Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Northwest Site Proposed for Business; Gate Behind Bartram Village

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Northwest Site Proposed for Business; Gate Behind Bartram Village

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Gate Petroleum wants to build a retail and office complex at Race Track Road and Florida 13, with a lake as its centerpiece.

But there were some concerns about the impact the proposal might have on traffic at the busy intersection, as well as how nice the project would look, during an hour-long meeting Thursday night between the developer, architect and about 40 Fruit Cove residents.

After the meeting, long-time resident Don Beattie said a project like this will generate more revenue for the county. But because this will be built at "the gateway to St. Johns County," he wanted assurances that it be developed as nicely as possible. And he is still concerned about its impact to Fruit Cove's busiest intersection.

"Traffic flow is a big problem, and that is a bad intersection," he said. "If you are coming west on Race Track and want to enter Florida 13, you have just a little turn-in, and in the morning, it's bad."

Resident Tom Manuel said this kind of commercial development is needed in the community, but community concerns heard at the meeting about the small landscaped buffer the developer is proposing must be addressed.

"The buffer zone is very critical, and there is no question we need to look at that as well as the traffic flow," he said. "What we in the Northwest want is above and beyond projects."

But Ken Wilson, vice president of Gate Petroleum , said concerns about landscaping, appearance and traffic will be addressed when they present the proposal to the county's Planning and Zoning Agency for rezoning by the end of the year.

"We guarantee they will like what they see when we finish. We have done this before in Ponte Vedra and Deerwood," he said. "We like to think we address those as seriously as anyone else, because poor access and gridlock is not good for business."

The 17.6-acre project will be called Bartram Village and would occupy a long-empty wooded site on the northeast corner of the intersection. About 13 one- and two-story buildings would circle the 2-acre lake at its center and a Gate Food Post on the Florida 13/Race Track Road corner. Wilson said the center could include "upscale" restaurants, a bank, retail stores and dentist, attorney or similar offices. …

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