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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Dec. 12, 201706:50 AM EST

High-end outdoor furniture seller  Summer Classics to open LaVilla showroom

Company buys building at 1104 W. Adams St. for $1.2 million.
by: Andrew Warfield Staff Writer

A national manufacturer and retailer of high-end outdoor furniture is helping set the tone for redevelopment in LaVilla.

Summer Classics last week purchased the 12,000-square-foot building at 1104 W. Adams St. for $1.2 million. It will be used as a retail showroom, assemblage and warehouse. 

Plans are to be open by spring 2018.

Summer Classics owner and CEO Bew White

While the location is strategic for the business, it also appeals to Summer Classics owner and CEO Bew White, who seeks to be on the leading edge of gentrification efforts in new markets, according to Jason Ryals, executive vice president of Colliers International, who brokered the deal. He said White prefers locations central to his customer base, but also those in neglected urban areas primed for revitalization.

LaVilla fit both profiles.

“We looked all over the Jacksonville area from the Beaches to San Marco and Riverside,” said Ryals. “They are a very high-end patio furniture retailer and are looking to draw from St. Simons Island to St. Augustine. We felt if we went to the Beaches or East Jacksonville many customers may not be inclined to drive into town, and then another 25 minutes, so we wanted to get as close to I-95 as we could.”

Easy access to the interstate — the building is adjacent to the ramps at Adams Street — was an advantage for the location. That efforts are underway to revitalize LaVilla was a bonus.

Lofts at LaVilla apartments is under construction nearby.

Summer Classics represents the first new retail outlet in the area in many years.

Jason Ryals

“Bew White has an affinity for getting a little ahead of areas that are beginning to gentrify,” said Ryals. “He did the same thing in Charlotte (North Carolina) and in Birmingham (Alabama, the company’s headquarters). A lot of their stores in the Southeast are in recovering areas, and he likes to be a catalyst for gentrification.”

The building was owned and had been renovated by McDaniel Contractors Inc. It was built in 1924.

“Here was this historic building that is nearly 100 years old, close to I-95 in LaVilla where redevelopment is going on and (White) thinks that area in four or five years is going to be a good area,” Ryals said. “More importantly, someone who lives in St. Simons Island or St. Augustine can drive 40 minutes door-to-door.

“Anyone who is going to spend $15,000 or $20,000 for outdoor furniture is going to drive a little extra to get there,” he said.

The nearest Summer Classics location is in Tampa, and the company expects to draw customers from as far as Daytona Beach, Ryals said.

“We had shown Bew White 10 or 12 buildings around town, and when we pulled up to that one he said, ‘Bingo! This is it,’” Ryals said. “It’s a pretty special company and they were fun to work with.

“It’s nice to have a client who didn’t want to go into St. Johns Town Center.”

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