Excerpted from First Coast News story.
NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. — There are new plans for the lot where the old Kmart sits vacant in Neptune Beach. TriBridge Residential and TLM Realty announced plans Monday for shops and a hotel development called Saltwater Row.
According to developers, the first phase of the project will include space for shops on the ground floor, possibly a cafe, a brewpub and a yoga studio. A 44-room boutique-style hotel is planned for above the shops.
The second phase of the project will include a 150-room upscale hotel, according to the plans.
Some neighbors in the area protested plans before Saltwater Row to build apartments on the property. Residents Monday said they have mixed feelings about this project due to concerns about potential traffic.
“The thing that I don’t particularly like is instead of apartments, we’re getting a hotel and the hotel is going to have much more frequent turnover than the apartments would’ve had,” resident Todd James said.
“Traffic will be a concern,” resident Dina Demarco said. “I imagine that it will get a little bit worse. It’s not too insane here. It gets a little bad. I think more people will come to this area, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good or a bad thing.”
Most agreed, though, that anything would be better than the vacant Kmart store.
“Right now, we have that vacant Kmart center that has just been sitting there, so, really, I think getting rid of that and anything there would be an improvement,” Demarco said.
The lot has sat vacant for four years. According to a press release from the developers, the goal “is to transform a sluggish plaza into a dynamic shopping and entertainment destination with curated retail, restaurants and hotels, attracting locals and visitors alike.”
Some residents welcome the possibility of new shops, though.
“The reason I’m excited about it is I think it’s sorely needed in this area to have some additional retail,” James said.
Demarco said as long as the new space is done right, she’s ok with it.
“I would say as long as it’s a small boutique hotel, I think that’s good for this area,” she said. “If you look at Hotel Palms, that place is great. One Ocean, that place is great. I think that those places do fill up and there’s a need for additional rooms, so I think if it’s done right, it would be a good addition.”
Construction on phase one is set to start in early 2020. The press release also notes Franklin Street Real Estate Services is pre-leasing Saltwater Row and has several letters of intent.
A representative for the developer wasn’t available for any additional comments.