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IKEA, Amazon, Town Center and more: What to watch for in Jacksonville coming 2017

(Published on - 1/12/2017 5:58:37 PM)




IKEA, Amazon, Town Center and more:

What to watch for in Jacksonville coming 2017 




Jacksonville and internet retail giant Amazon should have a very fruitful association in 2017. 


After months of hype, talk and even some secrecy, Amazon is projected to open its distribution center by the end of 2017. That means about 1,500 people will be employed at the huge facility. Of those jobs, 500 of them will average $50,000 a year in pay and the rest will fall in the $12-$15-an-hour range. 


The city once dubbed the facility "Project Rex" as it worked to finalize the deal. The project at 12900 Pecan Park Road on Jacksonville's North Side, is expected to cover 2.13 million square feet and is already being built after receiving an $87 million building permit from the city. Hiring isn't expected to begin until about mid-2017. 


Helping to bolster its presence in Jacksonville, Amazon submitted plans to the city for a second facility to be built at 13333 103rd Street that would have more than one million square feet of work space for a warehouse. 




After hype and hoopla for most of two years about the pending opening of an IKEA in Jacksonville, the Swedish home furnishing giant will finally open its doors in the fall of 2017. The business community and general area consumers cheered when IKEA announced in 2015 it would bring one of its stores to Jacksonville. But construction on the store just got started in November and when it is finished by the end of 2017, will feature 290,000-square-feet of space with 1,200 parking spaces. It's projected to employ 250 people at the site off Gate Parkway near the intersection of Interstate 295. 


There are currently more than 380 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 42 in the U.S. The Jacksonville store will be the fifth IKEA in Florida, with stores currently in Orlando & Tampa and two more in South Florida. The only Georgia store is in Atlanta. 





The St. Johns Town Center has been the retail epicenter of Northeast Florida since it opened in 2005. Not only has it grown since then, but the Markets at Town Center next to it has continued to fill in. Now two more developments are under construction right across the street, adding more stores, more restaurants and, yes, more cars. 


The first of the businesses are expected to pen this year, so here's a look at what's coming: 


The Town Center Promenade, a 30-acre mixed-use development by Core Property Capital of Atlanta, is the northernmost of the two projects. Among its committed tenants so far are Aldi, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Texas de Brazil, Piada Italian Street Food, Newk's Eatery and Starbucks. The developer also has plans for a hotel and apartment complex there. 


Preferred Properties Group has a total of 45 aces in two parcels: The Strand at Town Center along Town Center Parkway and The Crossing at Town Center on the south side of Gate Parkway. Commitments so far include Best Buy, which will move from Markets at Town Center, PGA Tour Superstore, Hobby Lobby, Chuy's Tex Mex, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen


Stanmore Partners is building its 306-unit Ravella at Town Center apartment complex in The Strand. 






Three major projects are all on the cusp in San Marco. Construction is underway on Broadstone River House, a 263-apartment building on Southbank. The first units are expected to ready in late December. 


Meanwhile, groundbreaking is expected this spring on The District, a 30-acre mixed-use development on the Southbank, and East San Marco, the much-delayed project at Atlantic Blvd. & Hendricks Ave. The District's plans call for up to 1,170 resident units, 200 hotel rooms, 285,000 square feet of commercial/retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space, and a 125-slip marina, built in 3 phases. 



Plans for East San Marco, first announced a decade ago, include 239 apartments, townhomes and retail, including a Publix. 




It was a cultural tradition directly linked to one of the First Coast's most famous cultural exports. But the Freebird Live concert venue and nightclub came to an end in 2016 which will lead to a new stab at capitalizing on the surf culture in 2017. 


The establishment was owned and operated by Judy Van Zant, widow of Lynyrd Skynyrd founder Ronnie Van Zant, and her daughter Melody Van Zant when they acquired the former Sloppy Joe's 17 years ago.


But the Van Zants sold the establishment in Jacksonville Beach to Jax Beach LLC who bought the building in February for $2.2 million. Salt Life and Surf Concepts will run it with a license from Surfer Magazine under the heading of Surfer the Bar which is scheduled to open this January. 


This will be the first Surfer the Bar on the U.S. mainland, the only other one is in Hawaii. There will be two bars inside and a tiki bar outside. A refurbished 1962 Airstream trailer will be inside the building as a permanent food truck. 


Rip Curl surf apparel and equipment company is also scheduled to have a shop within in the site on First Street in Jacksonville Beach. 




Among the restaurants scheduled to open this year:


Cowford Chophouse has been one of the most ambitious projects in recent memory, taking apart and rebuilding the old Bostwick Building downtown. After changing contractors, the opening for the restaurant, described as a classic chophouse, is expected later this year. 


Rue St. Marc, the latest from the Medure brothers, is a French-American bistro going in at the fork of Hendricks Ave. & San Marco Blvd. 


Longtime area restauteur Jerry Moran has closed Le Cena downtown and is moving the Italian restaurant to Edgewood Ave. in Murray Hill. 


Hawkers Asian Street Fare has been a hit in Five Points since it opened almost three years ago. Its new location in Neptune Beach is expected to open...soon. 


Local success story Maple Street Biscuit Co. is bringing its Latin restaurant B Street Eats to the former Knead Bakeshop location on Edgewood Ave. in Murray Hill. The first B Street opened in May in St. Augustine. 




The exact and fin al implications of an acquisition of Jacksonville-based EverBank Financial Corp. won't be visible to many customers but there will be changes for one of the biggest players in the First Coast's financial industry. 


While TIAA announced the acquisition of EverBank in August 2016, the deal won't be complete until early 2017. EverBank shareholders, though, gave approval to the deal agreement for TIAA to acquire EverBank for the $19.50 per share of common stock in cash. The deal is estimated to be valued at $2.5 billion cash. 


TIAA officials have said they had no plans to eliminate EverBank workers. EverBank employs 2,963 workers of which 1,624 work in Jacksonville. It has 60 mortgage offices across the country and financial operations in New York, New Jersey, Washington, & Missouri. The stadium housing the Jacksonville Jaguars is currently named EverBank field and it's still clear if the acquisition will have any impact on those naming rights. 




While the Jacksonville Jaguars haven't been in the spotlight much for their football prowess thanks to five miserable losing season, 2017 promises to be a shining moment for the organization and NFL franchise owner Shad Khan as a new amphitheater and in-door practice facility is set to open adjacent to EverBank field.


The amphitheater, planned to hold 5,500 people, is expected to infuse life into a sports complex business district that otherwise is often lacking events when the Jaguars aren't playing home games. Jaguars President, Mark Lamping, said the organization hopes to hold 35 to 40 events per year at the facility. 


"With the new amphitheater and flex field, it's a whole new revenue stream," Lamping said of the facilities that the Jacksonville City Council agreed to put $45 million into a 50-50 deal with the Jaguars organization. 




The Jacksonville Suns Double A minor league baseball team has been one of the city's most beloved sports institutions for five decades but the name has changed in advance of the 2017 season.


It's a big change to switch to the Jumbo Shrimp as their mascot and it's not clear how it will play out for the franchise's business. Many fans took to social media to decry the switch when it was announced last fall. 


Even marketing & business experts were mixed on the rebranding of the logo and mascot to a beefy Jumbo Shrimp that has pumped biceps. "I think it is a risky maneuver," said Doug Johansen, Associate Professor of Marketing at Jacksonville University. On the other hand, "I think the rebrand is great...It has people talking," said Kristi Sweeny, Assistant Professor of Sport Management at the University of North Florida


Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Sharks arena football team is part of a major overhaul of the entire sport of indoor football. The franchise parted way from the struggling Arena Football League in 2016 and helped form a coalition with other teams. Sharks owner Jeff Bouchy said every AFL team a year ago absorbed losses of more than $1 million. 


Not only will the play on arena fields be tested in whatever incarnation or league that unfolds in 2017, but the financial sustainability will be on the line as well. 


The Jacksonville Armada Football Club is also in a bumpy state of transition as the future of the soccer team and it's financial viability also remains uncertain in 2017. The league associated with the Armand, the North American Soccer League, is also struggling financially to hold the string of teams together. 


In December, the team released five players from the Armada roster in order to ease financial strain. The franchise then ended its association with the team's Director of Broadcasting. Even Armada owner Mark Frisch acknowledged in a statement posted on the team's website that he's doing everything he can to salvage the financial future of the organization in 2017 and he is "continuing to work with the club's leadership team to keep the sport of professional soccer alive in Jacksonville."



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