Residents of Neptune by the Sea sent the developer for a proposed mixed-use apartment complex in Neptune Beach back to the design board after they voiced a number of concerns during a public meeting last week.
The plans, made public last Tuesday, detail a 313-unit apartment complex and 10,000 square feet of retail space at the location of the shuttered K-Mart shopping center on 500 Atlantic Boulevard. Additional planned phases of the development included 4,000 square feet of retail space to the west of Lucky’s Market, a 7,000 square-foot retail building close to Atlantic Boulevard and 20,000 square feet of either apartment units or retail space where marble contractor, the Belmari Showroom, is located.
Attorney Wyman Duggan, representing developer TriBridge Residential in the mixed-use complex, said residents’ concerns were enough to convince to the company to change its plans, although he couldn’t say what specific changes are being considered. He requested that the city delay the Community Development Board and City Council hearings on the project until January.
Neptune by the Sea is a residential neighborhood located just south of the proposed project. Clyde King, president of Neptune by the Sea Phase Three, said more than 35 residents attended the community meeting and unanimously opposed to the project.
He and other residents are against any kind of residential development going onto the property.
King said the plan as proposed will have two- to three-story apartment buildings sitting against the backyard property line of neighborhood homes, which would negatively impact the quality of life and property values.
He said the plan also doesn’t provide enough parking for the up to 313 apartment units proposed, providing extra strain to an area that already deals with limited parking. He said the proposed complex will also strain traffic in the beaches area, especially if all proposed apartment units are filled.
“This is a commercial district, we want something commercial there like nice shops, restaurants, boutiques,” said King. “Extend the town center west, making it a walkable area that is a desired location and destination. Not 313 apartments (with) 700 to 1,000 people on weekends, 600-plus at that location.”
He said his neighborhood is prepared to fight the developer every step of the way if the changed plans include residential development.
Neptune Beach Deputy City Manager Amanda Askew said the city received the plans Oct. 11. Her initial review found issues in codes and variances and asked for clarification on building height, parking calculations and landscape plans. A review of the resubmitted plans still needed further clarification.
The complex is a joint venture between TriBridge Residential and shopping center owner TLM Realty Corp.
Duggan said that the complex will include luxury apartments with a proposed average rent of $2,000 a month. The target market is young professionals who want to live near the beach or empty nesters who want to downsize.
Duggan said his understanding of the planning to add apartments rather than just retail is to better mesh with the focus of Neptune Beach as a residential city. He also said redeveloping a new retail is very challenging in the age of online shopping.
“Their thought is doing multi-family residential just north of Neptune by the Sea is consistent with that vision of Neptune Beach as a residential community,”said Duggan.
TriBridge officials did not respond to requests for comment.
TriBridge Residential is also the developer of Cottages at North Beach, a seven-building townhome complex at 102 Aquatic Dr., Atlantic Beach, that was completed this fall. Like the proposed Neptune Beach apartment complex, the apartments there are also described as luxury rental townhomes. Townhomes range from two to three bedrooms with an average monthly rent of $2,400.
A third luxury apartment complex, Ocean Blue on 2760 Mayport Rd., is nearing completion. The complex is scheduled to be finished by January, with an average monthly rent of $1,500.
Muhamed Becovic, owner of Becovic Management Group of Indiana and developer of Ocean Blue, said that luxury apartments are a market lacking in Mayport. He sees the area as a destination with Hanna Park and Beaches Town Center close by.
Ocean Blue is part of the increase interest in development and retail in the Mayport area.
“That’s what’s happening right now. You can tell by the price escalations and by the amount of calls we’ve been getting for Ocean Blue and our other properties. So it has definitely caught the eye of many investors,” said Becovic.