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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jun. 28, 201805:00 AM EST

What's Trending: Investors now embracing Downtown redevelopment

And it’s not just Jacksonville residents realizing its potential.

A trend is developing Downtown concerning ownership.

More people want in on it.

David Cawton reports today about a significant set of acquisitions in Brooklyn, which is part of Downtown for development purposes. Those making the purchases for the unidentified buyer aren’t saying what will happen – but it’s apparent that they’re banking on redevelopment.

Also, operators of Team Market Group in Orlando paid more than $1 million for two 100-year-old-plus  buildings along East Forsyth Street for development of nightlife and possibly housing.

A Team Market Group owner said the group bought the 2,000- and 12,000-square-foot buildings along East Forsyth Street, next to the Florida Theatre, because “We believe in the Downtown district and want to be part of its growth.” He said they are looking for more opportunities.

The seller of the larger 120 E. Forsyth St. site, which will become a second-floor speakeasy lounge with first-floor potential for another Orlando concept, said the sale makes another point.

Jacksonville public affairs consultant Mike Langton said it shows him, after four years of ownership, that people from outside Jacksonville “understand the potential of Downtown Jacksonville where some in the city don’t get it.”

High-rises also are attracting interest.

Jacksonville-based VyStar Credit Union intends to buy the 23-story SunTrust Tower. VyStar President/CEO Brian Wolfburg chose the site for the credit union’s headquarters, which will relocate from Blanding Boulevard, because it was the most economical option. 

He said the choice to buy a building rather than develop a suburban campus will allow VyStar to improve the workplace for the 700 jobs it will move Downtown, “truly making it the best choice for our members.”

 And Ash Properties, also based in Jacksonville, is the high bidder, at $23.3 million, for the 18-floor BB&T Tower.

Ash Properties COO Randall Whitfield said the real estate group has been interested in the Downtown office market. “We want to take full advantage of that to participate Downtown and do our part for Jacksonville,” he said.

So far, none of the buyers of the four sets of sales mentioned requested taxpayer incentives to make their moves, although that doesn’t mean they won’t seek assistance as they pursue development.

We could go on about other buildings Downtown, as well as interest by local investors in more property, but the reason for the transactions is encouraging for those waiting for redevelopment.

It’s for the opportunity to get in on ground floor of what’s coming and in these instances, on the Northbank in or near the historically struggling urban core.

The purchases show there is interest, desire and money to make calculated investment risks Downtown and that the buyers consider Downtown to be the place, and now to be the time.


Duluth Trading Co. planning store at River City Marketplace

Duluth Trading Co., the casual and workwear clothing company whose quirky animated ads tout its Buck Naked underwear and Fire Hose pants, is planning its first Florida store at River City Marketplace. Belleville, Wisconsin-based Duluth Holdings Inc. wants to occupy a new 14,560-square-foot building at 13000 City Station Drive. The property is along Interstate 95 on the west side of the Regal River City Marketplace Stadium 14 movie theater.  

Gas Stations

Buc-ee’s advances plans for store 

Buc-ee’s, the Texas-based (and Texas-sized) convenience store, submitted site engineering plans to St. Johns County and the St. Johns River Water Management District for development of its 13.71-acre site at 655 World Commerce Parkway southwest of the Interstate 95 and International Golf Parkway interchange. Plans indicate a 53,254-square-foot, single-story building with 104 fueling stations and 392 parking spaces.

Grocery Stores

Walmart Neighborhood Market opens

The first Walmart Neighborhood Market built from the ground up in Jacksonville opened Wednesday at 9550 Baymeadows Road. It’s the return of a grocery store to a shopping center that more than a decade ago held a Food Lion. The store is competition for Publix across the street. A nearby Winn-Dixie store closed in the the spring when Southeastern Grocers filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.


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