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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Nov. 18, 201512:00 PM EST

Hobby Lobby to open near Town Center

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Hobby Lobby confirmed it intends to open in the Strand retail center opposite St. Johns Town Center.

The Strand is the retail part of the 61.35 acres under contract to Preferred Growth Properties along Town Center Parkway at Gate Parkway.

Preferred Growth, a subsidiary of Birmingham, Ala.-based Books-A-Million, intends to buy the property in January from the Arthur Chester III Trust.

Hobby Lobby is the first retailer to confirm it will open at the site. Hobby Lobby spokesman Zack Higbee said the company plans on opening in mid-2017.

The arts and crafts chain, based in Oklahoma City, operates four area stores in River City Marketplace, Mandarin, Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine. It recently closed its Regency area store as it opened at River City Marketplace.

An apartment community also has confirmed it intends to build at the Preferred Growth Properties site. Plans filed with the city show Houston-based Stanmore Partners would develop the 347-unit Ravella at Town Center Apartment Homes on 6.6 acres at northwest Town Center and Midtown Center parkways.

A Stanmore executive said last week the company expects to buy the land in the second quarter.

Preferred Growth Properties can develop about 45 acres at the site. The remainder is part of the lake that borders the development.

Hobby Lobby, whose stores average 55,000 square feet, would join the up to 500,000 square feet of enclosed retail and commercial space that Preferred Growth Properties is allowed to develop on the site.

Preferred Growth Properties also can develop up to 100,000 square feet of office space, 400 hotel rooms and 500 multifamily units, such as the Ravella project.

The Strand is south of and separate from the Town Center Exchange project under contract to Core Property Capital, which has a contract to buy more than 60 acres for a mixed-use project. That land also is west of Town Center Parkway, but north of Midtown Parkway.

Potential retailers also are surfacing for that project. A representative of Core Property Capital said in September he has spoken with Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. about a site at Town Center Exchange. Almost 30 acres of that site can be developed into apartments, a hotel and retail and restaurant space.

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