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Ja-Ru files site plans for Flagler Center headquarters

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Jacksonville-based toy importer Ja-Ru Inc. filed plans with the city for its proposed Flagler headquarters and distribution center designed as a two-phase, almost 490,000-square-foot operation.

Based on its economic development agreement in November with the city, the company must start construction on or before Dec. 31 and be completed by Dec. 31, 2015. The city adopted a resolution in November approving two grants totaling $496,000 for the project.

Ja-Ru intends to consolidate operations from its current headquarters and warehouse at 4030 Philips Highway, another warehouse it owns along Powers Avenue and a separate warehouse it leases. It paid $3.03 million in December 2012 to buy 22.05 acres in Flagler Center for the project. Colliers International was Ja-Ru’s broker.

Site development plans show a first phase comprising a 310,788-square-foot warehouse and 45,120-square-foot office at 12901 Flagler Center Blvd., which is in the Bayard area of South Jacksonville.

An adjacent second phase would expand the warehouse by 129,212 square feet.

Infinity Design Builders Inc. is the contractor and its Bruce-Terrell Architects Inc. division is the architect. Janet O. Whitmill is the landscape architect and Abbey Civil Engineers Inc. is the civil engineer.

Ja-Ru’s website, jaru.com, says Ja-Ru is a Florida-based toy company with offices and showrooms in Jacksonville and Hong Kong.

It said it has become the leading supplier worldwide of impulse toys — generally, toys bought “on impulse” in grocery, convenience and other stores. Brands include Toss ‘Em Water Bomb, Splash Fun, Explore Planet Earth, Dino World, Pocket Travel, That’s Gross! and Fun Bubbles.

Ja-Ru employs more than 150 people, with more than 100 in the United States.

State records show the privately held company was incorporated in 1967 in Florida.

The website said the family owned operation began in 1961 by Bernard Selevan, who named the company after his two sons, Jack and Russell, who now run the business. Jack Selevan’s sons, Marc and Andrew, are part of the third generation of the business.

Jack Selevan is listed as the president and treasurer, and other officers and directors include Russell, Marc and Andrew Selevan, Bruce Connor and Dennis Wit.

The company has not commented on the plans and did not return a phone call for comment late last week.

Ja-Ru bought its Philips Highway property in 1984 and constructed its building in 1985. The Powers Avenue structures were built in 1972.

The 4030 Philips Highway site is about 12.5 miles north of Flagler Center, which is in South Jacksonville, between Interstate 95 and Philips Highway, south of Old St. Augustine Road.

Baptist Medical Center South, Citicorp’s credit card division campus and Web.com are among the major users.

JAX Chamber honors Southeast Toyota

JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development division of the JAX Chamber, presented its quarterly Industry Leadership Award to Southeast Toyota Distributors, a subsidiary of JM Family Enterprises and the world’s largest distributor of Toyota and Scion vehicles.

JAXUSA presented the award Wednesday at its quarterly luncheon. The award recognizes a company’s “outstanding business performance and corporate citizenship.”

Southeast Toyota operates a processing and parts distribution center in the Westlake Industrial Park in West Jacksonville. JAXUSA said Southeast Toyota’s operations in Northeast Florida remain a major component of the company’s global presence.

The company’s Jacksonville-based divisions include vehicle processing and parts distribution.

Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC filed plans with the St. Johns River Water Management District to add a 20,000-square-foot services building at its Westlake Industrial Park processing and distribution center at 9985 Pritchard Road.

Southeast Toyota owns almost 251 acres at the West Jacksonville industrial center. Property records show it owns 14 building totaling about 350,000 square feet of space.

JAXUSA said the company’s Jacksonville-based divisions also include a 33,000-square-foot Technical Training Center at Westlake that is one of the largest automotive training and technical support facilities in the nation. It said Southeast Toyota continues to expand in Jacksonville because of its close proximity to JaxPort, which provides direct access to vehicles arriving by ship.

The chamber said the company, based in Deerfield Beach, was created in 1968 and has nearly 4,000 employees. In 2013, revenue reached $12.5 billion. Southeast Toyota was ranked No. 27 on Forbes’ list of “America’s Largest Private Companies.”

Jim Moran founded the company with Toyota Motor Sales to help expand the automaker’s presence in the U.S. Today it distributes vehicles, parts and accessories to 176 independent Toyota dealerships in the Southeast. Southeast Toyota dealers sell 20 percent of all Toyotas sold in the country.

JAXUSA also noted JM Family’s philanthropic efforts in contributing time and money to nonprofits.

Chamber expects 1,000 more jobs

JAXUSA Partnership Chair Fredrik Eliasson said Wednesday another 1,000 or more jobs could be announced by mid to late October.

He provided no details about those additional jobs to the almost 500 people attending the JAXUSA Partnership lunch.

Eliasson updated the first-half results for 2014. He said the partnership, which covers seven counties in Northeast Florida, made 14 announcements that pledge 1,400 new jobs and $20 million in capital investment.

He said 40 more prospects are in the pipeline and he expects that to increase throughout

the year.

Eliasson also outlined several sales missions completed or planned by the JAX Chhamber, including the Farnborough Airshow in July in England.

“Northeast Florida’s continued focus on economic development is paying off,” he said.

Casework planning warehouse renovations

Casework of America Inc., one of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s recent investments, applied for a permit to renovate the West Jacksonville warehouse it bought May 30.

Casework, which makes furniture and furnishings for commercial use, applied to renovate office space at the structure at a project cost of $287,000.

That boosts the investment there to almost $4 million.

Dakenna Development Inc. is the contractor on the application.

Casework of America paid $3.7 million for the 144,000-square-foot structure on almost 7 acres at 1030 Ellis Road N., just north of Commonwealth Avenue. Casework of America’s directors are Thomas Clarkson and Jim Zsebok, both of Naples. The address is Stache Investments Corp., which is Khan’s investment company.

Casework of America is expected to continue to lease 67,000 square feet at the warehouse to tenant Coastal International Logistics CIL Forwarding and use the remaining 77,000 square feet of space.

Casework had been leasing space at 6500 Youngerman Circle in Southwest Jacksonville near Orange Park.

Caseworkofamerica.com says the company has been in business for more than 20 years, building furnishings and fixtures for commercial and retail uses. It specializes in the fabrication of wood and laminate case goods and store fixtures using state-of-the-art applications and machinery.

Retail notes

• Natural Life, the Jacksonville-based women’s and girls’ clothing, accessories and gifts store, is preparing to build-out its store in the Nordstrom wing at St. Johns Town Center. Natural Life is a $75,000 project to renovate 2,000 square feet of space.

• The fab’rik women’s boutique intends to renovate space for a store at St. Johns Town Center at 10274 Buckhead Branch Drive, No. 119, not far from

Nordstrom. It’s a $48,000 project to renovate 1,346 square feet of space.

• Apricot Lane Boutique will build-out space in The Avenues mall at 10300 Southside Blvd. The $74,360 project will renovate 1,421 square feet of space for the women’s fashion and gift store.

• Family Dollar submitted a permit application to build a store at 10390 Normandy Blvd. The 8,320-square-foot store carries a construction cost of $650,000.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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