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- 2013 - January - 4th -

Broker: Ja-Ru plans 450,000-square-foot distribution center at Flagler Center

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Jacksonville-based toy importer Ja-Ru Inc. intends to consolidate its area operations into a 450,000-square-foot headquarters and distribution center on property it bought recently in Flagler Center in South Jacksonville, according to a broker with the deal.

Hobart Joost, a principal with Colliers International Northeast Florida, said Thursday his group represented Ja-Ru in its $3.03 million acquisition in December of 22.05 acres of usable property at Flagler Center.

Joost did not have an estimate of the development costs. At an industry average of $32 a square foot, construction of the Ja-Ru structure could cost $14.4 million, not counting land, equipment, inventory and other costs.

There was no timetable given for the development.

Colliers said Ja-Ru would consolidate operations from its current headquarters and warehouse at 4030 Philips Highway, another warehouse it owns along Powers Avenue and a separate warehouse it leases. That warehouse is along Haines Street, according to Colliers broker Guy Preston.

Ja-Ru executives have not commented about the deal and were unavailable Thursday.

Joost, Preston and Colliers broker David Ergisi worked on the deal.

Joost, a senior vice president, is director of industrial services. Preston, a vice president, is a member of the industrial services group.

Ergisi, an associate, works with brokerage investment properties in the investment services group.

Joost said the sale, along with several other major industrial tract deals in recent weeks, is meaningful.

"This is our first industrial tract sale in four years. We sold seven large tracts in 2007-08 and then the lights went out," Joost said. The national recession officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, although it lasted longer in Florida and the recovery has been slow, economists said.

"I think the sale is important, not because of the location or consideration, but because this sale may be a sign that the market is beginning to turn and confidence may be coming back, other than the fiscal cliff and lack of job creation," Joost said.

Two other recent sales support his belief.

Mervis Industries of Danville, Ill., paid $2 million for 50 acres along Commonwealth Avenue, west of Interstate 295, for a development with GO Auto Recycling.

Publix Super Markets Inc. of Lakeland paid $3.07 million for 57 acres next to its distribution center along West Beaver Street. City Council member Doyle Carter told the Daily Record the property might be under consideration by Publix for a dairy-products production facility.

The Daily Record reported Dec. 19 that Ja-Ru Inc., which imports and distributes impulse toys, bought property in Flagler Center for $3 million.

Ja-Ru, a 52-year-old company, owns a 147,000-square-foot office, warehouse and distribution center on about 5.9 acres at its headquarters site. It also owns a 50,200-square-foot warehouse and 4,400-square-foot office on 1.6 acres nearby at 2950 Powers Ave.

Ja-Ru's website, jaru.com, says Ja-Ru is a Florida-based toy company with offices and showrooms in Jacksonville and Hong Kong.

It said it has become the leading supplier worldwide of impulse toys — generally, toys bought "on impulse" in grocery, convenience and other stores. Ja-Ru employs more than 150 people, with more than 100 in the United States.

It sells throughout the country and ships to more than 35 countries. It distributes outdoor and classic toys and more.

According to its website, brands include Toss 'Em Water Bomb, Splash Fun, Explore Planet Earth, Dino World, Pocket Travel, That's Gross! and Fun Bubbles, among many others.

"It is rare to go into any retailer anywhere in the world and not find a JA-RU toy," says the website. Its logo calls it JA-RU Inc., The Rack Toy Co.

Ja-Ru is privately held. State records show it was incorporated in 1967 in Florida.

The website said the family-owned operation began in 1961 by Bernard Selevan, who named the company after his two sons, Jack and Russell, who now run the business. Jack Selevan's sons, Marc and Andrew, are part of the third generation of the business.

Jack Selevan is listed as the president and treasurer, and other officers and directors include Russell, Marc and Andrew Selevan, Bruce Connor and Arnold Prodber.

Ja-Ru bought the Flagler land from FC Land Parcels LLC of Coral Gables. The property carries a taxable value of $5.16 million.

Ja-Ru's existing Philips Highway property is valued for tax purposes at $3.78 million. Ja-Ru bought the property in 1984 for $390,000. The building was constructed in 1985. The Powers Avenue structures were built in 1972 and have a taxable value of $1.1 million.

The 4030 Philips Highway site is about 12.5 miles north of the Flagler Center property.

Flagler Center is a 1,022-acre business park that houses 1.4 million square feet of office and industrial space, according to the flaglerdev.com website.

The center is in South Jacksonville, between Interstate 95 and Philips Highway, south of Old St. Augustine Road. Baptist Medical Center South, Citicorp's credit card division campus and Web.com are among the major users.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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