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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Dec. 17, 202005:20 AM EST

Ash Properties wants to start interior work at former Mandarin Kmart

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The commercial real estate company intends to remodel and expand the discount store for retail tenants.

Ash Properties wants to start work on remodeling the former Kmart along 9600 San Jose Blvd. toward converting it into a retail center for multiple uses.

Jacksonville-based Ash Properties applied to the city for a permit for interior and exterior remodeling on the 95,662-square-foot building at a cost of $762,548.

The work comprises interior demolition, storefront work, roofing and other work to convert the building into an empty shell in preparation for tenant build-out.

Ash Properties also wants to expand the building by 16,011 square feet to 111,673 square feet of space, plans show.

Ash Construction LLC is the contractor for the project, shown on the permit application at $762,548.

Doherty Sommers Architects Engineers Inc. is the project architect.

Ash Properties has been working on the project for years.

Through Atlantic Mini-Storage of America Inc., Ash Properties paid almost $4.39 million for the property Dec. 1, 2015.

Kmart opened there 41 years ago and closed in 2016. It continued to lease the property until parent company Sears Holdings Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018.  

The Kmart at 9600 San Jose Blvd. opened closed in 2016. (Google)

Ash Properties said in October 2019 that it intended to renovate the building for several large and possibly a few smaller tenants. 

In October 2019, Ash Properties principal Elaine Ashourian said the Jacksonville-based commercial real estate development company will “be beautifying that corner.”

The site is at the intersection with Old St. Augustine Road.

The closed Kmart will be enlarged and divided for tenants. The site’s parking lot, lighting and landscaping will be improved.

She and Ash Properties Chief Operating Officer Randall Whitfield declined to identify the potential tenants until leases are signed.

Conceptual site plans indicate possibilities such as dining, groceries and home goods, although Ashourian and Whitfield emphasize those placeholder names aren’t necessarily accurate. 

Whitfield said then he planned for an anchor tenant of 35,000 to 40,000 square feet and three to four smaller “synergistic” tenants that complement one another.

Whitfield expected tenants of 16,000 to 40,000 square feet with some spaces of 2,000 to 5,000 square feet. 

The city issued a mobility fee calculation certificate Jan. 28 for the project. The city calculated no fee for what was submitted as a 110,686-square-foot project.

In May, Ash Properties submitted civil engineering plans with the city for the project. Jacksonville-based civil engineer Baker Design Build filed the commercial development plans May 1.

Sun-Ray Cinema, an independent two-screen theater in Five Points, announced Sept. 28, 2019, on its Facebook page it would expand with a five-screen theater in the Mandarin building.

There’s no movement on that, according to cinema co-owner Shana David-Massett.

“We continue to watch and wait,” she said. “Our operations are pretty consuming as we work to move this business forward during the most extraordinary adversity we could have imagined.”

Plans for the renovated former Kmart don't include the Zaxby's restaurant in the parking lot. (Google)

She said May 5 the cinema was reviewing a proposed lease, but said a timeline was not clear.

Co-owner Tim Massett said in May that “this pandemic has interrupted things a bit.”

Broker Marjorie Seaman, CEO and founder of Seaman Realty and Management Co., represents Sun-Ray Cinema. “This is a transformational deal for Mandarin,” she said previously.

Sun-Ray is operating its Five Points cinema and drive-in shows at 225 Talleyrand Ave. at Tailgaters Parking.

David-Massett said Sun-Ray will open the movie “Wonder Woman 1984” at both locations Christmas Day.

 “As new releases are finally released Sun-Ray will be ready to play them with the natural physical distancing of cars that a drive-in setting provides,” she said.

She said two furloughed Disney Imagineers are building-out a custom trailer so Sun-Ray’s new drive-in projection booth can be mobile. 

“We are in negotiations with the amazing folks at Tailgaters to have a consistent spot and invest in the suitability of one of their less used lots.  We also have our eyes on other properties to activate,” she said.

The 11.66-acre site does not include the Zaxby’s restaurant, which is separately owned.

The Kmart project includes an addition of a 7,380-square-foot stand-alone structure near the front of the site along San Jose Boulevard.

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