Finding new life for old Kmarts
Between 2012 and 2017, the First Coast witnessed every local Kmart store being closed as the long time national retail chain struggles to survive. In a city filled with an increasing amount of mostly vacant retail centers, former Kmart stores have become redevelopment beacons. Here is a look at the fall and adaptive reuse rebirth of six former First Coast Kmarts.
4645 Blanding Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida
After serving the Westside since 1969, this 103,317-square-foot Kmart store closed in 2013, laying off 84 in the process. After sitting vacant for seven years, construction recently started on the adaptive reuse of this 11.36-acre site into a last-mile delivery center for Amazon.com. The former Kmart’s massive surface parking lot will be revamped to contain spaces for 129 delivery vans and 231 cars. The company will use the old Kmart building as a distribution hub that will receive line-haul truck deliveries of packages that will then be sorted by route and placed in delivery vans. Amazon plans to hire 200 workers when the $12 million project is complete. The Seattle-based e-commerce company plans to open more last-mile delivery centers throughout the city. Luckily for them, Jacksonville is full of vacant strip malls with former big box stores that could be perfect for such a use.
5751 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida
In 1969, Kmart opened at the intersection of Beach and University boulevards, anchoring the growth of Englewood and the Southside. Electing not to renew its lease, in 2012 it became the first Kmart store in Jacksonville to close in the past decade. The closure resulted in a loss of 71 jobs. Six years later, it became the first of the city’s abandoned Kmart locations to be proposed for redevelopment when locally based Hallmark Partners acquired eight acres of the store’s parking lot. Hallmark has since embarked on redeveloping the store’s parking lot into a $12 million retail, restaurant and professional office infill development called Boulevard Crossing. As for the store itself, Florida-based Rapid Building Solutions LLC plans to revamp the building into a 100,000-square-foot, climate-controlled, 800-unit self-storage facility. The renovation project is expected to become a $7 million investment.
500 Atlantic Boulevard, Neptune Beach, Florida
Completed in 1970, the Kmart store in Neptune Beach closed its doors for good in 2016. Plans are now moving forward for the redevelopment of this property into a mixed-used development called Saltwater Row. Unlike the other Kmart redevelopments, this project will raze the entire 84,904-square-foot building. In its place, developers TriBridge Residential and TLM Realty Corporation plan to construct 30,000-square-feet of retail, a 44-unit boutique hotel and a 150-unit upscale hotel.
(Conceptual site plan rendering courtesy of Saltwaterrow.com)