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A Pilot Travel Center is planned at southwest Interstate 295 and Pritchard Road. This one recently opened in Beasley, Texas. The Jacksonville layout will be reversed with Arby's on the left.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 4, 201512:00 PM EST

Northwest Jacksonville gaining Pilot Travel Center and Holiday Inn Express


Major commercial development is planned in Northwest Jacksonville along the Interstate 295 West Beltway.

Pilot Flying J intends to develop an almost 9-acre, more than $4 million Pilot Travel Center at southwest I-295 and Pritchard Road.

About two miles south, hotelier Philip Murphey plans to build a $9 million, up to 100-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites at northeast I-295 and Commonwealth Avenue.

The city is reviewing site plans and building-permit applications for the Pilot Travel Center on vacant property owned by Robert’s Diesel Service Inc.

It would be the third Pilot Travel Center in the Jacksonville area. The others are in Baldwin off of I-10 and at County Road 210 off I-95.

Plans show Pilot Travel Centers will build a $4.15 million travel center, including an almost 13,000-square-foot retail building along with fueling positions for cars and trucks.

Plans show it will include a drive-thru Arby’s, and the company says it also will include a Cinnabon and PJ Fresh, which sells fast-casual food such as roasted chicken, pizza, soup, salads, sandwiches and hot dogs.

The permit applications do not list a contractor.

Property owner Robert Taylor said the Northwest Jacksonville area needs the project, given that he estimates at least 50 warehouse operations populate the vicinity.

Pilot centers cater to truckers, among other travelers, and that area’s warehouses and distribution centers create a significant flow of tractor-trailer traffic.

The Westside Industrial Park, Perimeter West Industrial Park and Crossroads Distribution Center all are nearby.

“It’s going to be one of the major intersections,” Taylor said.

Pilot Communication Manager Anne LeZotte at Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters said construction is scheduled to start in September and the center should open in early 2016.

It will hire about 44-55 employees.

She said the Jacksonville center is scheduled to hold five gasoline lanes and eight diesel lanes.

Because it is privately held, LeZotte said the company does not comment on its investment costs or future business opportunities or locations.

Pilot Flying J says it is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. It operates more than 660 retail locations and is opening 15 a year.

The site shows 23 locations in Florida.

Pilot TravelCenters LLC and Flying J Inc. merged in 2010, combining two well-known brands in the travel center industry. The travel centers and plazas serve trucking companies, professional drivers, RV drivers and traveling motorists.

The company says its Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 65,000 parking spaces for trucks, 4,400 showers and more than 4,000 diesel lanes offering diesel exhaust fluid at the pump.

Pilot Flying J says some of its locations offer fitness centers and that it also will be opening some urgent care centers by the end of next year.

More than 400 restaurants operate in Pilot Flying J locations across the country.

It’s the second major travel center to settle along a Jacksonville interstate in the past year. Love’s Travel Stops, of Oklahoma City, opened on almost 14 acres at I-95 and Pecan Park Road in the spring.

Meanwhile, Murphey expects to start site work within two weeks to prepare the soil for the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

He said the contractor indicates a nine-12 month construction timeframe.

He expects an investment of $9 million to $9.5 million.

Murphey is quite familiar with the location. His company, Murphco of Florida Inc., bought the 2.6-acre site at 1120 Suemac Road in 2002 from N.G. Wade Investment Co.

Moreover, he owned the Quality Inn Conference Center across the street at 6802 Commonwealth Ave. before selling it in 2013.

Murphey and his father built the original Holiday Inn in 1981 and expanded in 1987. It was converted in February 2011 to a Quality Inn.

The full-service, two-story hotel, which now offers 111 rooms, features a restaurant, conference center and indoor pool.

The Holiday Inn Express will be the updated prototype design to position the brand as the “smart” choice for guests and owners.

Guest rooms will feature functional and flexible workspace and storage units along with movable seating and new décor.

The prototype also features a business center and 24/7 market, individual check-in pods in the front lobby and upgraded meeting spaces.

Murphey said his group had “tremendous success at Commonwealth” with the Holiday Inn, but as the property aged it became more difficult to update.

“There is just a flood of business there that would like a new product. We were there for 35 years, so we know the market really well out there,” he said.

Murphey said it will be the group’s first Holiday Inn Express.

N.G. Wade and Murphey applied to the St. Johns River Water Management District and for city concurrency for a 93-room, four-story, 54,560-square-foot Holiday Inn Express at the Suemac site. The permit was issued July 23.

Murphey said the hotel could be 100 rooms, but he sees a demand for more meeting space at the location, which is near the same industrial population that Taylor sees as a big market.

“The meeting-room business is exceptional at Commonwealth,” he said. Because of that, he is asking approvals from franchisor InterContinental Hotels Group to decrease the number of sleeping rooms by seven and include more meeting space.

Murphey also operates the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites along Wells Road in Orange Park as well as properties in Tallahassee and Tampa.


Executive Center at Deerwood sold for $6.3M

Bayway Investors Group LLC sold Executive Center at Deerwood, comprising four office buildings along Baymeadows Way, to a Miami investment group for $6.3 million.

Bayway, led by David Muyres of Fleming Island and Robert Van Winkel of Jacksonville, sold the property Wednesday to Bay Meadows RE LLC.

The office buildings total almost 111,000 square feet of space on 6.2 acres at 7910, 7948, 7954 and 7960 Baymeadows Way. They collectively are assessed for tax purposes at $5.5 million. They were built in 1981 and 1983.

The buildings comprise two one-story, 10,702-square-foot buildings at 7910 and 7954 Baymeadows Way; a three-story, 44,717-square-foot building at 7948 Baymeadows Way; and a three-story, 44,763-square-foot building at 7960 Baymeadows Way.

RAIT Partnership L.P. of Philadelphia issued a $5.4 million mortgage to Bay Meadows RE LLC, led by Michael Kramer of Miami.


Bioteau to headline quarterly JAXUSA meeting

Florida State College at Jacksonville President Cynthia Bioteau will be the keynote speaker at the quarterly JAXUSA Partnership Luncheon on Sept. 22 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

Check-in starts at 11:30 a.m. and the program is noon-1:30 p.m. For cost and other information, call (904) 366-6600, extension 7788, or visit

Bioteau will keynote the third-quarter luncheon. The fourth-quarter event is planned Dec. 16, although no speaker has been listed yet.

[email protected]


(904) 356-2466

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