700 acres in North Jacksonville being positioned for development

New York-based Zion Jacksonville LLC sold some land it has owned for almost 40 years and is outlining the remainder primarily for warehouse use.

The Zion Jacksonville LLC property is along Eastport Road, south of Interstate 295 and down to Zoo Parkway.
The Zion Jacksonville LLC property is along Eastport Road, south of Interstate 295 and down to Zoo Parkway.
City of Jacksonville
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New York-based Zion Jacksonville LLC appears to be positioning more than 700 acres it owns in North Jacksonville as a master development of potentially more than 8 million square feet of warehouse use.

Zion has owned at least 900 acres for what sources say has been a long time, and has been selling and deeding parcels, especially in the past year.

Industry sources say developers have been interested in the property for years, but that the owners have not been ready to sell or develop it until recently and are working with consultants to see what is possible.

“Here’s this 1,000 acres, it’s beautiful,” said one industry professional who asked not to be identified.

Property records show that Zion bought the land in 1986.

The industry experts say that after family leader Abraham Zion died eight years ago, the Zion family has been organizing in a long-term move to position the property to sell the land.

The Prosser civil engineering firm in Jacksonville asked city utility JEA to determine the service availability for the property Zion owns along Eastport Road, south of Interstate 295 and working its way down to Zoo Parkway.

The Zion Jacksonville LLC site.

Prosser, A Prime AE Company, has not responded to a request for comment.

Some of the property fronts Dunn Creek and the Broward and St. Johns rivers, indicating potential waterfront and port uses.

With land holdings so large, property owners are known to sort through varying plans and ideas over years for what they determine to be the highest and best use at the most advantageous market price.

For the Zion land, an exhibit dated June 20, 2024, outlines 11 parcels – some with connecting pieces – that primarily are for warehouse use. 

The key on that exhibit totals 881 acres.

Just one, the 52-acre Parcel 1 along the Broward River, is listed for multifamily development of an estimated 200 units.

The 65-acre Parcel 5 is shown as three wetland sites.

A separate calculation sheet shows the total estimated parcel acreage of 722.36 acres. 

That sheet, dated June 4, shows the estimated total warehouse use would be 8.17 million square feet along with 408,591 square feet of warehouse office space. Most warehouses have small office spaces.

 The individual warehouse parcels range from 9.94 acres to 97.38 acres.

However, indicating that buyers might want to combine sites, plans show that the combined Parcels 3A and 3B total 128 acres; Parcels 8A, 8B and 8C total almost 73.5 acres; and Parcels 9A, 9B and 9C total more than 206 acres.

Zion already has begun its sales.

It has sold one parcel to DHL and is selling land to InLight Real Estate Partners.

A Zion representative was traveling and did not immediately respond to questions, referring those to someone else with the company.

InLight Real Estate Partners

InLight Real Estate Partners confirmed June 26 that it intends to buy almost 137 acres “in the near future” and start construction on speculative buildings as soon as possible.

Ponte Vedra Beach-based InLight intends to build four to seven industrial buildings on Parcels 3A and 3B, shown among two phases, totaling 1.84 million square feet of warehouse space.

City civil engineering plans define the land as 136.8 acres, which is more than what the other plans show of 128 acres.

The Colliers commercial real estate firm is marketing the site as Eastport Logistics Park. A Colliers brochure says the park will start delivering buildings in the second quarter of 2025, meaning there will be space available then for tenant build-out.

Colliers executives Guy Preston, Seda Preston and Jack Heed are the landlord representatives for InLight.

The brochure says building sizes are available from 131,040 to 310,960 square feet. Flexible suite sizes start at 25,000 square feet.

There also is an option for a build-to-suit up to 687,700 square feet of space on the land along the CSX rail line.

The city approved civil engineering plans June 13 for a first phase of four buildings and is reviewing civil plans for mass grading of the land, addressed as 10145 Eastport Road.

The site is east of Eastport Road south of its intersection with Faye Road.

The CSX railroad tracks are to the north; single-family homes are to the east; wooded, undeveloped land and wetland is to the south; and Eastport Road is to the west.

Geotechnical engineer ECS Florida LLC in Jacksonville says in its report that the project will include seven warehouse buildings, 14 stormwater ponds, and paved and parking and drive areas.

The plans appear to be conceptual, and developers typically change those if a build-to-suit project becomes interested or market demand dictates change.

BTS means build-to-suit, indicating the user would have it developed to its specifications and then lease it from the developer or subsequent land owner. 

InLight Real Estate Partners submitted civil engineering plans to the city May 3 for four warehouse distribution buildings comprising 884,000 at the site in one phase.

The zoning designation is industrial business park and intensive office/business park.

The other phase would comprise three buildings or possibly the large build-to-suit.

Property records show that Zion Jacksonville LLC of Bronx, New York, owns the land.

The land previously had been the subject of a JEA service determination for InLight Real Estate Partners to determine the utility availability for “Project Z,” described as a 1.5 million to 2 million-square-foot light industrial building on about 100 acres. 

An email with that application described it as possibly a large bottling operation with high water and sewer demand needs, but JEA records show that project has been abandoned.

InLight Real Estate Partners Managing Partner David Burch

InLight Real Estate Partners Managing Partner David Burch said in November that project was “very preliminary and our understanding is that the potential project is considering multiple sites in multiple Southeastern states.”

At InLightRE.com, InLight Real Estate Partners describes itself as a full-service investment and development firm focused on industrial and logistics real estate across the Sunbelt, Midwest, East Coast and Gulf Coast markets.

Project Empire

Zion Jacksonville LLC sold property Nov. 28, 2023, to a company affiliated with DHL Supply Chain, backing earlier speculation that the logistics company was the city’s “Project Empire.”

RES Jacksonville I LLC of Westerville, Ohio, paid $10.26 million for the undeveloped industrial land along Kraft Road. 

Project Empire comprises a 603,200-square-foot warehouse on 47.13 acres at 10300 Eastport Road south of the San Mateo Little League ballfields in North Jacksonville.

The Ohio address for RES Jacksonville is that of DHL Supply Chain.

The site was part of 892 acres owned by Zion, but the deed did not specify how much acreage RES bought. However, the Duval County Property Appraiser shows that RES Jacksonville LLC bought almost 49.8 acres.

Project Empire matches the description of DHL, which is part of Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL Group.

DHL Group is an international logistics services company. 

City Council approved a resolution Sept. 26, 2023, for the city to execute a $1.5 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant for the unidentified Project Empire, “a major international logistics and distribution company,” to build a facility at Kraft and Eastport roads in North Jacksonville.

The site plan for Project Empire shows a 373,230-square-foot first-phase building and a new retention pond.

The 400,000-square-foot, $64 million project is described as a center to provide logistics and distribution services throughout the Southeast U.S. 

The economic development agreement said it will be completed by Dec. 31, 2025, and create 100 full-time jobs by Dec. 31, 2026.

Empire’s 100 full-time employees will include logisticians, warehouse receiving and shipping personnel.

The property

The land has a complicated history known best for its paper mill that opened more than 70 years ago.

The jaxsonmag.com reported the history of the paper company.

It opened as the St. Regis Paper Co. along the Broward River in January 1953.

Florida Times-Union newspaper archives show that the plant closed in May 1983 and was sold to Jacksonville Kraft Paper Co., which was registered with the state in April 1983.

The Times-Union reported that New York investor Abraham Zion bought the mill in March 1985.

Abraham Zion is shown in a photo marked November 1986 from The Florida Times-Union archive.

Zion and his sons Mark and Joshua are shown on the state registration for 1985-88.

Zion was president of Jacksonville Kraft Paper Co. Mark Zion was the corporate secretary and Joshua Zion was vice president.

Jacksonville Kraft restarted the mill, but shut it again in October 1985.

Jaxsonmag.com reported that Jacksonville Kraft Paper Co. was liquidated in July 1986.

Duval County Clerk of Court records show that in  October 1986,  Jacksonville Kraft Paper Co. sold the mill to Seminole Kraft Corp., in care of Stone Container Corp. in Chicago.

The Seminole Kraft property totals more than 388 acres.

In December 1986, the Zions created Zion Jacksonville Limited Partnership and registered that name with the state.

Through that limited partnership, the Zions bought property from Jacksonville Kraft Paper Co. Inc. 

The deed calls the property that the Zions bought the “Remaining Lands of Jacksonville Kraft.”

An online obituary shows that Abraham Zion died in 2016.Obituary comments called him an outstanding and brilliant businessman.

State corporate records show that the Zion Jacksonville Limited Partnership was canceled in 2014.

That year, Zion Jacksonville LLC was registered, led by Adina Zion, Josh Zion and Mark Zion of New York City.

The New York Times obituary published April 4, 2016, listed them as Abraham Zion’s children. They remain the LLC’s members as of 2024.

Joshua Zion signed the deed to RES Jacksonville I on Nov. 22, 2023. He was listed as the authorized manager and member of First Zion Holdings LLC, the manager and member of Zion Jacksonville LLC.  

The Jacksonville mill continues operating on property owned by Seminole Kraft Corp. at 9469 Eastport Road.

Through several mergers since, the paper company is now part of Smurfit WestRock and headquartered in Dublin, with a North and South American headquarters in Atlanta. 



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