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Gateway Jax, a commercial real estate company sponsored by Jacksonville-area firms JWB Real Estate Capital and DLP Capital, today announced that it has acquired 22 acres of Jacksonville's downtown core—amassing buildings and development sites that span 20+ city blocks, with plans for $500 million of mixed-use build-out in a first phase. Gateway Jax expects to break ground on its first developments in mid-2024, with the total build-out of current sites estimated at $2+ billion over the next decade. Gateway Jax's redevelopment will mark one of the largest-ever urban-core revitalizations in the US, in terms of its geographic span, and will complement already-existing initiatives by the city to spur on new decades of economic vitality. Jacksonville, one of Florida's top cities, is a growing economic driver in the state as businesses and new state residents seek alternatives to increasingly unaffordable regions of the country. The city boasts among the lowest costs of living in Florida and an enviable lifestyle; is home to Fortune 500 companies and leading universities, including a recently announced University of Florida graduate campus; and the city serves as an international multimodal hub with the Port of Jacksonville. Gateway Jax seeks to significantly impact the city with its developments providing enormous economic, social, and resident benefits.
"Gateway Jax will make an impact far beyond any buildings that we'll build, with our redevelopment initiatives adding to the vibrancy of downtown Jacksonville," said Bryan Moll, CEO of Gateway Jax. "We plan to create thriving, walkable neighborhoods that create a sense of place, attracting residents and workers who'll be able to find everything they need within the city's core. Jacksonville is the gateway to Florida and a key to the state's economic future, and the city is on the cusp of an unheralded transformation." Gateway Jax's leadership previously spearheaded Water Street Tampa, the $4 billion development revitalization of Tampa's waterfront and the National Landing development—site of Amazon's HQ2—in the Washington, DC area.
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The greater Jacksonville metropolitan area has a population of 1.68 million, with 500 people moving to the city every week, drawn to a strong job market, 220+ days of annual sunshine, and no personal state income tax. The city boasts a well-educated workforce with a median age of 36, and area industries range from financial services, advanced manufacturing, and logistics, to IT, health and biomedical, among others. There are more than 85 daily non-stops flights into Jacksonville International Airport, with its recently announced $400-million expansion further adding to commerce.
Gateway Jax's initial development activity will center around the North Core district of Jacksonville's downtown, within the central business district and just north of City Center. Pending city approvals, the company's near-term plans include development of three buildings along Pearl Street that will offer 1,000+ multifamily units, more than 120,000 square feet of grocery-anchored retail, and a variety of new public spaces that encourage community interaction. These sites are expected be within proximity to the newly announced $400-million graduate campus that the University of Florida plans to build in the downtown Jacksonville vicinity. The prestigious university is ranked #5 in the nation among public universities. JWB Real Estate Capital and DLP Capital are each donating $500,000 to development of the new campus.
Gateway Jax's critical mass, spanning 20 city blocks, will create dynamic and interconnected, walkable neighborhoods that will invigorate downtown Jacksonville. Streetscape designs will encourage connectivity including public spaces, courtyards, and sidewalk cafes. (Links to renderings below.) In addition to multifamily and retail, future development phases are expected to include office, hotel, and other mixed-uses. Development goals will also include creating pedestrian flows along green corridors leading to the public waterfront's cultural and recreational amenities, complementing the city's 30-mile Emerald Trail that will encircle the urban core. Gateway Jax's development will also pay homage—through design, art, and architecture—to the rich history and culture of micro-neighborhoods.
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"Creating thriving communities is at the core of our decades of development expertise, and there's no better place to engage that expertise than in our own backyard of Jacksonville," added Don Wenner, Founder and CEO of DLP Capital. "Any builder can build space; we invest in and build communities that serve America's workforce families. In the case of Jacksonville, with the support of the city's residents, we plan to polish the underlying gem to help it shine brighter." DLP Capital is providing the majority of capital for the Jacksonville developments through its private evergreen funds that invest in building thriving communities.
The Gateway Jax track record of leadership success not only includes the $4-billion Water Street Tampa mixed-use development and National Landing mixed-use project underway in Arlington with Amazon's HQ2, but prolific community development on a regional level. Gateway Jax sponsors DLP Capital and JWB Real Estate Capital have long built reputations on impactful community development in Florida. That includes building quality and affordable single-family and multifamily rental communities for area workforces spanning from the Jacksonville and St. Augustine areas, south to Orlando. The sponsors are also very active in philanthropic and community initiatives aimed at improving the lives and livelihoods of Floridians, as well as residents of other communities across the US.
Added Alex Sifakis, President of JWB Real Estate Capital, a sponsor of Gateway Jax, "We will complement the phenomenal initiatives already begun by the City of Jacksonville and its Downtown Investment Authority, which jump-started Jacksonville's revitalization, helping to round out their initiatives and that of so many others that see the enormous potential that Florida's biggest city has to offer." JWB initially acquired the majority of the downtown properties that have since segued into the Gateway Jax portfolio.
Prior to today's unveiling of the full scope of Gateway Jax's plans, late last week the Jacksonville Downtown Development Review Board unanimously approved the conceptual plan for Gateway Jax's first phase of its multi-phase development, the Pearl Street District.
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