Developer seeking business tenants for church property

By Anthony Clark | The Gainesville Sun

The on-again, off-again redevelopment of the St. Michael's Episcopal Church property might be back on, as a developer is seeking business tenants even while the diocese holds out the possibility the church could remain.

The Ferber Company of Ponte Vedra Beach has had the property at the southwest corner of Northwest 43rd Street and 16th Avenue under contract for about two years. Church officials have said Walgreens was considering the site in late 2010 before losing interest.

The Episcopal Diocese of Florida was willing to sell the property because the church needs repairs it could not afford, and the property sale of more than $3 million would allow the congregation to build a new church in another location.

The contract — which already has been extended — expires soon, said Doug Walker, the bishop's deputy for advancement. Once the contract expires, he said the diocese would engage the congregation to determine its best interests.

He said the diocese would put all considerations on the table, including the cost of repairs, whether the developer lines up any businesses and whether the congregation wants to stay on the property it has occupied since 1960.

The church holds two services every Sunday with an average of 60 people attending, said the Rev. Rich Clark, church rector.

Teresa Grashof, Ferber's executive vice president for leasing and sales, issued a prepared statement: "We are working hand in hand with the Diocese of Florida to create the win-win scenario for the church and the community whereby the church achieves a relocation to better serve its membership and their needs and the community surrounding the current location is improved with new services to meet their needs."

Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group is marketing the property as Millhopper Commons.

Nick Banks of Front Street said the development would include an anchor spot on the corner that could have a drive-through and a strip center with multiple tenants along 43rd Street.

He said he is talking to a couple of banks and restaurants about the corner spot and has had interest from office, medical, retail and restaurant uses — both local and non-local — for the strip.

"There's a lot of activity in that little quadrant right now," Banks said. "It's just a prime location."

CVS opened earlier this year on the northwest corner; Publix recently rebuilt its store, and a Jersey Mike's sub shop opened last month in the area.

The St. Michael's property is zoned commercial. Development plans would need city approval.

"The goal is that we would be breaking ground sometime in 2013," Banks said.

Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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