2011 after 87 years in business, operating first on Adams Street Downtown and then on San Jose Boulevard before opening at the University Boulevard location in 1986.

It remained in the same family, with Bea and Marvin Sherman being the most recent owners, according to a notice from the company upon the closing. Mattress Smart then operated the there, but that has closed.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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