An Interview with Melissa Glaslow, Director of Economic Development in St Johns County
by Christine Durkin
SJM: Looking at the exponential growth in the area’s residential communities these past couple of years, can we expect similar expansion in retail and commercial?
MELISSA: Whenever a residential market experiences this level of growth, the commercial side of things will inevitably follow. What’s been happening is typical in that commerce gauges critical mass, counting “rooftops” if you will, to determine and anticipate demand. What we see now is the commercial side really coming online, as well as the infrastructure to support it.
SJM: Can you tell us about some of the highlights of incoming commercial development?
MELISSA: Durbin Park, on Racetrack Road and St. Johns Parkway, is the largest commercial development underway at this time. Walmart opened there late last fall, and Home Depot is expected to open in March. There are another twenty retail stores slated to open later this year, including a Cinemark movie theater.
There will also be a commercial component in tandem with the continued residential expansion at Beachwalk. More than 1 million square feet is being designated for retail and even some industrial development. (This area is also close to announcing a new grocery store, but has not yet formally announced any retailers or commercial tenants in the development as of the time of this writing.)
Earth Fare grocery store will anchor the coming development on the NW corner of CR 210, and St. Johns Parkway, across from Publix. Sleiman Brothers is building the Shoppes of St. Johns Parkway. They expect construction to be underway this spring, and anticipate opening by end of 2019.
Another development, The Forum at Greenbrier, on CR210 has recently cleared property on the south side of CR 210, East of St. Johns Parkway, on the opposite corner of The Shoppes of St. Johns Parkway.
SJM: Can you talk about some of these infrastructure initiatives, such as roadways underway to support the ongoing expansion?
MELISSA: We’ve seen roadways being modified and expanded to support not only our internal transportation needs, but to ensure more fluidity in entering and exiting the area via I-95 and other major thoroughfares.
A case in point is the area where 9B joins St. Johns Parkway, heading south. The roadway currently dead ends at CR 210, but will ultimately connect with SR 16.That next segment is already underway and is expected to open this year.
SJM: What about schools?
MELISSA: St. Johns County is proud to offer the best schools in the state, and more schools are on the way. According to the St. Johns County School District, “with the approval of the ½ cent sales tax in 2015 dedicated to our school district, three schools were proposed to be constructed with those funds. They have since opened all three, including two in northern St. Johns County.”
The St. Johns County School Board opened two new K-8 schools in northern St. Johns County for the 2018-2019 school year. Palm Valley Academy is located in Nocatee at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081 and Freedom Crossing Academy is in Aberdeen located at 1365 Shetland Drive, Saint Johns, Florida 32259. The new schools will relieve overcrowding for kindergarten through eighth grades in northern St. Johns
County. For more information, visit http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/newschools/info//
SJM: The availability of quality healthcare is also a concern in areas of such rapid residential growth. What is underway or planned to help ensure area families have easy access to healthcare?
MELISSA: According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, Flagler Hospital recently purchased 4 acres for their Flagler Health Village at Nocatee. This facility will include a 30,000 square foot building encompassing family practice, pediatrics, specialty care, women’s health care and other community services. Construction is slated to begin this spring, with an opening date planned for summer 2020.Flagler has a similar development under construction in Murabella due to open in 2019.
Also in late 2018, Baptist Health purchased 12 acres in Nocatee for a healthcare campus and groundbreaking is planned for early 2019. According to the Florida Times-Union, as part of the new development, Baptist plans relocate its primary care office in Nocatee Town Center to the new location about two miles away. They also plan to offer extended hours and expanded team of caregivers at this location.
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