Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

Adding Publix a big lift for Palencia; store set to open in 2018

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Publix will open a new store in the Palencia Commons shopping center in St. Johns County. Franklin Street will manage leasing for the center.

While the coming addition of a new Publix is a welcome comfort for Palencia residents, the new development also signals a coming surge in commercial development in the area.

The Florida-based grocery store chain agreed to lease space for its new 45,600-square-foot store in Palencia Commons. The announcement was made Wednesday by Franklin Street and shopping center developer Cape Asset Management.

Publix’s arrival — expected in 2018 — will be likely please Palencia residents who haven’t had a grocery store in the shopping center that fronts the development since Food Lion pulled out more than four years ago. Food Lion closed all of its stores in the region in 2012.

Publix is also the kind store that brings other top-notch businesses, said Gary Davies, president of Cape Asset Management. He’s so confident that the company is now adding space in a shopping center that’s had a huge empty spot since Food Lion left.

“We’re going to do tremendous upgrades,” Davies said. “We’re totally redoing the existing center as well as adding two new buildings.”

The new buildings will be 6,000 square feet and 9,600 square feet, respectively, Davies said. The center already has two new tenants lined up in addition to Publix: Workout Anytime and Broad River Tavern.

Davies credited Palencia master developer Hines with helping the long-term success of Palencia Commons. He said because of the quality of the community, it was able to recover from the economic downturn and housing market collapse and remain a desirable place to live.

“I think Hines’ commitment to this area and their commitment long term to the Palencia development is the reason that I believe the project ultimately got done,” Davies said. “This part of the county could have a taken a very bad turn for the worse, but you had people who committed to the area.”

One of the reasons Palencia was able to maintain its popularity is because of its design and the lifestyle that affords, said Walt O’Shea, managing director for Hines.

He pointed to the community’s K-8 school and Palencia Commons as appealing aspects, allowing easy access to the places they visit most.

“Our original vision for Palencia was to try to integrate as many of those everyday conveniences as possible into the community,” O’Shea said. “Adding Publix to that mix just helps to see that vision come to fruition.

“As a master developer, we’re thrilled just to have this piece of the puzzle come into place.”

Palencia, which has about 1,500 occupied homes and room for another 800, is a growing community that is not alone in the area of U.S. 1 North. Publix will serve several established and emerging neighborhoods.

“There’s a lot more growth opportunities right around us,” Davies said. “We’re very bullish on the future of this area. Hines is the one that figured this out.”

And since the Palencia entrance also connects with International Golf Parkway, the shopping center there will draw customers from new developments on that road as well.

One of those developments is a Hines project called Markland. O’Shea said residents there are likely to use the Palencia Publix and that more commercial development is likely around both Markland and Palencia in the near future.

“We expect there’s more commercial announcements to come both at Palencia Commons, and I expect to see the same with more commercial following in a little farther west on International Golf Parkway,” O’Shea said. “I expect to see more commercial coming online there with the new rooftops that are starting to fill in.”

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