Florida Baptist Convention building on Hendricks may be redeveloped with housing and retail

The Florida Baptist Convention is slated to sell its San Marco property, above, and intends to buy the Northeast Florida Regional Council's Southpoint building.
The Florida Baptist Convention is slated to sell its San Marco property, above, and intends to buy the Northeast Florida Regional Council's Southpoint building.
  • Columnists
  • Share

San Marco rejuvenation continues as property between the Southbank and the historic neighborhood continues to be attractive to developers.

Next up, property owned by the Florida Baptist Convention Inc. along Hendricks Avenue could be redeveloped with apartments, condominiums and retail space.

Jacksonville-based Block One Ventures is pursuing plans to buy and clear the 3.45-acre site at 1230 Hendricks Ave. to develop a multistory structure with up to 345 residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail and commercial uses.

The first floor would feature restaurant, commercial retail, office and parking space as well as residential units with an amenity center, courtyard and pool.

Upper floors would contain parking and residences of studio to multibedroom units.

It would include structured parking and vehicle access at Hendricks Avenue and Naldo Avenue.

The project is described in a rezoning application filed with the city.

Florida Baptist Convention seeks to rezone the site to a planned unit development. It also requests a land use amendment.

The building would be seven stories.

Block One Ventures Senior Vice President Christian Oldenburg said Monday his group was not ready to comment about the plans, although he confirmed the project would be new construction.

The architect and planner is Baker Barrios Architects Inc. and the engineer is England-Thims & Miller Inc.

The land use would change from Community/General Commercial to High Density Residential and the zoning would change from Commercial Community/General-1 to Residential High Density.

The project has a clearer path as Florida Baptist Convention prepares to buy a Southpoint area building at 6850 Belfort Oaks Place this week from the Northeast Florida Regional Council.

Barbara Denman, director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention, said the organization hopes to move its corporate offices and about 30 employees to the Belfort site in February or March.

She said a lot of the organization’s employees are based regionally across Florida.

Denman said the Florida Baptist Convention was looking for a location close to highways because its staff travels a lot. It also wanted a smaller space with the potential for expansion.

The Belfort location is near Interstate 95.

As a result, Downtown gained another tenant Monday as the council moved into the WJCT Studios at 100 Festival Park Ave.

Council CEO Brian Teeple said 10 employees of the regional council are relocating to 3,700 square feet on the first floor at WJCT, joining several other nonprofits in the building.

The council paid $2.2 million for the Southpoint building 15 years ago, according to Duval County property records, and has been operating there since.

Denman and Teeple declined to provide the contracted sale price on the property, which is assessed for tax purposes at $2.42 million, according to the 2017 assessment in progress.

The two-story, 28,586-square-foot structure was built in 1990 and sits on 3.5 acres. Teeple said the few remaining tenants there have moved.

The Florida Baptist Convention announced in the spring it had a contract on the San Marco property with a prospective buyer. The contract is expected to close in spring 2017.

The Baptist Building is on a full city block near the Downtown Southbank along the St. Johns River. It is bordered by Nira and Naldo streets and the Interstate 95 service road, formerly Gary Street.

No specific contract price has been revealed for that transaction, either.

Property records show Florida Baptist Convention owns six parcels that collectively are assessed at $6.2 million. The main building is about 50,000 square feet and five stories.

Land-use attorney Steve Diebenow represents the contractual buyer, whom he would not identify Monday.

Diebenow said he hopes the land-use amendment and property rezoning are approved in the first quarter, after which the new owner would proceed.

When the convention’s State Board of Missions approved the contract, it called for 51 percent of the sale proceeds to be directed to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program for worldwide mission causes.

Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, said then that Florida Baptists and their churches sacrificially gave their Cooperative Program gifts and donations to build the San Marco area building “many years ago.”

“We owe it to Florida Baptists to use this as missions money,” he said.

In a report on the Florida Baptist Convention website, Brian Moulder, then with the CBRE Group Inc. commercial real estate firm, told the board in April the buyer has developed other properties in Jacksonville “and has good credibility with working with city officials.”

The sale was expected to be completed by year-end, followed immediately by construction, although CBRE said the sale now is expected early in 2017.

CBRE First Vice President Bobby Gatling is marketing the site with Moulder.

“The timing was right due to developers currently having strong interest for larger parcels in infill locations, such as the San Marco area of Jacksonville,” he said.

Hendricks Avenue links the Southbank of the St. Johns River to the San Marco Square area, where the planned East San Marco mixed-use project should start development in the spring at Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

Gatling said the area is trending, with restaurant, hotel, apartment, medical and other projects developed, planned or underway.

Gatling said he and Moulder represent Florida Baptist Convention in the sale of its location and as its agent in the acquisition of the Regional Planning Council site. Moulder now is with Walker & Dunlop Inc.

CBRE Senior Vice President Lou Nutter represents the Northeast Florida Planning Council as the seller.

Florida Baptist Convention’s website offered some building history. Construction began in 1958 and was completed in 1960. The 50,000-square-foot building has five floors and a basement.

The original cost of the building, $934,017, included the purchase of land, construction, architects’ fees and furnishings, the report said.

Additional costs incurred over the next five decades to buy the entire block, build more structures and make capital improvements totaled more than $5 million.

The block consists of the original Baptist Building, a building that houses the offices of the Florida Baptist Financial Services and the Florida Baptist Credit Union, a metal storage building and a building at times used for theological education classes and as a recording studio, according to the website.

The Florida Baptist Witness leases space on the fifth floor of the Baptist Building, it said. Denman said the Witness will move to the Belfort offices.

Block One Ventures was formed a year ago and is led by Oldenburg and Chris Ruen, a vice president of development and construction.

Oldenburg is senior vice president of real estate operations. He and Ruen are former Regency Centers Corp. executives.

They also are developing The Point at Town Center luxury apartment complex near St. Johns Town Center.

[email protected]


(904) 356-2466