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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 25, 201312:00 PM EST

Railex on track for $106M Jacksonville project


Railex LLC is taking steps to develop a 250,000-square-foot cold-storage warehouse-distribution center in South Jacksonville that should employ 310 people in five years.

The Riverhead, N.Y.-based rail service negotiated $8.8 million in city and state incentives to develop the $105.7 million project along Philips Highway.

Railex serves food, beverage, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries.

Florida East Coast Railway owns the property at 6140 Philips Highway. Almond Engineering is the agent. A city mobility fee calculation certificate approved Sept. 11 shows a fee of $86,930 for the project.

Plans show that undeveloped property along Philips Highway, an industrial and business corridor that stretches south of downtown to St. Augustine, is the site of the project.

The application states that Railex will develop the cold-storage warehouse on 17.85 acres of vacant land zoned for heavy industrial use.

A site plan shows the warehouse is designed for Hansen-Rice Inc., which is a national design-build general contracting firm based in Idaho.

The city approved the incentives in May. The state is reviewing its portion.

A project summary filed with the city says Railex proposes to buy an 18-acre trace of undeveloped rail-spur property along Philips Highway adjacent to the Florida East Coast Railway marshaling yard. Philips Highway is U.S. 1.

It's a large project. Railex proposes to build a 225,000-square-foot multimodal center to warehouse and distribute refrigerated freight. It would be served by spur rail and support yard rail to handle 40-85 car unit trains within a 24-hour period.

It's also a big investment. Railex expects a $105.7 million development cost comprising $2.3 million for land acquisition, $34.8 million in building construction, $1.7 million in manufacturing and packaging equipment, $6.2 million for warehouse equipment, racking and technology infrastructure, $700,000 in furniture and fixtures and $60 million for refrigerated rail cars and intermodal trailers.

And it pledges to generate a significant number of jobs at an average wage of $47,851.

Railex says it will create 200 jobs by the end of 2014 and another 15 during 2015; 35 in 2016; 30 in 2017; and the final 30, to reach the pledged 310 jobs, by the end of 2018. In return, the city and state promised almost $9 million in tax incentives.

Of the incentives, the city would pay $1.94 million, comprising $341,000 through the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program, with a brownfield bonus, along with $1.6 million for a REV grant, which is repaid from the increased taxes resulting from the increases in real and tangible property taxes resulting from the improvements.

The state would pay $6.83 million, comprising $1.36 million in QTI payments, $5 million in an Economic Development Transportation Fund grant and $465,000 in workforce assistance.

At a May 7 council Finance Committee meeting, Railex executive Paul Esposito said the company has looked at locations throughout Florida and Georgia, but that Jacksonville has "set itself apart as far as a logistics hub," citing its port, rail and road infrastructure.

The facility will be the company's fourth logistics center, joining those in Delano, Calif.; Wallula, Wash.; and Schenectady, N.Y.

Project Amazon

Yes, there is a "Project Amazon." No, it does not appear to be linked to an Internet retailing fulfillment center.

The Northrop Grumman aerospace manufacturing expansion in St. Augustine carried the "Project Amazon" name, according to documents filed with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Meanwhile, the state has not commented further about plans or sites to accommodate's announced plans to invest $300 million and create 3,000 jobs in the state by the end of 2016.

'State of the city' set for Nov. 1

While the event name and speaker list continue to be determined, the JAX Chamber is working on a Nov. 1 event designed to present a "state of the city" update, although it probably won't be called that.

What we do know is that it's scheduled for noon Nov. 1 at the Hyatt Downtown. It will feature City Council President Bill Gulliford, Duval County School Board Chair Fel Lee and Duval Legislative Delegation Chair Charles McBurney, the state representative for District 16.

Mayor Alvin Brown is expected to make remarks.

For information, visit

'Jeannie' Barbara Eden cast at Alhambra

Barbara Eden, star of the 1965-70 TV comedy "I Dream of Jeannie," is scheduled to star in "Social Security" during the 2014 season at Alhambra Theatre & Dining. The comedy is set for May 7-June 8.

Eden, 82, has headlined in Jacksonville before.

She visited Jacksonville in January 1996 to serve as mistress of ceremonies at the "You're ONE in a MILLION" event to mark the five-county area reaching a million in population. The event was sponsored by Jacksonville-based Barnett Bank, which has since been merged into Bank of America.

Diocese of St. Augustine plans St. Johns parish

The Diocese of St. Augustine filed plans with the St. Johns River Water Management District for a 15,611-square-foot early-learning center, with expansion capability, on 5 acres at 2344 County Road 210 in St. Johns County.

The Diocese says the center is scheduled to open in 2014. It is designed to accommodate about 175 children and will have about 25 employees.

EnVision Design & Engineering LLC is the civil engineer and Kaspar Architecture is the architect.

The Diocese says it is the first phase of a master-planned parish that will eventually include a church, parish hall, convent and office.

The application says the Diocese owns 15 acres. The site is along County Road 210 at Richard Glen Drive/Trail Road.

Child care centers planned near Mayo Clinic, Oakleaf

• Growing Room Child Development Centers, which already has opened in the Bartram Park area, plans an almost 15,000-square-foot location near Mayo Clinic Florida. The city and the St. Johns River Water Management District are reviewing plans for a 14,632-square-foot child-development center on 2 acres at 14146 Marsh Woods Court in the Pablo Professional Park. Tocoi Engineering LLC is the project engineer and Jax GR Land LLC is the client.

• The Learning Experience filed a permit application for a 10,000-square-foot center on 1.2 acres at 220 Oakleaf Village. Hawkins Construction Inc. of Tarpon Springs is shown as the contractor for the $1.2 million project. It's one of eight Learning Experiences opened, underway or planned in the area.

Oakleaf retail planned

An almost 31,000-square-foot retail center is proposed in Southwest Jacksonville along the Argyle Forest extension. The city is reviewing plans for two buildings that comprise 19,000 square feet of non-restaurant space and the remainder for restaurant space. One building is about 22,500 square feet and a second building, at 8,500 square feet, is shown as a restaurant. EnVision Design & Engineering LLC is the civil engineer. The developer is Retail Strategies LLC, whose managing member is Peter Sleiman.

Atlantic North loop road in review

Atlantic North LLC, part of Sleiman Enterprises, proposes to develop a loop road around the Atlantic North development at northwest Atlantic and Kernan boulevards. The property features an LA Fitness, Academy Sports + Outdoors and a 7-Eleven.

DB Civil Works is the project's civil engineer.

It's also the site of a proposed apartment project by Danis Development, which bought 14.4 acres behind the LA Fitness shopping center. City records show a 290-unit apartment project is planned at the site.

Nocatee plans kayak launch

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans for a proposed kayak/canoe launch on 1.2 acres at the northwest end of the Palm Valley Bridge in St. Johns County at the Intracoastal Waterway. Matthews Design Group Inc. of St. Augustine is the agent.

Art & Antiques party set for Friday, Dec. 6

It's not too early to make holiday plans.

The 2013 Art & Antiques Show Opening Night Party, one of the season's biggest social fundraisers, is scheduled Friday, Dec. 6. Usually it's on Thursday night, but there is a scheduling conflict with a Jacksonville Jaguars game.

The event begins with a 6:30 p.m. benefactor reception and the party starts at 7:30 p.m., all at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

Benefiting Wolfson Children's Hospital, the annual event kicks off the three-day show, which runs through Dec. 8 this year.

It's presented by The Women's Board of Wolfson Children's Hospital.

The event was created by Ellen Cavert and her husband, Tillman, after their granddaughter died because of the lack of proper equipment. They decided to raise funds for the hospital and have continued to do so.

The Caverts were a fixture at each party, but this year's event will no doubt honor Tillman Cavert, who died in April at the age of 96.

Another fundraiser presented by the board is the Florida Forum, which starts the 2013-14 season with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Oct. 16 at The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. The forum begins at 7:30 p.m.

Author Michael Lewis is scheduled Nov. 12 and the season concludes Jan. 16 with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Those events begin at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the annual Children's Fashion Show is scheduled at 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Munnerlyn Center.

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