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FedEx expects November construction start on Jacksonville distribution center

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

FedEx Ground Package System expects to start construction in November on its Jacksonville distribution project in Cecil Commerce Center toward a summer 2015 completion.

FedEx spokesman Jesse Bull said Tuesday it was company policy not to divulge costs related to real- estate projects, so it's not known how much FedEx will invest in the almost 300,000-square-foot center.

Bull said the West Jacksonville center is within an Enterprise Zone and an Empowerment Zone, which provides for some state and federal tax advantages.

"We will be taking advantage of those tax credit programs at the appropriate time," Bull said.

Monica Landeros, public communications officer for Mayor Alvin Brown, said Tuesday the City Office of Economic Development has not offered incentives to FedEx for the Westside center and doesn't anticipate any.

Meanwhile, the City is reviewing site plans for the project.

Developer SunCap Property Group of Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville engineering firm Prosser Hallock filed plans that show a 297,246-square-foot warehouse center on 46.2 acres at 13509 Waterworks St., north of the Saft America plant in Cecil Commerce Center.

Cecil Commerce Center is south of Interstate 10 and west of Chaffee Road and is part of the 17,000-acre former Naval Air Station Cecil Field.

FedEx confirmed in June it would build the distribution center and transfer 180 employees from its 2480 Lane Ave. N. facility to the new, larger hub that will serve the Jacksonville area.

In June, Bull said employees would be added to the Jacksonville facility as needed, but would not comment about the number of new jobs the company could create.

Bull said the Cecil site was chosen because of its access to major highways, proximity to customers' distribution centers and a strong local community workforce for recruiting employees.

The facility will serve areas north to St. George, Ga., south to Bunnell, west to Live Oak and east to Jacksonville Beach, Bull said.

Hillwood working on Cecil warehouse

Meanwhile, the City contracted with the Hillwood company to develop the AllianceFlorida park at Cecil Commerce Center.

In June 2010, City Council approved a 25-year agreement with Hillwood to serve as master developer of about 4,475 acres owned by the City at Cecil.

Hillwood continues to file plans for its first 400,000-square-foot building. Batson said Hillwood has not identified a tenant for that project, which likely won't be under construction until February.

That building continues to spark questions whether the City intends to make a play for an Amazon.com fulfillment center.

In June, Gov. Rick Scott and Seattle-based Amazon.com announced the company proposed to create more than 3,000 full-time jobs and invest more than $300 million in Florida by the end of 2016. No locations were announced.

Jacksonville has not publicly made a bid to land one of the large centers that the global Internet retailer wants to open around the country. Amazon.com has said it intends to build at least one in Florida.

Hillsborough and Polk counties have created incentives packages to lure a center and several areas have expressed interest.

Ted Carter, City Office of Economic Development executive director, said in late July that he wants Jacksonville to compete for Amazon.com, but wasn't aware of any incentives offer. Aleizha Batson, deputy director of communications for Mayor Alvin Brown, said Monday the office is "in no discussions at this time."

Enterprise Florida spokesman Sean Helton said Tuesday the project remains confidential and he could not comment.

"We look forward to providing additional details as they become public," Helton said.

Amazon.com has been building 1 million-square-foot centers nationwide. The order-filling centers are part of its efforts to provide next-day and same-day delivery for customers.

Carter said in July that given Amazon.com's national expansion strategy, the mayor's office has "reached out" to Hillwood to proactively market Cecil Commerce Center as a site.

At the same time, reviewing agencies have been looking over construction plans for the "JCCC Parcel A-Phase 1" project for AllianceFlorida, which has submitted applications for a two-phase, 1 million-square-foot distribution center on 100 acres.

As filed, the first phase at Cecil would be 400,000 square feet and the second would be 600,000 square feet. City plans show the address will be 12970 Normandy Blvd.

Also sparking interest is the reference to the building on plans as "Project Z."

Dixon Hughes Goodman renovations approved

The City approved the almost $400,000 build-out for Dixon Hughes Goodman at 245 Riverside Ave., marking one of the many tenants moving to or within Downtown.

The accounting firm will relocate from the Bank of America Building at 6622 Southpoint Drive S. in the Southpoint area of Southside.

Dav-Lin Interior Contractors will handle the renovations to 12,000 square feet of office space on the third and fourth floors at 245 Riverside at a project cost of $375,861.

"We like to be good corporate citizens, contributing corporate citizens, and we know Jacksonville has a major initiative to promote Downtown and make that a center of our financial community and we want to be supportive of that," Lance Windley, office managing partner of the accounting firm's Jacksonville operation, told the Daily Record this month.

Windley said Dixon Hughes Goodman will move its 40 employees Downtown by Oct. 18. The office space totals 15,000 square feet. Windley said it is designed for 50 people, which allows for expansion.

Development notes

• Living Waters World Outreach proposes first-phase construction of a 500-seat sanctuary, a 13,370-square-foot multiuse gymnasium and parking in Nassau County on 6.35 acres at 96282 Brady Pointe Road in Fernandina Beach. Additional phases would include a second 500-seat sanctuary, gymnasium and soccer and all-purpose field. The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans. The project agent is Gillette & Associates of Fernandina Beach.

• The Florida Department of Transportation is making plans to improve the interchange of Pritchard Road and the Interstate 295 West Beltway in west Duval County. The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans for operational improvements at the 67.3-acre site. The project proposes to add turn lanes on Pritchard Road and lengthen and widen the on/off ramps. Stantec Consulting Inc. is the consulting engineer.

• The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens wants to build an education animal-holding building at its North Jacksonville campus. The City and the St. Johns River Water Management District are reviewing plans by the zoo to demolish an existing pavilion and concrete pad and build the new structure near the southwest corner of the visitor parking lot. The building will be used as an animal-holding facility for the zoo's educational programs. Prosser Hallock Inc. is the consulting engineer.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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