The Block Jax bringing food vendors, children’s games and Kanine Social to Gate Parkway

Led by dog park founder Daniel Moffatt, the group bought 2.5 acres for the $8.5 million project to be completed by year-end 2024.

The entrance to Block Jax, whose tagline is Food. Family. Fun., is planned at southeast Gate Parkway and Village Crossing Drive.
The entrance to Block Jax, whose tagline is Food. Family. Fun., is planned at southeast Gate Parkway and Village Crossing Drive.
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The creator and founder Kanine Social, Jacksonville’s first dog park and bar in the Brooklyn area of Downtown, has another idea.

This one involves an outdoor food hall, live music venue and play park for children, next to a new Kanine Social along Gate Parkway.

Kanine Social founder Daniel Moffatt is launching The Block Jax, whose tagline is"Food. Family. Fun." Admission will be free.

“We had a lot of customers who were young and they only had dogs and then a couple of years later, they end up having kids and they no longer could come to Kanine Social because you can’t have kids running around in a dog park. It just doesn’t work,” Moffatt said Dec. 12.

Megan and Daniel Moffatt with Matthew, 21 months, Henry, 3, and Audrey, 6. The Moffatts are partners with Kanine Social and The Block Jacksonville.

What will work, he expects, is The Block Jax, which he and partners, including his wife, Megan, are developing on a 2.5-acre site they bought in November at the entrance to Southside Quarter at southeast Gate Parkway and Village Crossing Drive.

The site is at southwest Interstate 295 and Butler Boulevard. 

Project features

The Block Jax will comprise a covered outdoor food hall with eight vendors, a craft beer bar, a fenced-in children’s play area called Kids on the Block, a 30-foot-wide LED video wall for football games and movies, and other amenities, including lawn and arcade games and a golf simulator.

“People will be able to come sit down, spend an afternoon with their family and friends, kids can run in the play area, dogs can run in Kanine Social’s private dog park,” Moffatt said.

The Block Jax will comprise a covered outdoor food hall with eight vendors, a craft beer bar, a fenced-in children’s play area called Kids on the Block, a 30-foot-wide LED wall for football games and movies, and other amenities, including lawn and arcade games and a golf simulator.

Next to The Block Jax will be his second Kanine Social dog park, day care and boarding center.

Dogs will be allowed on leash at The Block Jax, but access to Kanine Social’s private dog park will require a membership.

“What we’re doing as a society, unfortunately, is spending so much time on our phone. Hopefully, what we’ll be providing with The Block Jax is a place for family to come out and get together and have a good time and connect more with family and friends in person than what we do right now,” Moffatt said.

“That’s our goal with The Block. It’s a place for everybody to just come and enjoy and spend some time together.”

The covered area is shaded and protected from rain. Vendors and a bar area are lined on each side of that area with seating in the center facing a stage for community events and a video screen to show games, movies and entertainment. A mezzanine provides more seating.

“In the winter months, by 5:30 it’s dark,” Moffatt said. “We will have lights in the play areas. Kids can come and run and play; parents can get some dinner, take the kids home and they’ll be worn out before bed.”

A covered area facing a stage for community events and an LED screen to show games, movies and entertainment are part of plans for The Block Jax.

“Just thinking through all the things that I do on a daily basis with three is part of the inspiration for that.”

Moffatt, a 37-year-old father of three children up to the age of 6, said the plan is “to be a little bit different than your typical playground.”

“We’re trying to do something that we haven’t seen in Jacksonville, which is create some hills and tunnels and some play equipment that’s accessible for everybody and different than your typical playground with swings and slides,” he said.

The family fun area at The Block Jax. The project is next to a next to a new Kanine Social along Gate Parkway.

“We’re creating natural slides by creating a few big hills and tunnels for kids to play, and we’re going to do life-size Candy Land and life-size Chutes and Ladders-type games on the turf,” he said.

“Again, just something different. You know, it brings back some of the childhood memories for folks that are my age and they want to play with their kids rather than just pushing them on a swing set, checking their phone.”

The investment

Moffatt estimates it will be an $8.5 million project.

The city is reviewing civil engineering plans that were submitted Dec. 12. Moffatt expects site work could start in early 2024 with project completion by year-end.

“This time next year, fourth quarter 2024, is what we’re shooting for,” he said.

The project plans are well in place, with paperwork filed in January this year.

The Block Jax is planned on this 2.5-acre site at entrance to Southside Quarter at southeast Gate Parkway and Village Crossing Drive.

Moffatt registered Kanine Social Gate Parkway LLC with the state on Jan. 30 and The Block Jacksonville LLC on Aug. 18.

Also Jan. 30, he registered Containerland RE Holdings LLC, which paid $2.25 million for the property Nov. 21. It bought the land from S-15 Land Holdings LLC, part of Hines.

Community First Credit Union of Florida made a mortgage to Containerland for $4.25 million.

Moffatt said he worked with Allen Sage of Community First and Kristen Tackett, vice president and a business development officer with Florida First Capital, which arranged a Small Business Administration 504 loan.

Florida First Capital contracts with the Florida Department of Commerce to provide SBA-trained staff for the operation of its SBA 504 Loan Program, which provides long-term, fixed-rate financing up to $5 million for major fixed assets.

“We put 10% equity into this and then Community First and the SBA are financing the other 90% through the 504 program,” Moffatt said.

Sage, a commercial lending officer, said Community First is committed to helping the area develop and grow. Community First is building a new Gate Parkway branch next to the new Kanine Social location.

The project team – all local – comprises Halff Inc., which is providing land planning landscape architecture and civil engineering; Design Cooperative LLC is the architect; Equity Builders of Florida LLC is the contractor; and Community First Credit Union is the lender.

“The land planning and the teeing up and all of the due diligence has been occurring over the last year,” said Lara Diettrich, project manager and senior planner with Halff.

“We’ve all been working as a team together from the beginning.”

Moffatt leads the ownership group for Block Jacksonville LLC.

Ryan Irish will be a minority owner and the operating partner for both of Kanine Social’s Jacksonville locations as well as The Block Jax.

Along with the Moffatts and Irish as active investors, Moffatt's father and brother-in-law are passive minority investors.

 Kanine Social and jobs

The new Kanine Social will comprise almost 5,000 square feet of boarding, day care and reception area with more than 10,000 square feet of dog park and day care/boarding play yards. 

There will be 127 parking spaces on-site.

Toni and Ryan Irish with daughter, Wrenley, 18 months. Ryan Irish is Kanine Social manager and will be a minority owner and operating partner with The Block Jax.

Moffatt expects to hire 40-50 employees between The Block Jax and Kanine Social.

All in, he thinks the project could generate up to 75 full- and part-time jobs when including those by the food vendors.

Hiring will start closer to opening.

As for hours of operation, Moffatt said the new Kanine Social’s day will be similar to the first one, with drop-off for day care and boarding at 7 a.m. and pickup by 7 p.m.

He envisions The Block Jax opening at 9 a.m. daily and closing about 10 p.m., depending on events, such as NFL and college football games carried on the video screen.

“We’re not a late-night place by any means,” Moffatt said.

“We want people to be able to come in early. We want people with kids to be able to come to the kids’ park or with their dogs to the dog park at any time during the day,” he said.

The food park

Moffatt said most of the food vendors will be experienced area restaurateurs who want to open a second or third location or try a new concept. 

He said a few of the tentative food operations include The Bearded Pig owners planning a modified barbecue concept called The Bearded Piglet; The Bread & Board owners with possibly a fish-and-chips or a Thai concept; the San Marco Chz Fry Co. food truck, with a previous permanent spot at Kanine Social, opening a similar loaded fries concept with a twist; a spinoff created by the Canopy Road Cafe team specializing in gourmet breakfast sandwiches and specialty coffee; and 1928 Cuban Bistro.

“The food pods, as we call them, are shipping-container-style so they’re just a small kitchen, they’re fully equipped, so the vendors can come in and they can try something out and it doesn’t cost a lot for them to do that," Moffatt said.

Vendors aren’t entering a five- or 10-year lease, buying equipment or leasing 2,000 square feet of space to operate a full-service restaurant.

“They just need to have a concept that they either know that works or they want to try something new,” Moffatt said.

“We’ll be doing all the programming for them. So all the events that are there to get people there — all the social media marketing, handling all that management type stuff.”

He said the food park lends itself to restaurant owners who “just want to do what they enjoy, which is making food and serving people. They don’t want to deal with all the other headaches and that’s kind of what we’ll handle as the operators of The Block.”

He said the vendors will be local operators.

Moffatt said there will be six food options, an ice cream pod and probably a coffee-smoothie-type vendor.

“Obviously, people when they get together with friends, especially with kids, they’re always looking for a safe place to go and be able to relax a little bit, which is hard to do,” he said.

“I’ve got three little ones 6 years, 3 years and 21 months, so it’s very difficult to go out to eat.”

That’s why he wants to bring the concept to Jacksonville, “as we’ve visited and seen the success of similar concepts across the country.”

Why here, why now

Moffatt opened the original Kanine Social in August 2018 at 580 College St. in the Brooklyn-Riverside area to provide dog day care services along with an indoor/outdoor dog park where owners can drink beer, wine and coffee and socialize while their dogs play.

He bought the 15,884-square-foot building in 2017.

Wanting to expand, Moffatt said his group had been looking for a site.

The site plan for The Block Jax.

“COVID came around and we had to put that on the back burner, but it was a blessing as well because we were able to step back and see what are we missing with Kanine Social and what we were missing was the ability to attract people outside of just dog owners,” he said.

“Over the last 24 months or so we’ve started researching this, these other ideas of outdoor food halls and gathering places, visiting places like that, and that’s when we came up with The Block Jax,” he said.

They visited similar concepts in Greenville, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; and in Orlando and Tampa.

“Jacksonville needs something like this,” Moffatt said.

His group landed on the Gate Parkway site, which is near residential communities, apartments, condominiums, offices and retail developments. He said Colliers Senior Vice President Jason Ryals was the listing agent for the site.

Gate Parkway runs north to St. Johns Town Center.

“This captures the travel market of young professionals living in the thousands of condos and apartments in this area, the central location of access between I-295 and the Town Center,” Diettrich said.

“You are surrounded by a multitude of people looking exactly for this type of fun for their families and for their dogs.”



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