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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jul. 25, 201805:20 AM EST

Metro Square office park along Philips in foreclosure

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Property will be auctioned off Aug. 30.
by: Jay Schlichter Staff Writer

Metro Square, the large office park along Philips Highway at Emerson Street in Jacksonville, is being foreclosed on and will be sold to the highest cash bidder Aug. 30.

According to Duval County Circuit Court filings, co-defendants Metro Park Holdings LLC, Hart Advisors Group LLC, Michael Fischer and unknown tenants failed to make payments on a $48 million mortgage, secured in 2007. 

Court documents show the loan’s maturity date of March 11, 2017, passed without being paid off. As of May, the claim increased to $57 million due to the full unpaid principal of $48 million, accrued and default interest, late fees, attorney’s fees and other associated costs.

On July 12, Duval County Deputy Clerk Jordan Burge filed a notice that the seven buildings, totaling about 375,000 square feet on four parcels, will be sold on the county’s foreclosure website – duval.realforeclose.com – at 11 a.m. Aug. 30.

The property, at 3563 Philips Highway, has a varied history.

The land was developed and opened for business in November 1960 as Philips Highway Plaza. It was renamed several times, taking on the monikers Philips Mall and Market Square Mall. 

The enclosed shopping mall featured Montgomery Ward and Woolworth’s.

Current tenants include office users, an ice rink, a climbing gym, a nondenominational church and more.

The director of communications at the climbing facility, Edge Rock Gym, said the information was new to him that the property would be sold at auction.

Erik Boetcker said he hopes the buyer will allow the gym to continue operating.

“This facility has no other opportunity to be anything but a rock-climbing facility,” he said. “The rock walls have been here for 20 years. It would be a waste of space to be anything else.”

The office space in Metro Square is about 80 percent leased, said Bruce N. Jackson, a real estate broker and the first vice president of CBRE in Jacksonville. He is listed as the leasing agent on property flyers.

He said there only are two spaces available, at 42,000 square feet and 23,000 square feet.

“We are operating day to day,” Jackson said, adding that he will continue to lease space in the office park until he’s told differently. “We keep moving forward.”

Metro Park Holdings LLC, whose address is the same as the office park, is directed by Fischer, one of the co-defendants. 

The property is managed by Craig Meek of The Meek Companies.

Meek said Fischer, president of Montreal, Canada-based Moteli Property Group, is one of several Canadian investors who purchased the property in 2007 for $56 million. 

Meek said Monday the leases with the existing tenants cannot be changed, so the companies operating out of the office park will “remain unscathed.”

Fischer did not return calls seeking comment.

Hart Advisors Group LLC is a Dallas-based real estate advisory and brokerage firm that specializes in commercial mortgage-backed securities. A representative with Hart declined comment.

Circuit Judge Kevin Blazs ordered the property foreclosed May 14.

“The defendant has engaged in conduct demonstrating that defendant intended to waive the right to be heard thereby making it appropriate for this court to enter a final judgment of foreclosure,” the order reads.

The property was purchased in 1996 by Meek and fellow developer Charles Price, who announced plans to redevelop it into an office complex. 

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