Atlanta developer shares vision for $300 million ‘village center’ at I-295, Butler
Posted by Carlos Renteria on
Imagine historic San Marco Square – but larger – dropped into a signature Southside property.
That’s what Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua envisions at the 67-acre “village center” area at southeast Butler Boulevard and Interstate 295 that he intends to buy from the Skinner family.
Fuqua, principal of Fuqua Development, intends to bring Jacksonville a fresh version of how people shop, play, live and work in an anticipated $300 million project will comprise retail, commercial and residential uses.
Fuqua’s project becomes the retail center at the 1,063-acre Skinner property targeted for development into retail, commercial and housing uses.
“We superimposed the San Marco retail district to get that feel and we tweaked it to fit our project,” Fuqua said Friday.
With some elements of San Marco, much of the project will follow the “industrial mercantile” look, he said.
It will be “a city with different complexions.”
Skinner family representative A.C. “Chip” Skinner III said Monday that Fuqua’s project track record brings a new level of activity to the St. Johns Town Center area. The Town Center is northwest across Butler Boulevard.
“It’s a different type of project than what our area has seen,” Skinner said. “That was really one of the main drivers for selecting them for that particular site.”
Fuqua wants to provide project details as the keynote presenter at the International Council of Shopping Centers North Florida Idea Exchange on March 28 at TIAA Bank Field.
After his presentation is a panel discussion about “The Future of Experiential Retail.”
The Bold City Food Hall
A marquee feature for Fuqua’s property will be the 40,000-square-foot Bold City Food Hall, comprising 20,000 square feet for a 20-kitchen food hall and 20,000 square feet for a 20-bay mercantile hall comprising 600-square-foot bays.
There also will be stationary food trucks whose customers can use the estimated 450 seats inside the food hall. The trucks will be connected to power services and will be rented to single tenants, he said.
Fuqua plans an indoor-outdoor bar at the food hall, and he is exploring whether he can gain city approvals for customers to carry open containers throughout the project.
A green space, which will include a stage, Fuqua said.
“It’s the most forward-thinking project out there,” Fuqua said.
The mixed-use concept will include a high-end dinner cinema; a bowling center; a specialty grocery store; and apartments, hotels and office space.
“It’s a high-experience project,” Fuqua said. “It should be the place where people in Jacksonville want to come.”
He expects to announce the names of the food hall chef and the bar operator at the ICSC event.
The Fuqua project is designed for 350,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space; 650 to 700 multifamily units; two hotels; and a 60,000-square-foot office structure with the ability to place another 40,000 square feet of space over other buildings to create multistory structures.
Fuqua said the project would be “handsome, green and walkable.”
The office space could be speculative, although Fuqua said he was talking with some co-work concepts.
He calls the retail bays “clicks to bricks,” such as for tenants who are internet-based but want a brick-and-mortar presence. The focus will be on local and ready-to-wear clothing tenants, but not what is found at the Town Center.
“We’re not focused on mall tenants,” he said.
The food kitchens and retail bays represent a “low-risk entry into business.”
He said the 600- to 700-square-foot mercantile bays can be densely merchandised because the tenants would not need to provide common areas or restrooms because the food hall area would have those services. Each bay would have its own dressing room.
Running through the Fuqua project will be the main street, with parallel parking and retail and entertainment lining each side.
Moving beyond that street will be other buildings topped by offices and apartments for what Fuqua calls an “urbanized” feel.
He said the project isn’t planned to be built in phases and could be completed mostly in the same time frame.
Site work for Fuqua’s project would start as soon as his group buys the land, expected early next year. The retail construction could take 18 months and the apartments could be completed in 20 months
Fuqua said he is working with the England-Thims & Miller firm as development consultants and intends to work mostly with local firms.
He is working with the Skinners on branding the village center, which is central in the northern part of the property just off Butler Boulevard, where Kernan Boulevard will be extended.
The Skinner land
The Skinner family announced Feb. 22 that it is negotiating with two buyers for the 1,063 acres.
The overall site is designed for residential neighborhoods, a village center, and regional office and commercial uses.
The property is across Butler Boulevard and I-295 from St. Johns Town Center, Duval County’s primary shopping area with major national tenants, which was developed on property sold by the family.
“Our location is so great. That is the healthiest submarket in town,” Fuqua said.
The Skinner family applied to the city to rezone the property for a planned unit development, which proposes what it said is “a distinctive character-based approach focusing on development form and pattern.”
The project development plans submitted to the city state what is proposed:
About 4,600 dwelling units, 3.5 million square feet of nonresidential space, 30 acres for recreation open space, 150 acres of passive open space and 165 acres of public rights-of-way or private thoroughfares.
The Rogers Towers law firm is handling the application. England-Thims & Miller Inc. is the civil engineer.
Skinner said the family looked at three main factors in choosing buyers:
Their history in the marketplace; the quality of the product that they build; and their willingness “to embrace the vision that we have for the community, which is a walkable, community-friendly development,” Skinner said.
The family hired Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative of Nashville, Tennessee, to work with planning firms representing the buyers.
A family statement said the assignment was to design a walkable, mixed-use community with distinct residential neighborhoods, a village center, and regional office and commercial uses.
Skinner said in May the ownership group is optimistic the plan “will create something in Jacksonville that it hasn’t really experienced yet, something that is a little more urban in a suburban area.”
The southeast quadrant, as it is called, is the last large undeveloped Duval County site that remains of the Skinner family’s original 50,000 acres from the early 1900s. The rest has been sold and developed.
Skinner said Monday that the family is speaking with a master developer-builder for the residential portion of the property, about 450 to 500 acres. That sale is expected early next year.
He said the family will retain about 125-150 acres primarily along I-295 designated as mixed-use. It could be sold later.
Skinner said the family wanted to give Fuqua’s project time for development and leasing.
“We feel like he has a unique project that will bring a lot of activity and a lot of value to that whole area and we don’t want to compete with him. We want to give him every opportunity to succeed,” he said.
About Fuqua Development
Fuqua Development LP was established in March 2012 by Jeff Fuqua and Heather Correa, a partner in the company.
Since then, Fuqua Development has developed 22 projects in the Southeast comprising 2 million square feet of retail space, 5,000 multifamily units and office space, Fuqua said.
Six more, not including Jacksonville, are under construction or in development, he said, comprising 1 million square feet of retail space, 2,000 multifamily units and office space.
Fuqua was a Sembler executive for 24 years and was a board member, partner and president when he left to start his company.
FuquaDevelopment.com describes its focus as “non-prototypical shopping centers achieving new concepts in retail and mixed use projects,” the site says.
Those concepts incorporate characteristics of "live, work, play" into communities and integrate urban lifestyles with the shopping center environments, it says.
“The firm spends a lot of time and energy on creating individuality to each project based on the neighborhood and geographic region architecturally,” it says.
Its 22 Southeast projects include Atlanta area developments such as The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park, Madison Yards, Lindbergh Place, Decatur Crossing, Peachtree Corners Town Center and, with construction starting in August, the 100-acre Gwinnett Exchange.
Its Florida projects include North Palm Marketplace in Palm Beach Gardens.
In Jacksonville, it developed what it refers to as Riverside and Jackson, the Fresh Market-anchored retail center and 300 apartments in Brooklyn.
It also has developed other Northeast Florida projects.
By: Karen Brune Mathis