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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 27, 201512:00 PM EST

First Coast Success: Jacksonville native helps develop St. Johns Town Center in his backyard

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Paisley Boney IV is a Jacksonville native who helped to bring St. Johns Town Center to Northeast Florida.

Boney was a partner with Atlanta-based developer Ben Carter, a high-profile, retail deal maker who took the lead in publicity and marketing for the 207-acre Southside destination shopping and lifestyle center.

Together, the Ben Carter Properties group, including Boney, and the Carter family were 50/50 partners with Simon Property Group of Indianapolis in developing the St. Johns Town Center.

RELATED STORY: Taking to the skies to sell the Town Center.

The Carter group sold its 50 percent ownership in June 2014 to Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management’s Real Estate Investment Group for a reported $375 million. Boney now is CEO of Hyde Retail Partners LLC and is based in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Boney, 59, was born into the industry. He is the son of well-known Jacksonville executive Paisley Boney III, known as Pete Boney, who worked with the Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co. mortgage banking and real estate firm and The Haskell Co. design-build organization. The elder Boney, who died last year, moved to Jacksonville in 1956 when his son was a toddler.

When you were growing up in Jacksonville, did your father’s career influence you?

Dad had an MBA from Harvard and so I wound up with an MBA from the University of Florida, so that kind of influenced me. Dad had a tremendous mind for finance and math and statistics and phenomenal memory, so that influenced me, too. Probably a bigger influence was Stockton, Whatley and Davin. They had tremendous alumni. Bill Aberly (chairman and CEO) had a huge influence on me. His advice was to go into the biggest bank-training program you could because you’ll get exposed to a variety of different industries. Stockton, Whatley and Davin was owned by General American Oil in Dallas. Their two biggest banks were in Dallas and New York. We chose Dallas.

The St. Johns Town Center is used in economic development efforts in Jacksonville when leaders want to show a company what amenities the city has. What’s your view on having created this for Jacksonville?

You’re very proud. It’s like your children. I remember when we opened. To some extent I was scared to death. I was, Ben was, because we’re the ones that were in the helicopter trying to convince these people yeah, you can do it, and especially when it’s your hometown. The last thing you want is to lay an egg and it just not work.

You remember John F. Kennedy’s comment that success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan. It’s definitely the case. There are clearly a thousand people at least that had a hand into the success of the project. So it’s everybody that can pat themselves on the back.

There’s a lot of pride that I think the entire city has in it. And you’re right, it’s a big marketing tool for the city to bring in the executives, when they have corporate relocations. It’s a real plus.

Do you have any advice for those who are trying to re-develop Downtown?

Ben and I were on a retail task force. The big challenge is one of the greatest assets of the city – the water system. The river completely cuts the Northbank from the Southbank. So you have the Northbank, which took a gigantic hit when all the banks consolidated to Charlotte for the most part. Southbank has a lot of momentum already. Riverside has momentum. Then you’ve got the entertainment world of where the football stadium is.

You really have four areas and unfortunately one plus one plus one plus one is adding up to about 2 and a half. If you put all of that in a nice, neat walking distance, Downtown would be crushing it, but it’s not. If you could wave a wand and move the stadium closer to the core, that would be great. If you could move the convention center closer to the core, that would be great. We’ve got a jail sitting right on the riverfront with great, great property. We’ve got parking lots that are down on the river.

It’s a challenge somewhat beyond fixing. The river is great, but it just divides it.

What about restaurants and retail?

One thing that will help is retail and restaurants. They’re not philanthropists. They’re going to come when they know they’re going to be able to make money. What you need there are people. You need people working there and you need people living there.

You see the residential that’s going up on both sides of the river. You see Peter Rummell is talking about it on the Southbank. You see what Shad Khan is talking about it on the Northbank. You get the residential going.

The millennials prefer a more urban environment. They would prefer probably to live Downtown but they need a place to go eat and they need that lifestyle that comes with being in Downtown. Developers are going to need to be aggressive economically. It’s probably going to be more local restaurants because the Cheesecakes of the world are not going to go spec them out.

If you get a good project going with a local developer that deals with his friend, the local chef, and they help sponsor a lot of cost associated with it, I think that’s the direction it’s going to need to go.

What else would you like to share?

I’ve started this company, Hyde Retail Partners, and have a lot of great relationships with a lot of these retailers. Ben and I had the 19-year run with the big operating company. But with that size company, you wake up every morning trying to figure out how to keep the overhead covered.

One of the great things I’m doing is it’s mainly me and there’s a group in New York that I’m working with. There’s no pressure whatsoever to have to do a deal. And I plan on doing this for quite a while and it’s fun and it’s the best market for this. It’s a high-street, main-street retail. So it’s New York, Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Vancouver. All tremendous markets to go travel in, and I’m looking forward to doing this for quite some time.

It’s great to be back home and I’ve gotten involved at the zoo on the board with a lot of great friends. I remember going to the zoo when I was 7 years old for my birthday party and man has it changed. They’re doing a phenomenal job there.

Here’s another neat story. When Dad passed away, he had a great housekeeper, Dorothy. I met her son, Travis, and Travis graduated from UNF. Travis took the ACT seven times to pass it, tremendously persistent. He got into UNF, then gets his master’s at UNF and gets very involved in HabiJax. Travis’s mission in life now is to go help people that were like him and tell them that they can dream and dreams become reality.

You hear a young kid’s story like that and you’re so inspired. I’m going to do whatever I can to help this guy. He’s in it to help other people. He said the key is to get to those kids in the sixth or seventh grade before a lot of other people start getting to them.

I’m happy to help him and look forward to working with things like that in Jacksonville.

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First Coast Success: Paisley Boney IV

The Daily Record interviewed Boney for “First Coast Success,” a regular segment on the award-winning 89.9 FM flagship First Coast Connect program, hosted by Melissa Ross. These are edited excerpts.

The interview is scheduled for broadcast this morning and will replay at 8 p.m. on the WJCT Arts Channel or online at wjctondemand.org.

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