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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Apr. 23, 202005:10 AM EST

VanTrust Real Estate is ‘taking a long view’

Developer completing Park Place One, Imeson Park industrial building and is working on several more projects during the pandemic.
John Carey

VanTrust Real Estate LLC expects to complete its first Park Place One office building in Nocatee in January as it works with prospects for a 552,000-square-foot industrial center in Imeson Park in North Jacksonville.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based real estate develop company’s Jacksonville office is working on several more projects during the pandemic.

“We are taking a long view,” said John Carey, VanTrust executive vice president. “We are going to keep things going and hope that things return to normal sooner rather than later.”

VanTrust started the four-story, 125,000-square-foot Nocatee office building in March and has no plans to delay construction.

‘“We have some prospects,” Carey said. “It’s full speed ahead.”

He expects completion in January. Brasfield & Gorrie LLC is the general contractor. 

The Park Place at Nocatee office park is designed as 675,000 square feet of Class A space and build-to-suit projects on 60 acres.

The bulk of Nocatee is in St. Johns County, just south of Duval County.

Carey sees office development there as a logical step with office space almost built-out in Flagler Center at the south end of Duval County. 

VanTrust Real Estate LLC is talking with prospects for its 552,000-square-foot industrial building at Imeson Park.

In the 156-acre Imeson Park in North Jacksonville, VanTrust completed a 552,000-square-foot industrial building that could be doubled in size if needed.

“We have had some interesting discussions but nothing is signed or finalized,” Carey said, declining to disclose prospect names.

“There’s good activity there. We would deliver that plus another half-million square feet quickly for a total of a million square feet.”

VanTrust has one more pad in Imeson Park, at northeast North Main Street and Zoo Parkway, for a million square feet of space, either as one building or two.

Carey said the industrial market is active, but companies are discerning. “They’re being very careful about the decisions they are making.”

The industrial market is busy primarily because of one sector. “I think it’s pretty straightforward. It’s all about e-commerce,” Carey said.

Along with internet retailer, a lot of large companies are expanding their e-commerce distribution, he said.

“We participate in a number of calls with market experts to talk about various sectors and clearly the e-commerce distribution side of industrial appears to be the one sector that is poised to continue to grow,” he said.

The office sector may not be as clearly defined. 

Carey said that with social distancing and employees working from home, “nobody knows where the office sector is going to end up.”

Among other VanTrust activities:

• VanTrust is looking at additional land in the Town Center area for office construction. “We still think there are build-to-suit opportunities. Jacksonville as a place for financial institutions to move from a cost-effective standpoint will continue. Jacksonville will continue to benefit from that.”

• VanTrust has 350 acres under contract in Savannah that would accommodate almost 5 million square feet of distribution space to serve the Port of Savannah. Carey hopes to close on the land by year-end.

• In Tampa, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority awarded VanTrust a project to develop the nine-story, 270,000-square-foot Class A SkyCenter One at Tampa International Airport office building. Carey said it should be completed in May 2021.

• VanTrust has about 10 acres under contract in Lake Mary near Orlando for a four-story, 120,000-square-foot office building off Interstate 4.

VanTrust opened a Jacksonville office in January 2016, which Carey and his group leads. He remains a partner with Jacksonville-based Whitehall Realty Partners.

VanTrust built and sold the Town Center One and Two buildings along Gate Parkway for $107.1 million. The sale closed in January.

In July, It sold the 300,000-square-foot Cra-Z-Art building in Imeson Park for $20.1 million.

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