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The old Ford Motor Co. plant. (Photo from metrojacksonville.com.)
Jax Daily Record Friday, Feb. 20, 201512:00 PM EST

Owner of EverBank Center buys former Ford Motor plant in Talleyrand and property at Dames Point

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The former Ford Motor Co. factory under the Mathews Bridge was sold Tuesday to the Miami investor who bought EverBank Center in September.

Amkin Hill Street LLC paid $4.4 million to buy more than 30 acres in the Talleyrand area, including the Ford plant, from Hill Street LLC, according to the Duval Clerk of Court and property records. It bought the property from Whitney Bank, formerly Hancock Bank.

Sonny Redmond, a managing member of the former property owner, Hill Street LLC, said the sale was made in conjunction with Whitney Bank, its lender.

State corporate records show the Amkin LLC’s manager is Ramon Llorens, a developer and investor based in 1450 Brickell in Miami.  Llorens did not immediately return telephone calls.

Redmond deferred to Llorens about any plans for the property, but he did say it would be business as usual for the industrial tenants who lease space in the eight properties that were sold.

The properties are near EverBank Field. “He thinks there is a lot of growth potential here,” Redmond said.

City records show the eight parcels include the former Ford plant at 1900 Wambolt St. The plant’s construction date on property records is 1925, although it’s commonly reported it opened in 1924.

The Ford plant’s 14.6-acre parcel fronts the St. Johns River and includes the 172,229-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse property.

In addition to the Ford site, the other properties are 1841 Wambolt St., 1901 Hill St., 639 and 709 Talleyrand Ave., 1816 Clarkson St., and a parking lot and vacant property along Talleyrand Avenue and on Swift Street.

Redmond said the sale involved 35 acres, including 6 acres of submerged land.

Redmond said the five partners were ready to sell after owning the property for 14 years.

“Someone came in that had the wherewithal to invest money in the property and it was time,” he said.

This week’s announcement by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan also supported the decision, Redmond said. Khan unveiled proposals to redevelop the riverfront Shipyards property not far from the Ford site. Those plans are scheduled to be presented next week to the Downtown Investment Authority.

“It’s all right here aligned together, so I think the future of Jacksonville is around this stadium,” Redmond said.

“Mr. Khan is, I think, a blessing to be here and he’s got the vision and the wherewithal to do some big things for Jacksonville and it is going to impact this whole sports and entertainment district Downtown,” he said.

Redmond said there have been “off and on” discussions with JaxPort about the property’s potential use as a cruise ship terminal. “We’ve just not been able to create a viable corporation that could see that project through,” he said.

Meanwhile, Llorens also bought property at Dames Point in recent days. Amkin Dames Point LLC paid $4.53 million Feb. 13 to buy property from Lafarge North America Inc.

Redmond said the location is near the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility under development at 9600 New Berlin Road and the WesPac Midstream liquefied natural gas manufacturing plant planned at 9225 Dames Point Road.

The LNG plant is next to the Jacksonville Port Authority’s Dames Point Marine Terminal.

Redmond said Llorens’ family is based in Madrid, Spain, and invests around the world. State corporate records show Llorens is the registered agent for at least a dozen Florida entities.

Llorens’ LinkedIn account shows his main interest as EPSA Group, since September 1995. The main business is open pit mining and construction and the other business is real estate investment and asset management of commercial, residential and hospitality property.

In September, Amkin West Bay LLC paid $47.4 million for EverBank Center and a parking garage Downtown.

EPSA of America LLC is the manager of Park Place Holding At Brickell LLC, the holding company for 1450 Brickell, a 35-story Class A tower in Miami.

Redmond told the Daily Record five years ago that the Ford property had been a Downtown landmark since the day it opened in 1924.  For decades, Ford built automobiles at the riverfront factory near the Mathews Bridge.

Later, the structure was used as a distribution center for the automaker, but it has been empty for years.

Redmond said Friday that he and his partners purchased the site because of its location and hopes for a cruise-ship terminal.

 

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@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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