Union Terminal Warehouse work can begin

The city issued a permit for Columbia Ventures to start selective demolition at the Eastside area property.

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Interior work can begin at the historic Union Terminal Warehouse at 700 E. Union St. in the Eastside area not far from TIAA Bank Field.

The city issued a permit Jan. 6 for WPC – Winter Park Construction – to perform the $2.7 million demolition and concrete restoration of the four-story, 365,434-square-foot building for mixed uses.

Atlanta-based Columbia Ventures LLC intends to convert the structure into apartments through adaptive reuse and a historic tax credit conversion.

The demolition is for a project that involves the remodeling of the warehouse built in 1913. 

Columbia Ventures partner Jakob von Trapp said in an email May 5 his group filed for a partial interior repair and demolition permit “simply to make initial repairs to the interior of the building in preparation for our planned adaptive re-use of the building.”

COVID-19 is a determining factor on timing, he said then.

“In light of the uncertainty in the capital and real estate markets that the global pandemic has created, it would be irresponsible for us to speculate on exact timing and program for our proposed adaptive re-use,” von Trapp said.

Plans say the original windows have been replaced but the majority of the existing historic elevators, stairs and canopies exist.

The historic Union Terminal Warehouse at 700 E. Union St. in the Eastside area.
The historic Union Terminal Warehouse at 700 E. Union St. in the Eastside area.

The renovation permit is not part of the demolition plans.

Dasher Hurst Architects of Jacksonville is the architect.

Through East Union Property Owner LLC, Columbia Ventures bought the more than 7-acre property Dec. 3, 2018, for $4.6 million.

Partner Dillon Baynes said then the adaptive reuse could include commercial, retail and residential elements as well as opportunities for dining and entertainment.

“This is a building that after 106 years has some deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed before we do anything else,” he said of the 298,171-square-foot main structure. 

Property records show seven buildings built between 1912 and 1990 at 640-648 E. Union St.

The property is north of the Mathews Bridge ramp and near Hogans Creek.

The main building has been housing creative loft spaces for artists, woodworking, makers and manufacturers. The other buildings have office space, car repair services and leased storage space. 

Baynes said he wants to keep as many of those creative tenants as possible. 

The company obtained a $4.5 million mortgage from the Jacksonville branch of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, through its acquisition predevelopment loan program. 

The property is north of the Mathews Bridge ramp and near Hogans Creek and TIAA Bank Field.
The property is north of the Mathews Bridge ramp and near Hogans Creek and TIAA Bank Field.

Baynes said he would pursue federal historic tax credits to help offset construction costs. He said residential won’t be the primary use for the main building but that workforce housing will be included. 

Columbia Ventures is affiliated with the Atlanta-based housing development and property management firm Columbia Residential, which has apartment communities and senior living facilities in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. 

In May 2019, the Jacksonville Planning Commission recommended approval to rezone and amend the land use of the property at 648 E. Union St. for mixed-use development, including residential, commercial and compatible light industrial uses.

Those plans showed the 7.35-acre property included the main warehouse and six more warehouse and office buildings constructed between 1912 and 1990.

 In 1913, owner C.B. Gay declared the Union Terminal Warehouse to be the largest warehouse in Florida.

The main warehouse, which has a basement, is leased for loft space for artists and for manufacturing. The other buildings are used for storage, office, internet auto sales and car repair.

The proposed development includes up to 750,000 square feet of residential and nonresidential uses within the existing or new buildings. The mix allows up to 473 dwelling units.

Proposed nonresidential uses include, for example, retail, offices, galleries, child care, hotel, storage, veterinary, restaurants, nightclubs, breweries, fabrication, churches and pharmacies.

City Council enacted legislation in May 2019 to change the land use designation and to rezone the property for the mixed-use development.

The columbiaven.com site says Columbia Ventures plans its adaptive reuse “as a vibrant mixed-use community, utilizing historic tax credits and opportunity zone equity as key components of the capital stack.”