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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Mar. 26, 201903:40 AM EST

Roosevelt Square owner seeks permits for Ortega Park revamp

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Plan will transform shopping center with new retail buildings, a plaza called “Ortega Alley” and more.

Roosevelt Square, built 58 years ago as an enclosed shopping mall, is heading into its third redevelopment under the 22-year ownership of Atlanta-based Dewberry Group.

It includes a new name – Ortega Park – along with an expansion of retail stores, the addition of apartments and renovations to the existing center.

Dewberry has applied for five permits to build or renovate buildings at the center, including adding a 24,077-square-foot retail center to launch “Ortega Alley,” a retail plaza in the area anchored by Metro Diner and Chase Bank.

Roosevelt Square is at 4495 Roosevelt Blvd. in West Jacksonville.

No contractors are listed on the permits, which total $7.15 million in construction costs. David Ware AIA Architect is the project architect.

The permits call for four new retail buildings – Building C at 4,565 square feet, Building D at 4,703 square feet, Building G at 11,667 square feet and Building F, the 24,077-square-foot structure.

Building E will be renovated and partially demolished as part of the retail alley project.

Renderings of the the redeveloped Roosevelt Square show the five buildings for which the developer sought building permits. Also shown at the top right is a planned multifamily building.

The largest new building is designed in the parking lot in front of Metro Diner, creating the retail alley that will link to another set of buildings, including Building E. A rendering posted on-site indicates the restaurant will remain in its current space.

Dewberry bought the mall in 1997 and redeveloped it into a 300,000 square-foot open-air retail and lifestyle hub. 

It “de-malled” it by taking down most of the center and redeveloped the property with buildings and strip centers with exterior entrances, completing the first phase of redevelopment in 1999 and a second phase in 2003.

Belk closed there in January 2017 and the building was demolished, leaving space that will be used in the redevelopment.

This year’s renovation will result in a new look for the center as well as the new name. Facades already are upgraded, new retail anchor Ulta Beauty has opened next to Stein Mart and more retail storefronts have been built behind the Stein Mart and Ulta building.

The dewberrygroup.com site says Ortega Park will grow to nearly 700,000 square feet and include upscale shopping, dining and Class A multifamily “lifestyle experiences.”

“The retail expansion and upgrade will feature Ortega Alley – an expanse of pedestrian engagement befitting the area’s increasingly active culture,” says the website.

Dewberry previously posted signs around the 29-acre Roosevelt Boulevard shopping center that show the renderings.

“All shops open during construction,” according to the signs.

The renderings include existing anchors Stein Mart and Publix Super Markets Inc. and new tenant Ulta Beauty. LongHorn Steakhouse also is shown.

Dewberrygroup.com says the Publix is one of the Lakeland-based chain’s top 10 highest-grossing stores.

The biggest change is what appears to be an apartment complex on the south end of the property near the vacant site where the Belk store was demolished.

“Coming soon: Ortega Park” says one sign, which also shows the logo for “Dewberry Living.”

District 14 City Council member Jim Love said previously the apartments could include a few hundred units.

A sign and rendering shows how the area where Metro Diner will be located in the transformed Roosevelt Square. The shopping center is owned by the Atlanta-based Dewberry Group.

According to Love, Dewberry said it was considering a plan to eliminate a retention pond on-site and build a vault, which is an underground stormwater facility. That provides more space for development.

Dewberry group has not commented about the project, but it appears to be an investment of at least $70 million.

In mid-2017, a life insurance company issued a $68.5 million mortgage to Roosevelt Square Limited Liability Limited Partnership, which is led by John Dewberry, formerly listed as president and CEO of Dewberry Capital and now listed as founder and CEO of Dewberry Group.

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

Redevelopment plans have circulated for years, indicating that some buildings will be redeveloped. 

For example, Metro Diner and Chase Bank are the only tenants in their building, which indicates Dewberry envisions redevelopment of that structure.

Dewberry Group has been in business for 30 years, owns 3 million square feet of real estate and has $1.5 billion of assets under management, according to its website.

It says Ortega Park serves Jacksonville’s “most established and affluent neighborhoods, including Riverside, Avondale and Old Ortega.”

It describes Old Ortega as “Jacksonville’s third nationally recognized historic district in 2010 (featuring) a unique collection of circular and waterfront parks within walking distance of its commercial district and residential areas.”

It continues: “It also boasts a storied past filled with colorful characters, from early Florida cattle cowboys and highwaymen to Gilded Age gangsters.”

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