Jacksonville University 1971 graduate Greg Nelson, who played basketball with Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore, bought almost 55 acres north of JU last week.
As the president of OLT II Inc., Nelson paid $6.99 million for the property. He bought it from PCA Dolphin Reef LLC and 801 Grand Dolphin Reef LLC.
Nelson is president of Nelson Holdings and was elected in April 2010 to the JU Board of Trustees.
Nelson, based in Dayton, Ohio, said Monday he could not discuss the property because of a confidentiality agreement. As a graduate of JU, he said he was proud to have had the opportunity to buy the land.
“I have no plans for the property other than buying it to make sure it is in friendly hands,” he said.
Nelson bought 54.62 acres. Jacksonville developer Wallace Devlin, through Dolphin Dorms LLC, bought 4.88 acres, the remainder of the almost 60-acre site, for $860,000.
JU has been working with developer Rimrock Devlin LLC to develop student housing on the “Dolphin Reef” property north of the campus. Devlin, of Ponte Vedra Beach, and Micah Linton of Lake City are managing members of Rimrock Devlin.
JU confirmed in June it would add a 274-person riverfront dorm to be completed in fall 2015.
PCA Dolphin Reef LLC and 801 Grand Dolphin Reef LLC, both of Des Moines, Iowa, and connected with Principal Commercial Acceptance LLC, sold the property.
Nelson said he is a land investor. “There’s a lot of speculation out there, but I am not part of any of those plans, not at this moment,” he said.
City Council has rezoned the 59.5 acres, once envisioned as a condo project, to permit a mixed-use residential, office and commercial development.
Dolphin Reef would serve JU and the surrounding neighborhoods along University Boulevard North, maintain compatibility and integrate with JU and its campus facilities and promote redevelopment of the area, according to a plan summary filed with the ordinance.
City Ordinance 2014-310 shows Dolphin Reef would comprise up to 175,000 square feet of office and retail commercial uses along with student housing; fraternity and sorority houses; housing for the aging and elderly, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing living, memory care and similar uses, which could be associated with the JU nursing school; and other multifamily housing
Some of the Dolphin Reef property will be designated for passive open space, such as parks. Much of the property is vacant.
JU President Tim Cost, who took the post in February 2013, has long talked about developing JU, acquiring surrounding property and working with the Arlington community to enhance the neighborhood.
“Greg Nelson is a great alumnus and supporter of Jacksonville University. We are pleased to have him as a neighbor,” Cost said in a statement Monday.
A JU spokeswoman said by email Monday that JU’s plans for residence halls, developed in conjunction with Rimrock Devlin on a portion of the property, remain the same as previously announced.
She said there are no plans at this time for any larger announcement regarding the property north of the campus.
Cost said in April he intends to roll out revitalization efforts this summer. He mentioned landscaping, safety, street widening and better lighting as some of the improvements.
The 4,200-student university also is raising $120 million through the ASPIRE campaign for scholarships and research, health sciences facilities, improved athletics venues, an endowment and more.
“Tim is a blessing for that university,” Nelson said.
Nelson, who said he was born and raised in Evansville, Ind., played on the basketball squad with Gilmore, Rex Morgan, Vaughn Wedeking, Pembrook Burrows, Chip Dublin, Rod McIntyre, Mike Blevins, Rusty Baldwin, Don Hawkins, Curtis Kruer and Ken Selke.
The 1969-70 JU team earned a spot into the Final Four, but lost to the UCLA Bruins. The Dolphins remain one of the smallest schools ever to play for the national championship.
“I guarded Artis for two years and have the bruises to show for it,” Nelson quipped. “I proudly carried his Gatorade for two years and am happy to be back there.”