20 years ago, Freedom Commerce Center was the cream of the crop, when it came to suburban office parks. Once home to big corporations such as Florida Blue (formerly Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida) and CitiGroup, the 752,154 square foot office park anchored a burgeoning Baymeadows corridor. At one time, West Palm Beach-based Goodman Company even had plans to fill 230 acres of wetlands to construct a regional shopping mall at Freedom Commerce Center.
Then the wheels fell off the commerce center’s wagon. Like downtown, as newer developments came online, Freedom Commerce Center aged and declined to the point where it was characterized with a staggering 60% vacancy rate. By 2012, the Baymeadows office park had gone into foreclosure, creating an opportunity for Crocker Partners.
When Metro Jacksonville last checked on Freedom Commerce Center, Crocker had recently acquired the struggling office park for $27.8 million. At the time, Crocker had intentions of investing millions in the development’s renovation, in order to make it the apple of Baymeadow’s eye. Eventually, Crocker Partners branded the 54-acre office park “Prominence”, launching an $8 million “extreme makeover” of the development. Capital improvements include a new main entry, monument signage and modernization of three Class A office buildings.
The fruits of Crocker’s labor are already paying off. In April 2015, NGA Human Resources, a leading provider of payroll and HR services and software, inked a lease for 70,000 square feet at the office park. Taking up 70,000 square feet of space, NGA is expected to bring 450 employees to the area when it moves in by March 2016. With the redevelopment process reaching its midpoint, October saw the office park land another major tenant with the announcement of Southeastern Grocers’ intentions to relocate its corporate headquarters. The parent company of Winn-Dixie, BI-LO and Harveys plans to occupy 160,000 square feet of space in Prominence in early 2016.
Combined with NGA, occupancy at the office park has already been boosted by more than 30%. It’s clear that Crocker’s investment seems to be paying off, bringing the Baymeadows area back to prominence. Here’s a look at Crocker Partners’ 48 million investment being made at Interstate 95 and Baymeadows Road.
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at email@example.com