Florida Times-Union Property Under Contract; $ 250 million project planned | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record
Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua, who has experience building grocery stores in Brooklyn and Riverside, has signed a contract to purchase former Florida Times-Union property for a retail, office, restaurant and apartment project worth $ 250 million to create.
“All of these things have a lot of runways in the riverside area,” Fuqua said on May 20.
Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua
He said the project would be called One Riverside Avenue to reflect his address.
It will likely include a grocery store as well as use of the riverfront with waterfront amenities.
He didn’t know the square footage of the later project.
The plans are linked to the discovery and restoration of McCoy’s Creek, which runs through and under the property.
The Augusta, Georgia-based Morris family who own the property and Fuqua are working with the city on this project.
Lori Boyer, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, announced to the DIA board on May 19 that the agency is working with the potential buyer of the Morris property on restoration designs for McCoy’s Creek to fit the group’s development plans.
The creek is also an entry point for the proposed 30-mile Emerald Trail that surrounds downtown and connects neighborhoods with parks, green spaces, and waterways.
The 18.8 hectare Morris property covers 12 hectares of highlands. Fuqua said the rest is submerged land available for water supplies.
The current on the St. Johns River at the site is not conducive to a marina, he said.
“We are working on a great master plan that will focus on restoring McCoy’s Creek,” said Fuqua.
He said development would be quick.
“We’ll be under construction this year,” he said. The restoration of the creek would come with it.
The plans to develop the former Florida Times-Union site at 1 Riverside Ave. coincide with the restoration of McCoys Creek, which runs under the lot’s parking lot.
Fuqua did not announce a completion date but said it would be phased out.
He said the DIA and other city inspectors would receive plans in the next month or so.
The property is located on the St. Johns River and the Northbank Riverwalk on the west side of Acosta Bridge. It is located in the Downtown Overlay Zone and has incentives for redevelopment.
Fuqua declined to discuss the extent of the incentives or how much he would pay for the property.
Duval County’s real estate records show an estimated value of $ 15.12 million.
Fuqua said the site was big enough for “a pretty big project”.
“There aren’t many areas that big in this area,” he said.
The location of the location in Brooklyn, near Riverside and Downtown and across from San Marco “makes it the best location in town in our opinion.”
Steve Diebenow, partner in the law firm Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow PLLC, represents Fuqua. He confirmed the property is under contract and referred questions to Fuqua.
Fuqua’s neighborhood experience includes partnering with Jacksonville-based Regency Centers Corp. to develop the Brooklyn Station at Riverside Center across from the Morris property.
The center is anchored in the grocery store The Fresh Market, which opened in 2014.
Outdated renderings of the Morris family show a possible view after the creek was exposed.
Fuqua said he was president of the Sembler Company when they developed the Riverside Publix, which opened in 2002.
He noted the success of these projects. “We’ve been watching the area and this is a site that can fill in the gaps” that amenities need.
The Florida Times-Union was founded in 1967 on Riverside Ave. 1 opened. The Morris family bought the property in 1982 when they bought the newspaper.
The family sold the newspaper in October 2017 but retained the property. The newspaper staff moved to the Wells Fargo Center downtown in April 2019.
The Morris family has decided what to do with the Riverside Avenue location, which includes a five-story office building measuring 55,500 square feet and an adjoining 223,000 square meter manufacturing facility that includes the newsroom, advertising offices, and printing facility. There is also a parking lot and terrace, as well as some small structures.
Fuqua said the buildings would fall down. The structures were empty and showed signs of vandalism.
The Times Union property is owned by 1 Riverside Property LLC, which is owned by the Morris family.
Noel Schweers, general counsel of Morris Communications Co. LLC, said the family worked on the property’s development on May 19.
“It was a company-wide decision to leave the real estate development business,” he said.
“It’s a very specialized business. Our business background was different. “
He said it was known that Morris was not moving forward.
“Jeff called us and was ready to move forward quickly and take over our efforts,” said Schweers.
“Otherwise we’d step back and sit on it,” he said, an undesirable option.
“They are good people,” said Fuqua.
According to Schweers, Morris worked with the city to uncover McCoy’s Creek, which poses development challenges.
“The city has been very cooperative and went out of their way to help us because the stream needs to be tackled.”
A DIA-provided “Riverside” master plan dated April 3 shows a shift of McCoy’s Creek on the property, despite Fuqua saying it could stay where it is.
The conceptual plan shows where buildings could be positioned with a shift in the creek.
Rule Joy Trammell Rubio Architecture Atlanta Interior Design is the architect on the plan.
For conceptual purposes, the plan shows two riverside homes, two retail stores, and a grocery / retail building on Riverside Avenue.
According to Fuqua, the plans are evolving.
The Emerald Trail is an essential element of the downtown redevelopment.
On May 19, Jacksonville City Council allocated $ 132 million to the Emerald Trail to raise Duval County’s local option gasoline tax.
Fuqua Development was founded in 2012 and specializes in mixed-use centers for urban retail.
The website fuquadevelopment.com states that “live, work, play” best describes the characteristics he has developed.
Most of the projects include retail, restaurant, and residential space. The website features 12 projects in Atlanta and others in Alabama and Florida, including Jacksonville and Palm Beach Gardens.
Fuqua intended to purchase 67 acres on southeast Butler Boulevard and Interstate 295 from the Skinner family to develop a $ 300 million retail, office, residential, entertainment and hotel project.
Fuqua presented the project in March 2019 at the Ideas Exchange of the International Council of Shopping Centers in North Florida in Jacksonville.
COVID-19 then closed a large part of the economy in March 2020.
Real estate owner AC “Chip” Skinner III announced on August 3 that Fuqua’s purchase agreement for the property had expired.
Fuqua said on May 20 that he was still interested in Skinner land while elements of the original design were being tweaked due to COVID-19.
Entertainment and other developments changed course after social distancing and other restrictions.
Restaurants, theaters, and other high-density businesses are being redesigned to meet customer needs.
“We are still in discussions with the Skinners about this property,” said Fuqua.
Skinner said that on May 20, nothing had changed in the retail component of the 1,063-acre Master-planned property in the southeast quadrant called Seven Pines.
When completed, Seven Pines will include 1,600 single-family homes, apartments and more than 1 million square feet of commercial and retail space, as well as a 34-acre park with a lake.
Skinner said the retail website Fuqua was about to buy was not under contract.
Timing for development has proven beneficial as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
“It’s amazing what happened in 90 days,” said Fuqua.
“The market has exploded.”
Staff writer Mike Mendenhall contributed to this report.