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Plans show that the shuttered Belk store at the Roosevelt Square Mall will be torn down along with a nearby building now leased by Metro Diner and Chase Bank. A new shopping center will then be built at the site.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 2, 201712:00 PM EST

Plans reveal PetSmart is slated for redeveloped Roosevelt Square


Roosevelt Square continues work toward a substantial redevelopment that could add PetSmart, according to a mortgage document and supported by site plans.

A mortgage agreement signed and recorded in May shows that owner and developer Dewberry Capital intends to add PetSmart Inc. and retain existing anchors Publix Super Markets Inc. and Stein Mart Inc. as it renovates the West Jacksonville shopping center.

Protective Life Insurance Co. issued a $68.5 million mortgage to property owner Roosevelt Square Limited Liability Limited Partnership, which is led by John Dewberry, president and CEO of Dewberry Capital. The loan matures in five years.

The mortgage and security agreement and fixture filing states the value of the center at almost $70 million.

Executives with Dewberry, based in Atlanta, have not returned calls for comment. Dewberry bought the former enclosed Roosevelt Mall almost 20 years ago and “de-malled” it into an open-air retail center.

Roosevelt Square operates on 29 acres along Roosevelt Boulevard, bordered by San Juan Avenue to the north and Wabash Avenue to the south.

“They are looking at some pretty heavy-duty dollars to refresh it. It is in the multimillions, I can tell you that,” said District 14 City Council member Jim Love.

Love said Thursday a Dewberry representative talked with him about a project that included about 300 apartments, although that proposed master plan was dated Sept. 18.

That plan also shows two new anchor stores near Publix — one apparently at 35,000 square feet for Stein Mart and another 18,000-square-foot space that could accommodate PetSmart.

The plan also outlines an increase in retail space to almost 354,300 square feet. Property records show a current total square footage of about 300,000 square feet, although some site plans show it as less.

Love noted that developers often change designs and strategies and that he hasn’t spoken with Dewberry in several months, which means the 8-month-old proposed master plan could be outdated.

He said previously the developer probably will need to request rezoning for some of the elements.

“They need to do something and they are trying to work that out,” he said, adding that mixed-use to include apartments would be significant.

One of the anchor tenants is preparing for a new lease.

Linda Tasseff, Stein Mart director of investor relations, said Thursday the retailer is close to finalizing a lease deal, but said she could not provide details.

She said previously that the company intended to stay in the center, although the existing 46,000-square-foot store it occupies is larger than its typical footprint of 32,000 to 35,000 square feet. That indicates it could move to the space proposed near Publix.

A Publix spokesman said he had no information about a Roosevelt Square master plan.

A PetSmart spokewoman said a store will open this fall in Mandarin, but did not address a Roosevelt Square location.

In another step toward the redevelopment, the St. Johns River Water Management District issued a permit March 15 to authorize a stormwater management system at Roosevelt Square. The permit is for 5.2 acres at the southeast corner of the site.

Plans filed with the district specify the former Belk store on that part of the site would be removed and other storefronts would be built. Belk closed in January.

Entryways at the southern end of the site also will be reworked.

Love said the last time the center was refreshed was about 20 years ago by Dewberry Capital.

When the company bought the former enclosed Roosevelt Mall in 1998, it took down most of the enclosed mall and developed buildings and strip centers with exterior entrances.

It completed the first phase of redevelopment in 1999 and a final phase in 2003.

The project engineer continues to be Mark Dowst & Associates Inc.

Dowst did not return a telephone call Thursday.

The Water Management District explained that plans show the developer will take down the former Belk store and replace a nearby building where Metro Diner and Chase Bank are leasing. A new, larger center will be built at the site.

The former Belk store is 63,000 square feet.

Metro Diner owner/operator John Davoli Jr. said in March that while plans were not finalized, Chase Bank and Metro Diner would stay while the remainder of the building they lease would be increased in size.

A JPMorgan Chase spokesman said then that the bank will remain open during construction because the corner it occupies would not be part of the demolition.

Previously circulated site plans from April 2016 showed yet another configuration that predated the September proposal.

Roosevelt Mall, as it was initially called, was built in 1961. Dewberry Capital says on its website that when it bought the property in 1997, Roosevelt Mall was under “highly distressed circumstances.”

Dewberry converted the mall in phases into an open-air lifestyle center, anchored by Publix and Stein Mart, along with many more tenants.

The Belk building, then a Gayfers store, was converted into a standalone retailer. A new Publix was built and the former one renovated for Stein Mart.

Dewberry says on its site that its revitalization efforts had a dramatic impact on the surrounding community.

That includes the established neighborhoods of Riverside, Avondale and Ortega, which are some of the area’s most affluent areas.

It also says the Publix there is one of the highest-grossing stores in the chain.

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