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- 2014 - January - 9th -
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Advantus owners buy Westside warehouse

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

A very quiet and private Jacksonville-based company — Advantus Corp. — has a very public market reach, making products ranging from pool floats to office supplies to labor-law posters.

Advantus makes branded and private-label products for its customers and sells under 35 company-owned brands found in homes and businesses across the country and beyond.

Its advantus.com site provides some insights.

Based in a Mandarin office at 12276 San Jose Blvd., Advantus reports it was founded in 1913 and its customer list includes Staples, OfficeMax, Office Depot, Target, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Costco, Sam's Club, Garden Ridge, Michaels, QVC and more.

Its product list includes office supplies, decorations, file sorters, floats and storage containers, among others. It also offers online shopping portal services.

Its three factories, which make more than 4,500 products, take up more than 650,000 square feet of manufacturing space in Jacksonville; Mequon, Wis.; and in Asia.

So when a property purchase involves shareholders of Advantus, and the property is a warehouse near its Westside factory, the question is whether an expansion is expected.

In this case, no. Or at least, not yet.

Shawland Jax LLC, whose managers are Advantus officers Kevin Carpenter, Peter Levy and Charles Frohman, bought a warehouse Dec. 31 at 5131 Shawland Road from the David Smith Revocable Trust.

Carpenter is president of Advantus and Levy and Frohman are vice presidents. Levy also is treasurer.

The property sold for $1.6 million and Wells Fargo Bank made a mortgage of $850,000 to Shawland Jax on Jan. 2.

However, Levy said Wednesday the deal was an investment, not an expansion.

Levy said there are no plans "at the present time" for Advantus to occupy the warehouse. He said about half the space is leased to existing tenants.

The 120,000-square-foot complex sits on 6.5 acres.

The warehouse property at 5131 Shawland Road was built in 1966 and has a 2013 taxable value of $2.22 million.

The question of expansion is triggered also by the location – the property is near an Advantus manufacturing plant.

The Advantus.com site lists its headquarters along San Jose Boulevard and its manufacturing and distribution center at 3331 W. 12th St. The Shawland warehouse is just a mile from there.

Duval County property records show the West 12th Street address as a 160,000-square-foot complex of buildings on 14.1 acres and the property ownership as Rexam Beverage Can Co. of Charlotte, N.C.

In a 2002 incentives agreement with the city, Advantus proposed a $5.3 million investment to acquire and convert the vacant industrial complex at 3331 W. 12th St. for its use.

Advantus said in 2002 that its annual sales were more than $35 million and its customer base was more than 10,000.

The city said in a Dec. 2, 2002, project summary that Advantus employed 65 people, including 18 in Jacksonville, and estimated it would create up to 105 full-time equivalent jobs in Jacksonville within three years of completing the project.

Legislation was enacted by City Council for up to $665,000 in city incentives for Advantus to consolidate New York manufacturing facilities and expand the manufacturing, distribution and headquarters in Jacksonville.

The state would provide $562,000 for its share of a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund and a $100,000 training grant, records show.

Levy declined to discuss the company's current size and sales, citing its status as privately held.

While Advantus may be private, its reach appears to be very visible.

River City Science adding gym

The former Florida Coastal School of Law site along Beach Boulevard has become the River City Science Academy charter school and now the closed restaurant to the east will become the school's gymnasium.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans for the River City Science Academy gymnasium at 7605 Beach Blvd.

The restaurant, which has operated under several names since built in 1965, would be removed and a gym would be built for the K-12 River City Science Academy at 7565 Beach Blvd.

Abbey Civil Engineers Inc. is the project contact. The applicant is Yazan Khatib of property owner 7605 Beach Boulevard LLC and the agent is Blue Ocean Construction Inc.

Site development plans were prepared for River City Plaza LLC. Khatib also is a manager of that organization.

Plans show the 6,255-square-foot restaurant would be demolished and the 13,800-square-foot gymnasium would be developed on the 0.74-acre site east of the River City Science Academy charter school.

Florida Coastal used the River City Science Academy building when it first opened in Jacksonville and has since moved to a Baymeadows campus.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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