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- 2013 - January - 17th -

Developer negotiating to rebuild, enlarge Publix in Cobblestone Crossing in East Arlington

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

East Arlington shoppers might have a new Publix Super Market if plans by the property owner to rebuild the Cobblestone Crossing grocery store are carried out.

Shopping center owner Cobblestone Sub LLC of Miami Beach is negotiating with Publix to rebuild the store on-site.

Cobblestone Sub LLC manager Daniel Halberstein said Wednesday that if the deal takes place, the project would be developed in 2014 and take six months.

"We are in discussion with Publix to rebuild the Publix and expand the store, but we have not signed a lease. So I can't confirm or deny, but we are in discussion," Halberstein said.

"Most likely if this does happen, it will happen sometime in 2014," he said. No other tenants would be affected.

"We definitely don't want to hurt the neighborhood and the tenants," he said, adding that developers are trying to make sure "if the project happens that it happens quickly."

Cobblestone Sub LLC applied Jan. 2 to the City for a concurrency reservation certificate and mobility fee calculation certificate to tear down the existing 44,595-square-foot Publix grocery store and build a new 54,244-square-foot store at the site. The certificates were issued Jan. 9.

The Publix has operated at the Cobblestone Crossing shopping center at 2771 Monument Road since it was built 27 years ago.

Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens, media and community relations manager, said Tuesday he could not confirm the rebuilding project. "We do not have a signed lease," he said.

The concurrency and mobility application shows that a new building, an addition and an accessory building would be developed.

"The existing building is being replaced with a new building that is 9,649 square feet larger than the existing building. The new building will be used for the same shopping center use," states the application.

The project agent is engineering and planning firm England, Thims & Miller Inc.

Halberstein declined to disclose the investment costs of the project, but said "it will be pretty sizable."

He said the project would include renovations of the center's façade.

Cobblestone Crossing was developed in 1986 on 13.3 acres at Monument and McCormick roads. Property records show it comprises five buildings and is valued at $8.23 million for tax purposes.

One of the five buildings is the Publix, shown at 45,000 square feet. It is valued at $1.3 million.

A preliminary site plan filed with the application does not show that any occupied existing retail space is affected other than the Publix store itself.

Halberstein said the expansion would take three vacant spaces next to Publix.

Speculation recently swept through a neighborhood near the store that the Publix would be rebuilt on another site, but the concurrency plans quell the rumor.

"Publix had looked into moving the store somewhere else," Halberstein said, but he said that did not work out and Publix began talking with Cobblestone Sub LLC.

"We've been talking to them for a few months and we are pretty close to getting to a point where hopefully we will sign a lease and put this into production," he said.

"It's going to be hopefully confirmed after the next couple of months," he said.

Halberstein said Publix has been operating on five-year lease options and the current lease does not expire for a couple of years. A rebuilt store would trigger termination of the current lease and a new 20-year lease would begin, he said.

Cobblestone Crossing is about 93,000 square feet in size. Halberstein said it was 92 percent occupied and there were discussions with tenants he could not disclose for the remaining 8 percent.

According to the City, the concurrency requirement mandates that before any proposed development can obtain a final development order, it must be demonstrated that its impact can be adequately absorbed by the public facilities, such as water, sewer, solid waste, recreation, roads mass transit and drainage.

The City's 2030 Mobility Plan replaces the transportation concurrency management system that applies a fee system to a new development based upon the link between land development and transportation. The fee is required prior to approval of financial construction and engineering plans.

The mobility fee for the Cobblestone Crossing project is calculated $42,734.

OptumRx wants to open training office

OptumRx, which is hiring for a 300-job health-benefits operations center in Flagler Center, is making plans to train the employees.

The City is reviewing a building permit application for 16,314 square feet of temporary training space at 12854 Kenan Drive, No. 120, also in Flagler Center.

Auld & White Constructors LLC is shown as the contractor for the training center at a project cost of $64,400.

As previously reported, UnitedHealth Group plans a 300-job inbound call center in Southside for its OptumRx pharmacy benefits management organization. The City already has issued a permit for Auld & White Constructors to remodel 47,853 square feet of space at 7159 Corklan Drive in Flagler Center for the operation.

OptumRx wants to open the center by mid-year with 150 employees.

UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn., is a health benefits services company.

Fairfield Inn & Suites up for remodeling

The City is reviewing a building permit application for the Fairfield Inn & Suites at 1300 Airport Road to remodel. It's a $675,000 project and Pinkerton & Laws of Florida Inc. is shown as the contractor.

Rummell to headline venture capital conference

Jacksonville civic and business leader Peter Rummell will serve as the keynote speaker at the 22nd annual Florida Venture Capital Conference at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The conference will be Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Rummell will speak at the kickoff luncheon Jan. 31. His topic is "The Creative Process in Building a Successful Business Venture."

The Florida Venture Forum said Rummell will talk about creativity in business and managing the creative process in a fast-growing company. Rummell's business experience includes serving as president of Disney Development Co. and Walt Disney Imagineering. He also has been chairman and CEO of The St. Joe Co. and CEO of Nicklaus Companies, founded by golfer Jack Nicklaus.

The conference will feature presentations by more than 20 Florida companies; panel discussions; and an in-depth look at the state of the venture capital industry by Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association.

For more information, visit floridaventureforum.org.

CBRE secures financing for sale of shopping centers

CBRE Capital Markets announced Wednesday it has secured $60 million in financing for the acquisition of seven shopping centers in Florida and for the refinancing of a Lowe's in Opelika, Ala., on behalf of H&R REIT. The lender is an undisclosed life company. The loan portfolio comprises more than 477,000 square feet in new acquisitions, plus the Lowe's refinance.

The three area properties are Mandarin Oaks, 11406 San Jose Blvd.; The Shoppes at Mission Trace, 955 Florida 16, St. Augustine; and the Corridors at Ponte Vedra, 840 Florida A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach. The purchase price for the seven Florida shopping centers totals $80.4 million. Six of the seven shopping centers are anchored by Publix Super Markets. Corridors at Ponte Vedra is anchored by Fresh Market.

Realtor.com: Jacksonville home prices up 8%

Realtor.com reports the median list price for single-family properties in Jacksonville in December was $199,900, up 8 percent over the year and up 0.45 percent over the month. The properties comprised single-family homes, condos, townhouses and co-ops.

The number of total listings, 7,710, was down 24.26 percent from December 2011 and was down 5.44 percent from November. The median age of the for-sale inventory was 97 days, down almost 18.5 percent from December 2011 but up 4.3 percent from November.

Nationwide, the number of listings was down 17.32 percent over the year and down 6.51 percent over the month, while the median list price of $187,900 was down .05 percent over the year and down 1.05 percent over the month. The median age of the inventory was 111 days, down 9 percent over the year and down 9.9 percent over the month.

According to Realtor.com, there was significant progress in the housing market during 2012. The amount of for-sale inventory declined steadily, with the number of for-sale properties in December about 50 percent below the levels during the height of the housing crisis.

While list prices increased the first half of the year, they declined the last part of the year. The median list price was about the same as a year ago.

Markets that Realtor.com considered the "epicenter of the housing crisis," Florida, California and Arizona, continued to strengthen while more markets in the Midwest and Northeast showed signs of weakness

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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