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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 22, 201905:20 AM EST

St. Johns Town Center preparing expansion with theater, hotel and more

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Fourth phase could include Restoration Hardware, Pinstripes Bowling Bocce Bistro.

Almost 15 years after opening St. Johns Town Center, owners are preparing for a fourth phase at the Southside shopping center that includes a theater, hotel and additional retail space.

A multistory building for Restoration Hardware also is proposed at St. Johns Town Center that could be part of the project. 

Separately, a news report shows that Pinstripes Bowling Bocce Bistro is interested in a Jacksonville location, but no site was specified.

St. Johns Town Center is at northwest Butler Boulevard and Interstate 295. 

Plans show a four-parcel fourth phase, primarily east of True Food Kitchen, J. Alexander’s and the shops that include Tesla, Apple and Urban Outfitters.

Expansion plans for St. Johns Town Center filed with the city show four parcels, one near Nordstrom and three in the southeast corner that is now a parking lot and grassy area.

The phase is south of Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The land primarily is undeveloped or used for parking, although one parcel is an expansion of an existing building. 

Plans show four fourth-phase parcels on 41.02 acres, comprising:

• A 600-seat, 36,000-square-foot theater on Parcel 1, east of Shops V and W, which are the stores generally from Urban Outfitters to Coach. No brand is identified. That size theater is smaller than the new ones in the area, such as the 1,348-seat, 14-screen, 55,428-square-foot Cinemark planned at Kernan and Atlantic boulevards. Smaller specialty theaters tend to focus on the upscale dinner-and-a-movie concept with luxury seating.

• A 43,000-square-foot building on Parcel 2, south of the theater and east of the restaurants and the Tesla building. Its tenant use – retail or entertainment – was not specified.

• A 118-room, 72,000-square-foot hotel on Parcel 3 in front of the Uptown at St. Johns apartments at 5290 Big Island Drive. No hotel brand is identified.

• A 15,300-square-foot addition to a 14,700-square-foot building near Nordstrom Inc.

There also appears to be space remaining for surface parking.

Eventual designs would show if each parcel also would contain parking spaces for customers.

Potential tenants

Two prospective tenants have surfaced.

While not named in the plans, Restoration Hardware at St. Johns Town Center was identified in a JEA service availability request.

England-Thims & Miller is the agent for that query, described as a multistory, 43,000-square-foot building with adjacent parking.

Restoration Hardware, known as RH, has been looking at Jacksonville for a smaller store, so it’s not clear if it would use the entire building or whether other tenants would lease there.

In December, RH’s CEO mentioned Jacksonville as a “target secondary market” for a new concept of smaller Design Gallery stores.

While the typical Design Gallery averages 33,000 square feet, CEO Gary Friedman said in a letter to shareholders accompanying an earnings report that RH is working on a new concept for secondary markets with 10,000- to 18,000-square-foot stores.

“We believe these smaller expressions of our brand will enable us to gain share in markets currently only served by smaller competitors,” he said.

RH operated an outlet store for about three years at The Shoppes at Southside at 9950 Southside Blvd., north of The Avenues mall, closing it early this year.

Pinstripes, an entertainment venue featuring bowling and bocce, opened last year in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Pinstripes has 11 locations, mainly in the Midwest, with three more planned. None are in Florida.

The Pinstripes Bowling Bocce Bistro is another possible tenant at St. Johns Town Center. 

In May, the South Florida Business Journal reported that Pinstripes CEO and founder Dale Schwartz said the company will open its first Florida location next summer in 30,000 square feet in Aventura.

The report said Schwartz was in talks to open in Jacksonville and Orlando and was close to completing deals for locations in Coral Gables and Tampa.

Pinstripes, based in Northbrook, Illinois, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Simon Property Group Inc., which owns a 50% share in St. Johns Town Center, said in its 2018 annual report that the center was almost 99% leased.

Simon representatives were unavailable Wednesday to comment.

On behalf of the center’s ownership, civil engineer England-Thims & Miller Inc. applied for conditional capacity availability statements for the fourth phase, which the city issued Aug. 14.

Engineer Jeffrey Crammond, a traffic engineer with England-Thims & Miller Inc., submitted the CCAS applications.

“They’re moving forward with some additional parcels,” he said.

He said the developers must meet parking requirements.

Warby Parker is one of the newest tenants at St. Johns Town Center.

Magnet for new retailers

St. Johns Town Center brought many new retailers to Jacksonville, including Nordstrom, Microsoft, The Cheesecake Factory and The Capital Grille, and more recently, Lilly Pulitzer and Warby Parker.

The 207-acre St. Johns Town Center opened in 2005 with many well-known retailers already represented in the market, including a prototype Dillard’s department store, and the area’s first Apple store. 

The initial phase included Target, Staples and Ashley Furniture HomeStore.

It added a second phase in 2007, just before the 2007-09 recession. That phase brought in upscale retailers, like Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Coach.

Seattle-based Nordstrom opened a two-level, 124,000-square-foot department store in October 2014 as the anchor of the third phase.

The St. Johns Town Center regional “main street” and lifestyle center has grown to 1.4 million square feet of retail and restaurant space.  News releases show it features 11 anchor stores and more than 175 brand-name specialty stores, along with the park green and a courtyard.

The center was developed on Skinner family land and owned 50-50 by Atlanta-based Ben Carter Properties and Simon Property Group of Indianapolis.

The Carter group sold its 50 percent ownership in June 2014 to Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management’s Real Estate Investment Group for a reported $375 million. 

Carrie Smith, managing director of the Franklin Street real estate company, said the potential expansion reflects the health of the trade area around St. Johns Town Center.

“Simon knows what kind of volume their current client base is doing at Town Center. It continues to speak about the kind of strength the St. Johns Town Center has in our market,” she said.

Growth catalyst

St. Johns Town Center spawned more nearby shopping centers, apartments, hotels and entertainment, like Topgolf and the iFly Indoor Skydiving center.

Adjacent or across the street are The Markets at Town Center, St. John’s Town Center North, The Crossing and The Strand at Town Center and Town Center Promenade. South along Gate Parkway is Gateway Village at Town Center. Not far from that is Ikea.

All of those are completed or about to be.

And there’s more.

Nearby, at southeast Butler Boulevard and I-295, Fuqua Development Principal Jeff Fuqua announced in March that he proposes a $300 million mixed-use project called the Exchange at Jacksonville.

Atlanta-based Fuqua Development plans to develop the 67-acre retail, entertainment, hotel, office and apartment center on land it has under contract from the Skinner family.

Plans unveiled in March showed a CineBistro “dinner-and-a-movie” concept.

Fuqua could not be reached for comment.

The Fuqua development is the retail center of 1,063 acres owned by the Skinners, the last large parcel of land that the Skinners own.

The overall site is designed for residential neighborhoods, a village center and regional office and commercial uses.

The property has been owned by the Skinners since the late 1880s for agricultural uses such as silviculture, cattle grazing and hunting.

It is part of the original 50,000 acres that have been divided among generations of family members.

The expansion plans for St. Johns Town Center are mainly in the southeast corner of the shopping center.

 

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