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- 2014 - May - 15th -

Mussallem lists Philips Highway gallery for $11.2M

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Mussallem Galleries, a five-generation family business that sells Oriental rugs and fine art, has listed its high-profile Philips Highway property for sale at $11.2 million and intends to build a smaller center nearby.

Mussallem President James Mussallem said Wednesday the business doesn’t need a building the size of the 77,000-square-foot gallery and warehouse at 5801 Philips Highway.

The 5-acre site, at southeast Philips Highway and Bowden Road, is just off Interstate 95.

“It’s a great location, but we don’t need the location anymore,” he said, explaining that the company does much of its business with international customers and that it also doesn’t need all of the warehouse space.

Mussallem said the company intends to develop a 30,000-square-foot structure either onsite, if the buyer could accommodate it, or in the San Marco area.

He said he’s received numerous calls in the two days since the listing was posted.

He emphasized that while the property is for sale, Mussallem Galleries remains in business in Jacksonville.

“We are one of the oldest companies, since 1897, and we are not leaving,” he said. He believes the company is the oldest business in Jacksonville still owned by the same family.

The business offers Oriental rugs, paintings, antiques, furniture, art objects and jewelry.

Mussallem.com describes its gallery showroom as “an eclectic array of museum quality works of art, including oil paintings, watercolor and mixed media. In addition, there is an extensive collection of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Continental and European objects of art. Magnificent estate jewels and antique furnishings from around the world are also on display.”

Newmark Grubb Phoenix Realty Group is listing the property, led by President John Richardson and First Vice President Dan Stover.

The marketing brochure describes the structure’s Doric Roman architecture and explains that the 76,894-square-foot

building comprises 49,928 square feet of showroom and office space, 16,224 square feet of warehouse space, dock-high loading doors, 8,682 square feet of loft space and a free-standing 2,060-square-foot building.

There’s a plaza in the back.

The loft space was designed as living quarters, with $1.5 million in upgrades. Mussallem said his late brother, community and business leader Charles Mussallem III, had lived there.

Charles Mussallem III died in 2008 at the age of 57. Their father, Charles Mussallem Jr., died in 2007 at the age of 82.

The Florida Times-Union obituary for Charles Mussallem Jr. said his father came to Florida in 1897 at the age of 13 from Lebanon and stopped in St. Augustine because that is where the train stopped.

He peddled rugs there to wealthy people on vacation and, when the business outgrew St. Augustine, he moved it to Jacksonville in 1912.

Mussallem Jr. moved the business from several Downtown locations to a 45,000-square-foot showroom on Philips Highway.

He opened Mussallem Rug Cleaning Co. in 1952 and founded No-Muv Corp. in 1977 to make nonslip padding to go under the fine rugs. No-Muv, with a textile plant in Dalton, Ga., also is headquartered at the Philips Highway site.

James Mussallem, 54, said his family bought the Phillips Highway building, a former Chrysler dealership, in 1984.

The structure was built in 1969 and Mussallem said the family has added onto the building and renovated it.

The Duval County Property Appraiser lists the 2014 assessed value as $2.43 million.

The property is zoned for commercial use. Mussallem envisions uses such as a Costco or Home Depot, which he said had been interested in the property years ago.

“Anything could be here,” he said, from manufacturing to distribution to a niche retail center. Such centers feature a common area warehouse in the back while the front is divided into smaller sizes, such as 2,000 to 5,000 square feet, for retailers.

He said the building also could be used as offices, such as for lawyers, or by churches and other organizations.

“There are so many different things you could do,” he said.

The building can be viewed at phoenixrealty.net and Mussallem.com.

Mussallem said if the building is sold before a new one is built, he would rent temporary space.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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