JU President Tim Cost said the new housing’s purpose “is to enhance the experience of the first-year student.”
Cost wants to recruit students to the private, liberal-arts university and knows he is competing with private institutions along the East Coast.
New dorms would offer a fresher environment than some of the existing JU campus housing that he says was built in the 1960s and ‘70s.
“We’re looking at whether we can take offline some of the older buildings,” Cost said.
It’s part of a larger effort. “We’re doing a full rework of the master plan,” he said.
JU encompasses 198 acres at 2800 University Blvd. N.
Developer Wally Devlin with Rimrock Devlin LLC said his group is scheduled to close July 24 on the purchase of the 59.5-acre Dolphin Reef property at 3812 University Blvd. N.
Partner Micah Linton said the only plans to date are those to develop the student housing. He said a lease with JU for the housing is in final negotiations.
Devlin said the dorm building would be developed on 4.84 acres.
He said no name was chosen yet for the property. Dolphin Reef is the name in documents, resulting from earlier undeveloped plans.
Devlin said no more details would be announced now.
Devlin is based in Ponte Vedra Beach and Linton is in Lake City.
Cost, Devlin, Linton and Rogers Towers lawyer T.R. Hainline, an agent for Rimrock Devlin, met Thursday with district City Council member Clay Yarborough and spoke after that meeting at City Hall.
Hainline said zoning hearings were scheduled in June.
The Jacksonville Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the rezoning request at a 1 p.m. meeting June 5. Public hearings are scheduled 5 p.m. June 10 at the City Council and 5 p.m. June 17 at by the council Land Use and Zoning Committee. The meetings are at City Hall.
Proposed city Ordinance 2014-310 concerns rezoning the 59.5 acres to permit a mixed-use residential, office and commercial development at the property, which is owned by 801 Grand Dolphin Reef LLC and PCA Dolphin Reef LLC, associated with Principal Commercial Acceptance LLC.
Dolphin Reef would serve JU and the surrounding neighborhoods along University Boulevard North.
The ordinance outlines up to 175,000 square feet of office and retail commercial uses along with student housing, fraternity and sorority housing, housing for the aging and elderly that could be associated with the JU nursing school, and other housing. Parks and recreational uses also are included.
In 2006, the property was designed for a condominium, townhome and retail community called Dolphin Reef, but the development didn’t take place in the wake of the recession and real estate downturn.
Principal Commercial Acceptance acquired the property in December 2008 in a certificate of sale.
JU’s mascot is the dolphin.
First-year students at Jacksonville University are the target market for a 274-bed dorm that will be the first phase of the 60-acre Dolphin Reef development north of the Arlington campus.