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Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 15, 201412:00 PM EST

Demetree Brothers reviving Emerson corner with retail


By clearing the site of a former call center, Jacksonville-based Demetree Brothers Inc. is positioning a high-profile corner at Emerson Street and Philips Highway for uses such as a hotel, bank, pharmacy and fast-food restaurants.

The 35-year-old vacant call center at 3100 Emerson St. is being demolished and the site should be cleared in three months. Demetree Brothers will work with a civil engineer to design the infrastructure for the land just off Interstate 95 to prepare it for sale.

“We think it’s good for the neighborhood,” said project manager Larry Matthews, a vice president with Demetree.

DBSB Inc., whose president is J.C. Demetree Jr., owns the property. The real estate development, construction management and property management company has unsuccessfully attempted to sell or lease the building, which has been vacant for almost 12 years.

Matthews said the building was outdated and would be costly to renovate, so the company chose to take it down and clear the land.

“We decided the best use of the property is to redevelop the property,” he said.

Toney Construction Co. Inc. is the general contractor listed on the demolition permit. Matthews said Realco Recycling Co. Inc. will take down the structure and salvage as much of the material as possible.

The city approved the demolition permit Wednesday for Demetree to demolish the 76,000-square-foot, two-story call center. Built in 1979, it previously served BellSouth and later Precision Response Corp.

Matthews expects to attract some national retailers to the almost 7.5-acre site, which will be divided into five or six parcels for sale or for a ground lease.

Some proposed uses were specified in a June revision to Demetree’s mobility-fee calculation application with the city.

Called the Shops of Philips on the mobility-fee application, the site is proposed as a multiphase commercial project that could include:

• A 120-room, 50,000-square-foot hotel

• A 5,000-square-foot bank with four drive-thru lanes

• A 15,000-square-foot pharmacy with a drive-thru

• Two fast-food restaurants totaling 5,900 square feet of space

Matthews said those uses are generic and could change, although he said there has been interest from national fast-food chains for the site. In all, the site could feature up to 75,900 square feet of retail space.

While parcel sizes also could change, they range from 1.07 to 1.71 acres, according to a brochure by Colliers International, which is marketing the property.

In March 2013, Demetree sold about 2 acres to Gate Petroleum Co., which developed a gas station and convenience store there to replace a smaller one nearby.

Demetree’s city mobility fee, which is a fee for development impacts, is $214,516. That is paid when the property is permitted for construction.

In late December, DBSB applied for a mobility-fee calculation certificate that was calculated to be $976,004, city documents show, but Matthews said traffic studies resulted in a lower negotiated fee.

Matthews said previously that the site’s access by residents in the Hendricks Avenue and San Jose Boulevard areas make it attractive for fast-food and pharmacy retailers.

“It’s very accessible from any part of the county,” he said.

Property records show DBSB has owned the site since 1997. DBSB bought the property from BellSouth Telecommunications Inc.

The office structure was built for Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Co.

USNR seeks Phase 2 permit

USNR, a Woodlands, Wash.-based forest products equipment company, filed plans for the second phase of renovating the Westside warehouse it bought in April at 6630 Broadway Ave.

The 170,000-square-foot structure formerly served as a warehouse for Football Fanatics.

In the first phase, recently approved, Gulf Tech Construction LLC began interior demolition to remove concrete from the floor slab to prepare to handle future bridge cranes. That project was $100,513.

The second phase is an almost $1.5 million project for Gulf Tech to make tenant improvements in the warehouse as well as exterior improvements along with site work, utilities, landscaping, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and other upgrades.

USNR has seven divisions in North America, including in Jacksonville at 1220 W. State St., just west of the Kings Road postal facility.

USNR bought the Broadway Avenue property in April from a Missouri partnership. Previously filed plans show it proposes to renovate the building at the 10.26-acre site, adding an elevated loading dock and a ramp into the building.

The warehouse was built in 1974.

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