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Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 9, 201312:00 PM EST

Mellow Mushroom developer buys Avondale store for pizza project


Mellow Mushroom developer John Valentino bought the Emly Benham building in Avondale on Thursday, which will be part of his new restaurant development underway in the popular neighborhood shopping district.

Through MM Avondale LLC, Valentino paid $1.3 million for the vacant 5,990-square-foot store at 3611 St. Johns Ave.

He bought the property from Emly Benham Investments LLC. The sale was recorded Friday with the Duval County Clerk of Court.

MM Avondale also took out two mortgages totaling $3.06 million Thursday from The Jacksonville Bank.

MM Avondale bought the neighboring vacant service station at 3601 St. Johns Ave. in March 2012 for $800,000.

In early July, the City approved a permit for Burkhalter Wrecking Inc. to demolish the service station in Avondale for development of a Mellow Mushroom restaurant.

Burkhalter Wrecking was approved to take down the 2,000-square-foot one-story masonry service station and garage at a project cost of $13,425.

As the Daily Record has reported, Mellow Mushroom is preparing to build its proposed Avondale restaurant. The City has been reviewing plans for the project to include site work, a "ground-up" building and interior build-out at a project cost of $1.4 million.

The seat count is limited to 204 seats "per City requirement," according to the documents.

Tenant Contractors Inc. is the contractor and Design Cooperative LLC is the architect.

Plans have called for demolition of the closed service station and redevelopment of the site, with the restaurant fronting St. Johns Avenue and parking in back where the station had been.

The restaurant owner and developer is MM Avondale LLC, led by Valentino.

The project was debated by Avondale residents, supporters and the City, specifically about parking concerns in the neighborhood shopping district. They reached agreement early this year.

Valentino operates three area Mellow Mushrooms — Tinseltown at 9734 Deer Lake Court, Suite 1; 1018-2 N. Third St. in Jacksonville Beach; and 1800 Town Center Blvd. in Fleming Island.

His MM River City LLC recently bought a 1.2-acre outparcel at 15022 Max Leggett Parkway in the Parkway Shops near River City Marketplace for what would become his fifth area Mellow Mushroom.

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