Residents continue to ask: What’s up with East San Marco and when are we going to get our Publix?
“Things are still moving forward with ESM, just nothing specific to update with just yet,” said developer Regency Centers Corp. spokesman Eric Davidson, senior manager of communications.
“Still the same,” said Publix Super Markets Inc. spokesman Dwaine Stevens, media and community relations manager for the Jacksonville division.
By that, he means what he has been saying for some time: Publix remains committed to the project.
The site is at Hendricks and Atlantic boulevards in San Marco. With the potential project now 17 years in the making, the land remains vacant at 1532 Atlantic Blvd. and signs continue to announce its upcoming presence.
The site is on the eastern edge of the historic San Marco Square neighborhood shopping district.
East San Marco had been envisioned as a retail and multifamily development. The city approved it, but the deal broke apart.
In April, Regency Centers Corp. Chairman and CEO Martin E. “Hap” Stein said the project will be just Publix and shops and restaurants, not apartments.
City Council member Lori Boyer, whose district includes the site, said Monday she can confirm the plan is to proceed with the grocery store in the commercial space only with no residential component.
She said that means the approved planned unit development likely will need to be changed.
“There would probably be a PUD modification coming forward at some point when they get the design finished, but I don’t think that’s been confirmed,” she said.
Boyer said the neighborhood wanted two elements: The Publix grocery store, which drove the neighborhood support, and condominiums. The project ended up as apartments.
“I don’t think there is going to be great concern about the loss of the apartments. Although from a density perspective and viability of some of the businesses in the square, that would have been helpful,” she said.
In April, Stein said East San Marco as a shopping center “will be a very positive addition to a great neighborhood in the San Marco area.”
He said Regency Centers would develop, own and manage an estimated 50,000 square feet of retail space comprising the 30,000-square-foot Publix and about 20,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.
At the time, Publix had been committed for more than 10 years.
“Our position hasn’t altered since we signed the lease over a decade ago and remain committed to the project,” Stevens said in April.
East San Marco has been a development topic since 2002. It most recently was planned for a more than $60 million project to include retail space, parking garages and 266 apartment and townhouse units.
The developer ended its involvement just before the scheduled March 6, 2017, closing to buy the property from Regency Centers.
It had intended to buy the land, develop the project and sell the retail space to Regency Centers.
Regency Centers said it would continue the retail project.