Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Town Center Land Secured; When Built, It Will Be Area's Largest

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Town Center Land Secured; When Built, It Will Be Area's Largest

Article excerpt

Byline: Gregory Richards, Times-Union business writer

*******************CORRECTION August 5, 2003

Regency Square, the area's largest mall with 1.4 million square feet, opened in 1967. Becuse of an editor's error, the date was wrong in a story on Page D-1 Saturday.

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Jacksonville took a giant step yesterday toward gaining its largest shopping center when two developers jointly purchased the 207 acres needed to build the St. Johns Town Center.

It will be the area's first "lifestyle" center, incorporating a mix of stores, apartments, hotels and possibly offices.

The land, located at the northwest corner of Butler Boulevard and St. Johns Bluff Road, was bought from the A.C. Skinner family by a joint partnership of Ben Carter Properties of Atlanta and Simon Property Group Inc. of Indianapolis.

A source close to the negotiations said the land sold for $18.4 million. Documents filed by Simon with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday listed the long-awaited project's total cost as approximately $158 million.

"It's been a long three-and-a-half years, with a lot of patience and a lot of persistence," said Paisley Boney IV, president of Ben Carter Properties. "We're very excited."

Construction, he said, would start "in the very near future."

With 1.5 million square feet of retail space, the project's initial anchor stores are a "flagship" Dillard's, much like the company's store at Tampa's International Plaza, and a Barnes & Noble bookstore, Boney said.

Another anchor will be Dick's Sporting Goods, according to Simon President Richard Sokolov, speaking in a quarterly conference call to analysts Thursday.

And DSW Shoe Warehouse was listed on development plans filed with the city last month.

The first 1.05 million square feet of retail space is scheduled to open in March 2005, according to Boney. The apartments are also targeted to open at that same time.

Plans to build office buildings are on hold, at least for now, said Boney, citing soft market conditions.

Boney said discussions are under way with hoteliers. The first of two 100-room hotels may open with the first stores. …

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