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Mathis Report
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 28, 201904:10 AM EST

The Mathis Report: Freebird Commerce Center a Skynyrd tribute

Scannell Properties says its choice of project name is “a good way to pay homage to a great band.”

Freebird Commerce Center is a relatable name in Northeast Florida for native rock group legend Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1973 worldwide hit.

That made choosing the name a breeze.

Ian MacDonald, development manager for Indianapolis-based Scannell Properties LLC, was mulling a list of names with local real estate brokers Tyler Newman and Jacob Horsley, directors with Cushman & Wakefield.

“One of the two of them came up with it,” MacDonald said.

Ian MacDonald

MacDonald, 33, said he grew up in the Midwest and his father was a Skynyrd fan. The music always was a few steps near on the radio or on the home stereo system. 

“Obviously I am a fan and I didn’t know the history,” he said about Skynryd’s genesis in Northeast Florida.

When he learned more about it, the decision was simple. No need to ask more questions.

“Freebird is a good way to pay homage to a great band,” he said. “We thought it would be a great fit for the project.”

In the industrial real estate industry, many of the same standard names circulate. “We couldn’t pass up a good opportunity to be unique,” he said.

Scannell Properties is a privately held commercial real estate developer and investment company. It has submitted site engineering plans for two speculative distribution warehouses with the city Planning and Development Department.

MacDonald estimates the Jacksonville investment at $19 million, including the cost of the land purchase.

The city calculated a mobility fee of $118,456 to mitigate the traffic impact of a two-building, 273,890-square-foot warehouse project on 18.76 undeveloped acres at 14241 Duval Road in North Jacksonville.

The property is at southwest Airport Road and Interstate 95. The site is north of I-295.

Scannell Properties #335 LLC bought the property in December for $1.63 million from the Higginbotham Land Trust. 

Cooper Construction of Birmingham, Alabama, is the contractor. Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. is the civil engineer.

Plans show two buildings – one at 156,000 square feet and another at 117,890 square feet.

MacDonald said Scannell plans to break ground in May on the 156,000-square-foot building for completion by year-end. It can accommodate up to four tenants.

An aerial map shows where Scannell Properties wants to develop Freebird Commerce Center.

Work could start on the 117,890-square-foot building by the end of 2019 for completion in the first quarter of 2020. That structure is designed for up to three tenants.

MacDonald said no tenants are signed but there are “active users looking at the project and we are chasing deals as they come into the market.”

He said Jacksonville’s industrial market, experiencing record low vacancy rates, drew the interest of the company. Scannell saw a market for Class A product.

“We’ve been looking and trying to get a land position in the Jacksonville market for a couple of years,” he said. 

MacDonald said Jacksonville’s market has experienced a focus on build-to-suit projects, in which a tenant agrees to lease a structure that is completed specifically for its needs.

That opened up the opportunity to build speculative buildings so that tenants needing space quickly had options.

MacDonald said Jacksonville’s deep-water port is a strong reason for interest by tenants in the shipping and distribution industries.

Scannell does not have immediate plans for more Jacksonville development, but remains on the hunt. “We are keeping a pulse on the market for any other land opportunities as they become available,” MacDonald said.

A good question will be: what’s its name?

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