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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Dec. 31, 201412:00 PM EST

Hillwood courting 'Project Sunshine' for Cecil Commerce Center

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Fresh off the announcement of GE Oil & Gas, Hillwood Investment Properties is working toward at least six more major Cecil Commerce Center projects, including “Project Sunshine” and an undisclosed 1 million-square-foot build-to-suit distribution center that could be doubled in size.

Hillwood, the city’s master developer at Cecil in West Jacksonville, provided few details about those and other projects in its third-quarter report to the city released Tuesday.

That July-September quarter was highlighted with the formal announcement by GE Oil & Gas that it would develop a manufacturing plant at AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center, which is the name of Hillwood’s development area.

Hillwood described Project Sunshine as a build-to-suit manufacturing facility or campus of 850,000 to 1 million square feet. Hillwood’s civil engineers laid out a facility to those specifications on two parcels along New World Avenue. The tenant’s broker submitted a few more questions, but no formal RFP was issued as of Sept. 30.

In addition, Hillwood said it was contacted by a tenant broker representing a 1 million-square-foot distribution center that could be doubled in size. Hillwood’s civil engineers fit the space on two parcels along 103rd Street and received favorable feedback.

Hillwood expected to receive a formal Request for Proposals early in the October-December quarter for that project, but did not indicate that it did.

Dan Tatsch, senior vice president of Hillwood Investment Properties, said Tuesday by email that relevant fourth-quarter activity for the prospect would be included in the next report to the city, which is due at the end of May.

During the third quarter Dallas-based Hillwood said it also responded to:

•?A helicopter-maintenance facility initial inquiry. The undisclosed prospect is interested in buying land on which to build the project.

• A neighborhood retail center initial inquiry. The developer is interested in buying land. Hillwood met to discuss the concept and provided boundary-survey information for refinement of the plan.

• A 500,000-square-foot build-to-suit industrial facility. JAX Chamber is working with the undisclosed prospect. The use was not known.

• A distribution center initial inquiry. The undisclosed prospect is interested in a build-to-suit distribution center of 350,000 to 500,000 square feet.

Another speculative building also might be in the works.

GE Oil & Gas leased Hillwood’s first speculative building, which was adjusted to a 510,000-square-foot structure that is being built-out for GE at 12970 Normandy Blvd.

That building was Hillwood’s Parcel A spec building, which was developed so that prospects like GE would have quick access.

Hillwood now is positioning another parcel so it could quickly respond to a 400,000- to 500,000-square-foot leasing or development opportunity.

Among other third-quarter marketing highlights, Hillwood said it continued discussions that started in the second quarter with an undisclosed prospect interested in a build-to-suit, 500,000-square-foot distribution center on 100 acres and also continued talking with a prospective convenience-store/gas station operator.

Meanwhile, Hillwood declined to submit a proposal for a distribution center of 120,000 to 150,000 square feet because it could not meet the required May occupancy date.

Hillwood said its marketing efforts were significantly boosted by the GE Oil & Gas lease.

“GE’s operation will bring significant tax base, job creation, and positive publicity to AllianceFlorida and to Jacksonville,” the report said.

“We expect to see additional ‘ripple-effect’ business as word of this transaction spreads through the real estate, site selection, and economic development communities.”

Hillwood concluded its overall market assessment as even more optimistic than its second-quarter report.

“We continue to see slow, steady improvement, a trend we expect will continue through the remainder of 2014 and into 2015,” it said.

Hillwood has a long-term contract with the city to develop up to 30 million square feet of industrial and retail space at Cecil Commere Center.

Other large Cecil companies are Saft America Inc., which operates a lithium ion battery manufacturing plant; FedEx Ground Package System Inc., which is developing a distribution center; and Bridgestone, which has a large distribution center there.

Another potential development is whatever will be built on Cecil Commerce Center’s mega-site, north of Saft and FedEx, south of Interstate 10 and north of the end of Waterworks Street. The mega site can accommodate up to 9.4 million square feet of developed space.

The jaxcecilcommercecenter.com site features a conceptual site plan of the top half of the mega-site that shows two 2 million-square-foot manufacturing facilities and a future rail spur, with a rail product support yard between the buildings, along with a headquarters office building and a training facility.

No name or type of industry is referenced. It is not the same site as that described for the 1 million-square-foot distribution center.

The website describes the property as part of the “only CSX/McCallum-Sweeney certified mega site in Florida (with) 1,500 available acres, with suitable infrastructure to support a major manufacturing facility.”

CSX Corp. is the Jacksonville-based railroad and logistics

company. CSX sponsors six sites on its network it considers ideal for large-scale development and are certified by McCallum Sweeney.

Hillwood also posts information about the property at its hillwoodinvestmentproperties.com site.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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