Commercial Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Leasing & Management

New Retail Concepts, Development Projects Are Reshaping NE Florida Market

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Whitney Butler, director of retail leasing, says Jacksonville is becoming a major retail hub.

In Northeast Florida, shopping center owners have recognized that retailers and restaurants that can create an immersive experience for their customers, will drive more foot traffic, and ultimately boost repeat sales.  Franklin Street’s Whitney Butler, director of retail leasing, shares her forecast on the area’s upcoming development projects and their impact on the Jacksonville retail market.

What local or macro-economic trends are affecting the retail market in Jacksonville?
Jacksonville continues to rank both as one of the fastest growing cities and a top market for job seekers.  It is also one of the top cities where millennials are moving to live.  With millennials driving growth in urban markets across the country, here in Jacksonville, neighborhoods in the 32204 ZIP code (Riverside, Five Points, and Brooklyn) are favorite places for millennials to live. The area has the highest percentage of millennial growth over the last five years than any other ZIP code in the state of Florida. 

Those economic factors help explain why restaurant chains are flocking to the Jacksonville market.  Plus, the sense of community created by events like the weekly Riverside Arts Market and the surrounding walkable businesses, retail and service, are turning the city into a major retail hub.  In fact, many new-to-market food and beverage concepts are identifying the market as key to entry or THE MARKET for one-location strategies.  If not available today, they are waiting on the right building to fit their brand or experience.  

Continued gentrification and evolution in this market is not slowing despite challenges due to the high barriers to entry, as well as parking constraints. The good news is there are redevelopment opportunities along corridors in the area located by Park Street and in the Brooklyn area.   
Are there any major retail projects under construction or recently completed in metro Jacksonville that are worthy of note? 

Development in and around the thriving St. Johns Town Center outdoor shopping plaza continues to dominate the Jacksonville retail landscape. Gateway Village at Town Center and Tinseltown Plaza are two projects that are both under construction and bringing new-to-market concepts. Gateway Village will be home to the first Cycle Bar, MyDry Blowout Bar, and M Hospitality Group’s new BBQ concept. Tinseltown Plaza has the first Noire Nail Bar, Insomnia Cookie, and Soupa Saiyan locations.  

Urban Air Adventure Park, The Escape Room, Fishweir Brewing Company and Murray’s Taco Bodega are other retailers that are opening or coming soon.   A Sprouts grocery will open later this year and will be the first in Jacksonville.

Other new developments include a multifamily, retail and office project by real estate firm Hines and a recently announced “village center” by Fuqua Development.  The 67-acre mixed-use project will include retail, commercial and residential uses and bring a fresh perspective to Jacksonville, while retaining the historic feel of the local San Marco neighborhood. 

What submarket is a hot spot for retail development, and what are the driving factors?
The Brooklyn neighborhood is seeing much growth with continued addition of multifamily units — Vista Brooklyn is under construction today, that will have 300+ apartment units in addition to 12,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space.  This situation is being driven by the millennials actively seeking the neighborhood and the number of breweries, restaurants and coffee shops in the area that enhance the community feel.

As noted above, the St. Johns Town Center area has several new projects under construction or planned.  Located within the Southside trade area, you can find better than average household incomes, solid daytime drivers with several hospitals and major business parks, and many residential developments. 

Meanwhile, retail space rents in Jacksonville are nearing their peak.  That peak is with owners in high-demand markets attaining $35-$40 per square foot (psf) in base rent alone.  For the most part, increased construction costs are driving these numbers in new projects.  Retailers are still paying these high rates, but only in A+ markets and A+ locations.


Whitney Butler is director of retail leasing at Franklin Street, where she specializes in retail landlord representation across Jacksonville and throughout North Florida and South Georgia, as well as, assisting in the expansion of local, regional and national retailers. She can be reached at 904.271.4120 or [email protected].

About Franklin Street:
Founded in 2006 during one of the toughest real estate climates, Franklin Street focused on delivering value-added solutions to meet the evolving needs of clients. Through a collaborative philosophy of leveraging the resources, expertise and experience of each of its divisions – Investment Sales, Tenant and Landlord Representation, Capital Advisory, Insurance, Property Management and Project Management – Franklin Street offers unmatched value and optimal solutions for clients nationwide. Learn more about Franklin Street at


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