Transportation, housing, jobs and medical expansion are driving new development in north central Clay County.
Citing those factors, developers of the proposed Branan Field Village bought 92 acres Thursday at southeast Branan Field and Old Jennings roads in the Middleburg area.
The anticipated $105 million project comprises apartments, hotels, and commercial and medical uses.
The site is just east of the new First Coast Expressway under development and not far from Cecil Commerce Center in Duval County.
That combination could catalyze the need for apartments, commercial tenants and restaurants to serve employees at the large companies — like Amazon.com — developing in the business park.
Branan Field Village LLC bought the vacant land from LPP Mortgage Ltd. for $1.8 million, according to John Kiddy, a manager and partner in the company.
He said housing developments in the area drew his group’s attention. “I knew that market was picking back up,” he said.
Kiddy said Clay County created the Branan Field Master Plan for the area to be a town center.
“The property was zoned, there was growth happening all around the area and with the idea of the expressway coming through, we didn’t think the property would do anything but get more valuable,” he said.
Branan Field Village LLC comprises managers of Duval Realty Trust LLC, based in Ponte Vedra Beach. Kiddy said he, Robert Hendricks, Timothy Benner and Ken Atlee are partners of both companies.
Their site is east of the First Coast Expressway and across Branan Field Road from St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County. St. Vincent’s recently completed a $33.1 million expansion, effectively doubling the hospital’s size.
Kiddy said 70 acres will be developed and the other 22 acres will be preserved.
Of the development acreage, 40 acres will be for multifamily residential, estimated at a $55 million build-out, and 30 will be for commercial uses, anticipated to be $50 million.
Kiddy said Branan Field Village will comprise:
• 600 apartments on the 40 acres, consisting of two phases of 300 units each.
• Four hotels on 10 acres.
• Retail, restaurant, professional and medical offices on 20 acres, to include a 7.5-acre medical village for primary and specialty care medical groups, a diagnostic and imaging facility, and a surgery center.
Land will be sold or ground-leased.
Kiddy said site development for the hotel park will start in the first quarter, with the rest in the second quarter. He expects the development to be completed in two years.
He said Branan Field LLC was under contract with a hotel developer for an 81-room nationally flagged hotel and is in negotiations with several apartment, retail and restaurant users and developers.
Kiddy said St. Vincent’s representatives indicated they wanted more restaurants, hotel rooms, day care and other services for their employees, patients and families.
In addition, Kiddy said there was a need for primary and specialty medical providers in the market.
He also referred to a property purchase by Brooks Rehabilitation nearby and separate plans for some assisted living facilities in the area, signaling an even larger medical presence.
The concept plan design will adhere to the criteria spelled out in the Branan Field Master Plan, which he described as a Traditional Neighborhood Design theme with interconnecting parcels and walkable streetscapes.
He said the plan calls for an interior road that will connect the commercial and residential parcels to Branan Field Road and Blanding Boulevard.
Kiddy said the nearly completed first segment of the First Coast Expressway is driving growth along the corridor, which eventually will connect Interstate 95 in northern St. Johns County to I-10 in western Duval County.
Kiddy said economic development will strengthen as the expressway is completed.
Bill Garrison, president of the Clay County Development Corp., said he has met with Kiddy and Atlee multiple times about the property.
Garrison said the ongoing construction of the First Coast Expressway is creating opportunities for commercial development and Branan Field Village is another example.
Atlee is president of Jacksonville-based Atlee Development Group Inc.
The First Coast Expressway is a multilane limited access toll road that will cross three counties — Duval, Clay and St. Johns.
SunPass will administer the tolls.
FDOT said the northern section from Blanding Boulevard in Clay County to I-10 and Beaver Street in Duval County is under construction. It should be completed in 2018.
The second half of the project involves roadway and bridge projects from Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg south and then east to I-95 in St. Johns County. That section is in the preliminary design phase.
Updates are posted at firstcoastexpressway.com.