Commercial real estate company Gateway Jax, sponsored by JWB Real Estate Capital and DLP Capital, has acquired 22 acres in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Amassing buildings and development sites that span over 20 city blocks, Gateway Jax has plans for $500 million of mixed-use development, including over 1,000 multifamily units for the first phase; the team expects to break ground in mid-2024.
“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,” says Bryan Moll, CEO. “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.”
The firm’s initial development activity will center around the North Core district of Jacksonville’s downtown. Near-term plans include the development of three buildings along Pearl Street—conceptually being referred to as “Pearl Square.” It will offer over 1,000 market-rate multifamily units with a mixture of studios to three-bedrooms; more than 120,000 square feet of grocery-anchored retail; and a variety of new public spaces that encourage community interaction.
Development plans include a 22-story residential building with 400 apartments and 150 furnished short-term units; a seven-story residential building with 200 units, a large amenity courtyard, and private balconies; and an additional seven-story residential building with an expected 275 units. All three buildings are anticipated to be built above ground-floor retail.
Surrounding the multifamily developments will be a mix of community-oriented spaces, including a curbless festival street, a flexible lawn space at the historic Porter House mansion, a renovated parking garage to include new ground-floor retail, and a potential hotel. These sites are expected to be within proximity to the newly announced $400 million graduate campus that the University of Florida plans to build in the downtown Jacksonville vicinity. JWB Real Estate Capital and DLP Capital are each donating $500,000 to development of the new campus.
In addition to multifamily and retail, future development phases are expected to include office and other mixed uses. Complementing the city’s 30-mile Emerald Trail that will encircle the urban core, development goals entail creating pedestrian flows along green corridors leading to the public waterfront’s cultural and recreational amenities. The total build-out of current sites is estimated at more than $2 billion over the next decade.
“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,” says 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 most of the capital for the Jacksonville developments through its private evergreen funds.
Alex Sifakis, president of JWB Real Estate Capital, says, “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 transitioned into the Gateway Jax portfolio.
Prior to unveiling the full scope of Gateway Jax’s plans, 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.