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Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 26, 202202:00 AM EST

Historic Union Terminal Warehouse rehab secures $41.35 million mortgage

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Atlanta-based Columbia Ventures plans to transform the property into a residential and commercial space.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

Atlanta-based developer Columbia Ventures LLC says it has secured $72 million for its planned mixed-use rehab of the historic Union Terminal Warehouse. 

The company wants to build-out 228 workforce apartments and nearly 44,000 square feet of commercial, retail and light industrial or “makers spaces” inside the 109-year-old building at 700 E. Union St.

Columbia Ventures Development Manager Ryan Akin posted on LinkedIn that the company closed Aug. 18 on the financing.

Duval County Clerk of Courts records show that Bank United of Miami Lakes issued a $41.35 million mortgage Aug. 12 to the Columbia Ventures subsidiary that owns the warehouse near Jacksonville’s Downtown and Eastside for its plan to transform the building into a mixed-use apartment and light industrial space.

The mortgage, recorded Aug. 19 with the clerk of courts, says the financing was effective Aug. 16.

 The bank made the loan to East Union Property Owner.

The remainder of the financing will come from city loans and state and federal tax credit equity. 

City Council authorized $8.29 million in forgivable and deferred principal loans in May for the project through the Downtown Investment Authority’s Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program.

The capital stack for the building rehab also includes historic tax credit equity syndicated by Stonehenge Capital; Opportunity Zone equity led by The RADCO Companies; Florida Brownfields tax credits; and “friends and family cash equity,” according to Akin’s post.

The mortgage was signed by Dillon Baynes, Columbia Ventures co-founder and managing partner and East Union Properties title manager.

“It has been 3.5 years (including a global pandemic) since we acquired the property. People outside of development often wonder what takes so long before construction begins,” Akin wrote. 

“There’s due diligence, design, permitting, pricing, etc. (which are all significant endeavors) but there is another track behind the scenes that includes raising the funds to fully capitalize the business plan.” 

In March, the company had to rethink how it would finance the project. Columbia Ventures returned to the DIA board nearly a year after the agency first signed off on the city incentives package for additional approval after the company was unable to secure loans through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-backed lender and had to switch to traditional financing.

Council voted in April 2021 to designate the 330,000-square-foot Union Terminal a local landmark. 

The 7.35-acre Union Terminal Warehouse parcel straddles the DIA’s boundary. 

Columbia Ventures is coordinating with Groundwork Jacksonville, the nonprofit lead of the Emerald Trail project, to allow the 30-mile path to run through “subway” tunnels once used for freight loading. 

Turner Construction Co. built Union Terminal Warehouse from 1912-13. It was vacant for a brief period in the 1970s.

Property records show additions at 640-648 E. Union St. continued through 1990.

Union Terminal is Columbia Ventures’ first development project in Jacksonville. The company has announced a second in May — a five-story, mixed-use apartment building in Brooklyn. 

In an email May 9, Baynes said he expects the 341-unit, new-build project at 390 Park St. to be a $100 million investment. 

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