Jacksonville University is working with developer Rimrock Devlin LLC to develop student housing and community retail services on the almost 60-acre “Dolphin Reef” property north of the campus that was envisioned in 2006 as a massive condominium project.
A proposed city ordinance filed May 13 with City Council would rezone the 59.5 acres north of JU for mixed-use residential, office and commercial development to include student housing and retail space.
JU President Tim Cost said in a statement Wednesday that the school announced efforts more than a year ago to enhance the university for students, faculty and staff and to spark revitalization in its Arlington neighborhood.
“We are thrilled that a private developer has taken the initiative to work toward a plan that complements these efforts on the property immediately adjacent to the university. Our hope is that this type of private investment will spur other investments in Arlington’s revitalization,” he said.
Cost said JU has maintained contact with Devlin’s group as it developed plans for the site.
“We believe the uses being proposed by the developer, including the expansion of residential housing for our students, will allow the university to preserve our developable land on the campus for academic and student engagement purposes,” Cost said.
“In addition, the potential commercial uses open up experiential learning opportunities for our students and are in keeping with our collaborative teaching philosophy,” he said.
Dolphin Reef would serve JU and the surrounding neighborhoods along University Boulevard North, maintain compatibility and integrate with JU and its campus facilities and promote redevelopment of the area, according to a plan summary filed with the ordinance.
It “will protect the waterfront and will serve both Jacksonville University and the community as a whole,” says the summary. JU and Dolphin Reef front the St. Johns River.
It’s not clear whether the development will retain the “Dolphin Reef” name.
The summary for Dolphin Reef lists the development team as Rimrock Devlin LLC of Lake City as the developer; Taylor & White Inc. as the planners and engineers; and PQH Group as the architect.
Wally Devlin with Rimrock Devlin declined to comment.
City Council member Clay Yarborough, who represents District 1, said Wednesday he is scheduled to meet today with lawyer T.R. Hainline of Rogers Towers, the agent for Rimrock Devlin. Yarborough said he looked forward to hearing more about the plans.
“President Tim Cost’s energy is contagious and his initiatives at the university are a refreshing demonstration of long-term commitment to the Arlington community,” Yarborough said.
City Ordinance 2014-310 shows Dolphin Reef would comprise up to 175,000 square feet of office and retail commercial uses along with:
• Student housing, including dorms, suite-style housing, apartments and similar student-housing arrangements
• Fraternity and sorority houses
• Housing for the aging and elderly, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing living, memory care and similar uses, which could be associated with the JU nursing school.
• Other multifamily housing
Some of the Dolphin Reef property will be designated for passive open space, such as parks. “Active recreation” is permitted throughout, according to a document exhibit, such as parks, pools, tennis courts, exercise facilities, ball fields, courts and similar uses.
Much of the Dolphin Reef property is vacant, with parts developed as the university’s Alumni House and for secondary access to the JU golf course. The Alumni House would remain.
The rezoning would change the zoning to permit the mixed uses.
JU sits on 198 acres at 2800 University Blvd. N. Dolphin Reef is at 3812 University Blvd. N., north of the campus, also on the west side of University Boulevard.
The property currently is owned by 801 Grand Dolphin Reef LLC and PCA Dolphin Reef LLC, both of Des Moines, Iowa.
The property ownership is connected with Principal Commercial Acceptance LLC. PCA Dolphin Reef says on state records that its business in Florida is to hold real estate property.
Principal Commercial Acceptance acquired the property in December 2008 in a certificate of sale from AMC Delancey HC Dolphin Reef Properties I L.P., of Miami. AMC Delancey Group is Philadelphia-based real estate manager and developer.
Property records show JU acquired the property from the federal government in 2000 and deeded it to University Holdings LLC, affiliated with JU, in 2006.
The Florida Times-Union reported in March 2006 that JU sold the property to Miami-based developer Hudson Capital, which planned to partner with AMC Delancey Group to build a $400 million community called Dolphin Reef, reported to include 980 condominiums, 10 townhomes, and 40,000 square feet of retail space.
The Times-Union reported that JU officials chose Hudson for the sale in a move that they said would double the school’s endowment. Hudson officials planned to begin construction on Dolphin Reef by the end of that year.
The plans were adjusted in 2007, but the condo development didn’t take place.
Cost said in April he intends to roll out revitalization efforts this summer with Mayor Alvin Brown, Office of Economic Development CEO Ted Carter, city officials, community leaders and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
He mentioned landscaping, safety, street widening and better lighting as some of the improvements. The overall project has been referred to as “Operation Dolphin” and “Dolphin Corridor” on city schedules, a nod to JU’s mascot.
The 4,200-student university also is raising $120 million through the ASPIRE campaign for scholarships and research, health sciences facilities, improved athletics venues, an endowment and more. As of April, $56.3 million has been received or pledged, along with $1.9 million from university sources.