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- 2013 - July - 10th -

Dieselogic gears up for Westside Jacksonville redevelopment near Downtown

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

The City is reviewing plans for Dieselogic, a Jacksonville company being assisted by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, to renovate the 2345 Harper St. office complex it bought in West Jacksonville near Downtown to accommodate its expansion.

L&J Diesel Service Inc. President Omar Cueto said Tuesday he hopes to award the construction contract this week and complete renovations in time to move in by Thanksgiving.

"We are charging forward," he said.

Jacksonville-based L&J Diesel, based 4 miles west of the Harper Street site at 5323 Lenox Ave., specializes in fuel injection innovation and manufacturing in the diesel industry.

It makes test and calibration equipment under the Dieselogic brand.

L&J specializes in testing, producing and manufacturing diesel fuel injectors that use patented light and fiber-optics components for greater efficiency.

L&J Diesel says it has outgrown its 4,200-square-foot building along Lenox Avenue.

In planning its expansion, it has secured City and state incentives and also the attention and assistance of Khan through Stache Investments Corp.

L&J Diesel paid $1.1 million for the Harper Street property. Records show L&J Diesel bought two office-warehouse buildings totaling about 24,850 square feet of space on about 2.2 acres.

Cueto said L&J Diesel would use one of the buildings and the other is leased back to the seller, Arc International Inc., for two years.

Preferred Builders of North Florida was engaged to pull the permit for what is shown as a $125,000 renovation project and also is bidding on the project.

The architect is Lane Architecture.

Stache Investments, whose president is Khan, made a $1.05 million mortgage and security agreement to L&J Diesel on June 10, the same day as the property purchase.

"He and his team have been there to support us not only financially but also with business resources and decisions about corporate infrastructure, to help us with the growth that the company is undergoing," Cueto said.

"It's one thing being a local mom-and-pop shop and turning into a large business," he said.

Cueto said he spends most of the consulting time with Khan's team leader, a former executive of Khan's Flex-N-Gate company.

The executive "steers us in the right direction," Cueto said.

Construction plans show renovations of 11,463 square feet of one of the buildings.

Plans show first-floor renovations of 9,044 square feet of warehouse space and 2,419 square feet of office space.

There is a small area for storage space on the second floor.

Plans show the first floor will include space for offices, inventory, packing and testing, an assembly/clean room, product processing and truck service and repair.

L&J Diesel's City and state incentives include a $200,000 Countywide Economic Development Loan and a $100,000 state grant.

The City Council legislative summary says L&J Diesel proposed to expand in the City's Enterprise Zone, retain its 14 full-time employees and create up to 20 new full-time jobs by Dec. 31, 2015, at an average wage of about $39,856.

There is an incentives clawback if the company does not create the 20 jobs within three years of the project's completion.

The legislative summary said L&J estimated the project would result in fixed asset purchases of $2.6 million, comprising building acquisition and renovations and for purchases of manufacturing machinery, equipment and furniture.

L&J Diesel initially proposed to relocate to a larger manufacturing building.

When City Ordinance 2012-682 for the incentives was introduced in November, L&J proposed to buy the 70,000-square-foot former Barnett Brass & Copper building at 3333 Lenox Ave.

Cueto said the Harper Street building, which also is in the Enterprise Zone, better fit its needs.

Aleizha Batson, deputy director of communications for Mayor Alvin Brown, said Monday the change in address does not affect the redevelopment agreement because the company remains in the Enterprise Zone.

The dieselsoup.com site says that "since 1968, L&J Diesel Inc. has steadily grown in size, customer base and diversity."

It says the company began in Miami with one employee, founder Luis Cueto, and one test stand.

"The company moved to Jacksonville in 1974 and grew rapidly, relocating in 1990 to a new specially designed and fully equipped facility," says the site.

It claims to be "the largest, most diverse and complete, independent diesel shop of its kind in the southeast."

Cueto, 44, told the Daily Record in September the expansion could mean 50-200 new jobs, depending on the types of contracts the company receives.

"Nobody in North America has quite the elements we have," Cueto said.

He said in September that after expanding to e-commerce 11 months earlier, the business had grown tremendously and the company sought to continue its progress in areas such as manufacturing, sales and research and its development component, which is Dieselogic.

The business was started by Cueto's father, Luis, and uncle, Joaquin, before it moved to Jacksonville in 1974 and stayed in the family.

"What we have here is real … it's taking a small business that has grown up here in Jacksonville, basically, and growing it," Cueto said.

Cueto said Tuesday the company will need the second building when the lease is up in two years with the prior owners.

"If things go like they look like they are, we'll need it," he said.

Community First building in Bartram

Community First Credit Union is building a Bartram branch at 13910 Village Lake Circle in South Jacksonville Auld & White Constructors LLC is the contractor for the 4,000-square-foot building at a project cost of $1.73 million.

TerraPointe asks for wetlands determination at Crawford Diamond Industrial Park

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing the application by TerraPointe LLC for the 294-acre first phase of its East Nassau Employment Center.

TerraPointe, a subsidiary of Jacksonville-based Rayonier, plans the 1,800-acre Crawford Diamond Industrial Park in Nassau County.

TerraPointe reports the park has been approved by the Florida Department of Community Affairs for up to 10 million square feet of industrial land use, which can include manufacturing, assembly, warehousing, distribution and logistics.

"The industrial park's close proximity to JaxPort, the Port of Fernandina and Jacksonville International Airport, and on-site access to two Class I rail lines, makes this location desirable for prospective buyers," says the terrapointeserviceslandsales.com site.

On June 11, Gov. Rick Scott, Rayonier and Nassau County officials and others met to announce that Crawford Diamond Industrial Park became the state's second certified megasite and the first in Nassau County.

"This is the perfect place for any company wanting to do business across the nation and worldwide," Scott said at the event.

Steve Rieck, executive director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board, said the certification provided, by McCallum Sweeney Consulting of Greenville, S.C., is becoming a needed seal of approval for marketing industrial property.

"It signifies the site is served with adequate infrastructure, properly zoned, and relatively risk-free," Rieck said.

According to Nassau County, it provides a 30-day permitting process with no concurrency requirement, which allows companies to begin development as soon as possible.

At the event, Rayonier Chairman, President and CEO Paul Boynton said Crawford Diamond is at the intersection of two railroads – CSX and Norfolk Southern; has access to Interstate 10 and I-95; and is near four deep-water ports.

Breedlove, Dennis & Associates Inc. Environmental Consultants filed a petition with the water management district for a formal wetland determination.

TerraPointe, based in Fernandina Beach, says 1,505 acres are designated as industrial and 309 as conservation.

The land use includes 7.35 million square feet of high-cube warehouse; 2.1 million square feet of general light industrial; and 1.05 million square feet of manufacturing.

St. Augustine commercial center in review

MCS Development Corp. wants to develop a 7.5-acre, four-site subdivision called the St. Augustine Airport Commercial Center.

MCS Development Corp. is the applicant, agent and consultant.

The contact is Michael Antonopoulos, president of MCS Development.

A proposed site plan shows an office-warehouse, commercial mart and two office-retail buildings on the site at Florida A1A and Summer Lane.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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