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Jacksonville, FL (April 8,2019) — District 11 Council Member Danny Becton held a public workshop on April 8th to discuss the future application and rezoning of 1,068 acres of property located at the Southeast Quadrant of I-295 East and JTB, and the Skinner family’s plans to develop a “legacy community.”

The Skinner family announced that they were negotiating to sell the land with two buyers in a press release on February 22nd, but did not report the names of the potential buyers at that time. The press release states, “the 1,068 acres has been owned by the Skinner family for more than one hundred years. Although currently used for forestry operations, the property also has been the site of regular family gatherings and holds many memories. “ 

The workshop was held at the Southeast Regional Library off Gate Parkway. It began at 6:30 p.m. but the crowd of interested residents began filing in before 6 p.m. Over 80 people filled the front space of the library by the time the meeting began even as a typical Florida afternoon thunder storm preceded the event.

Councilman Becton thanked everyone for attending and explained the purpose of the workshop was to provide residents the opportunity to interact with the developers & have a direct, open discussion about the project, specifically, the developer’s Planned Unit Development “PUD” application before it is submitted to the city and voted on by council. He added that their insight and suggestions would be highly regarded in providing valuable feedback to improving this future development.

Councilman Becton introduced Roger Towers Attorney, T.R. Hainline, and CEO/President of England-Thims & Miller, Inc. (ETM), Hugh Matthews who were on hand as presenters for the evening and working with the Skinner Family on this project.

The workshop continued into a detailed presentation, which Hainline and Matthews had prepared, which provided residents a thorough explanation and visual renderings from the nearly 100-page PUD Rezoning application.

This future development is planned for up to 4,600 residential units along with 3.5 million sq. ft. of nonresidential area, 30 acres of recreation open space, 150 acres of passive open space and 165 acres of public rights-of-way or private thoroughfares. A large Central Park which will runs East to West through the heart of the community with many pocket parks will be planned so that all residential units are always a 5-minute walk. A large wetland conversation area known as Gum Swamp will also be set aside to provide an amenity for future nature trails and such within the development.

T.R. Hainline said he has never in his career worked on a PUD like the this one due to its investment and detailed design that controls so many variables of what can be built, how it is to be built and the infrastructure that will be provided to support this new community. It was the services of the firm Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative, LLC of Nashville, TN, which were employed to provide this comprehensive plan.

This approximate 1,068 acres, makeup the last largest piece of property out of the initial 50,000 acres the Skinner’s owned in Jacksonville over multiple generations. It is this reason for which the family wants to ensure this land is thoughtfully developed for future generations to enjoy and with a legacy that everyone could be proud of.

The original PUD is currently governed by Ordinance 2005-1226-E that was adopted in 2005, but over the last 15 years, conditions have changed, making it necessary to revisit and modify, updating the PUD, and allowing for an opportunity to accomplish the Skinner Family’s desire to create this one of a kind community.

According to the PUD Application, “the project is intended to create a pedestrian-oriented development. Rather than being primarily focused on use, regulation of the Project is character-based (also called “form”-based), which focuses both on use and an intended development pattern and result.” It also goes on to describe, “Development standards are provided for various Character Areas within the PUD Property, which are intended to result in a range of natural and built environments, from natural preserve, to predominately residential neighborhoods, to general mixed use, village center, commercial, office and regional uses”.

The project includes interconnected streets, managed block sizes to help reduce traffic and encourages residents to walk with the focus on a higher quality of life environment. The owner envisions many of the daily tasks and routine actives being within a short walking distance of their homes, businesses, and the village center. It will grant those who don’t drive, more independence and reduces the number of cars and the time spent on roads, which ultimately improves the environment and quality of life of its residents.

“A range of open spaces, including parks, playgrounds, village greens, natural preserves and community gardens, will be distributed within neighborhoods and provide opportunities for both active and passive recreation. Conservation areas and open lands, such as the large Gum Swamp preserve, will be used to define and connect various neighborhoods and other features.”

“This PUD is quite unique in that it provides a level of detail that I have not seen before in a Master Planned Development”, CM Becton noted. “Builders will be held to design standards and building specifications that cannot be changed without coming back to Council to modify the PUD.”

In addition to the development plans, the project also involves an extension of Kernan Boulevard going South from JTB, providing for the connection to Baymeadows Road East and Gate Parkway as to the final part of the Transportation Management Area (TMA) network.

“The Kernan Blvd extension is a much-anticipated roadway that area residents have been waiting on for many years”, CM Becton added. “to see this final leg of the TMA on the horizon, it certainly will help improve the movement for residents in this sector of the District”.

The meeting allowed for comments on such issues as use and restrictions, design guidelines and site plan development. Most importantly, it gave the representatives of the development the opportunity to explain the Skinner family’s concept and allow for neighboring communities to be involved in the plans and scope from the beginning of the rezoning process, before the application is filed.

There were several questions about traffic, timeframe for the development and expected date of completion. Hainline and Matthews said it all depends on what happens once the rezoning is introduced to City Council, but they could break ground in January of 2020 if all goes as planned.

The plan is to begin with the multi-use developments in the center of the project and work their way out into the residential plans, and depending on the market conditions, construction could take 20 to 30 years until completion.

On March 18, it was announcement that an Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua looks to purchase the 67-acre “village center” and intends to bring an innovative plan to provide for a fresh version of how people live, work, shop and play in what will be an anticipated as a $300 million project complete with retail, commercial and residential uses. As quoted in the Jacksonville Financial Daily Record, Jeff Fuqua stated that “We superimposed the San Marco retail district to get the feel and we tweaked it to fit our project”, stated Fuqua. “With some elements of San Marco, much of the project will follow the “industrial mercantile’ look and will be a city with different complexions”, Fuqua added.

 “This meeting was extremely important to provide the residents the facts about what is to be done and how it will integrate into the big picture of established communities around them”, CM Becton explained. “There were lots of great questions, residents got answers and certainly there always is the concern about how growth will affect the entire area, which was discussed as well.”

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