Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Condos on Beach's Horizon Owner Trading Motel for Retirement

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Condos on Beach's Horizon Owner Trading Motel for Retirement

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

The Atlantic Shores Motel has withstood several hurricanes, two decades of partying golf caddies from The Players Championship and numerous economic recessions that have kept room rates low for most of its 45 years.

But the motel at 923 First St. S. won't withstand the trend of oceanfront condominiums gobbling up old motels and beachfront bungalows on First Street in Jacksonville Beach.

"It's sad in a way," said Jim Hayes, who bought the Atlantic Shores Motel 18 years ago. "We've made friends with so many people."

Hayes is ready to close on a contract with the Sofran Group on March 31. The Neptune Beach developer, which also bought the 21-unit condo next door, plans to replace the buildings with Marbella, a luxury 12-story tower with condominiums that will start at $1.5 million and sell for as much as $2.3 million.

Marbella will be a gated community with 24-hour security, two elevators, a fitness center and a pool equipped with summer kitchens and pool bar. There will be two units per floor, each with 5,450 to 6,760 square feet. The floor plans call for at least 1,020 square feet of oceanfront and sunset terraces.

Marbella is being designed by Robert Swedroe, the architect of Turnberry Place, a $600 million complex in Las Vegas composed of four 38-story towers that was built in 2000.

Construction could start by June or July and finish by November 2003, said Pamela Tibbs, a Realtor with Prudential Network Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach. So far, Prudential has 11 pre-registration contracts on the condominiums, she said.

The condominium plans still have to be reviewed and approved by the Jacksonville Beach Planning Department.

During the past few years, Hayes has learned what it's like to be in demand.

"At one time, we had 13 contracts on this property," he said. …

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