Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay OK's Developer Agreement Tax Breaks Given, New Jobs Expected

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay OK's Developer Agreement Tax Breaks Given, New Jobs Expected

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

Tax breaks to help a private developer build 150,000 square feet of new office/warehouse space on Fleming Island have been endorsed by the leader of a citizens group that has been instrumental in keeping commercial development to a minimum on the island.

"This looks like a great win-win for everybody in the county," Marsha Dumler, chairman of the influential Fleming Island Citizen Advisory Committee, told the Clay County Commission Tuesday.

However, before a final verdict is in, she said, committee members want to tour similar developments in Jacksonville "to see what's coming" to Fleming Island. She said the group, which reviews development plans and provides input and recommendations to the county, is about "90 to 95 percent there on an agreement" with developer Jerry Agresti, president of Developers Realty Group Inc.

But instead of waiting for a 100 percent approval from the citizens group, county commissioners unanimously approved an economic development agreement containing future tax breaks for Agresti, who proposes to build four separate buildings at a cost of about $8 million in two phases, beginning with the first two structures this year.

In development vernacular, Agresti proposes to build "speculative flex office/warehouse space." In other words, he's building the facilities hoping and expecting that tenants will come. Agresti also has picked up the support of Cornerstone, the regional marketing arm of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, which has offered its assistance.

"We are delighted that your company is willing to structure a program to build speculative space for economic development in Clay County," said Jerry Mallot, executive vice president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to Agresti. "This has long been the major deterrent to the addition of jobs in Clay County.

"Our estimates show that 150,000 square feet of flex-space configured with 50 percent office and 50 percent warehouse space will generate approximately 750 jobs," Mallot said, adding that Cornerstone stands ready to help market the property and "assist in your efforts to fill the space. …

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