The Skinny

Jacksonville-based Silverfield Group proposes to demolish the former Edgewood Theater in Murray Hill in order to redevelop the property with a three-story storage facility. In addition, the project would include a retail component in a smaller one-story building along Edgewood Avenue. Preliminary site plans by Connelly & Wicker, Inc. show 4,845-square-foot retail building at the intersection of Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street, with the three-story, 97,200-square-foot self storage building constructed on an existing surface parking lot at the intersection of Plymouth Street and Nelson Street. To pave the way for the project, an application for administrative deviation from certain zoning requirements has been submitted to the City of Jacksonville.

Silverfield would demolish the former Edgewood Theater at the intersection of Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street to redevelop the site for self storage and retail uses.

The Challenges

While certainly well-intentioned, simply opposing the construction of a storage unit on this site is not the most prudent strategy from a legal standpoint. The property in question is zoned Commercial Community/General-1 (CCG-1). A storage unit facility is a use by right for properties zoned CCG-1, meaning a storage unit on the property is legally permissible and not subject to any special review by the City of Jacksonville. While some relief is being sought for parking and building setback through the Administrative Deviation process, a persuasive argument could be made that there is sufficient economic site constraints and legal precedent given that three nearby storage facilities in the Brooklyn and MixonTown neighborhoods received similar accommodations. The bottom line is that self-storage building could easily be constructed here - or anywhere on Murray Hill’s Edgewood Avenue, given that nearly the entire commercial district is zoned CCG-1.

Even if the city denied the applicant’s proposal, it would likely result in intervening court action. Bluetiger Properties, a joint venture between real estate developers Framework Group LLC and MTC Corp, had proposed to build an eight-story mixed use complex in Tampa’s Channel District. Plans called for 305 apartments, 11,581 square feet of ground-level retail space and 140,000 square feet of self-storage space. The storage units were to be located next to a Tampa Electric Company transmission station. Zoning laws allowed that up to 40% of the proposed structure could include self-storage space. Officials and residents opposed the project, and Tampa’s zoning board denied it outright in November 2018.

However, the developers argued that the plan fit the site’s zoning and that there was demand in the area for storage, considering that the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development had already broken ground nearby. In January 2019, Bluetiger Properties sued the city for improper application of land use laws, seeking to reverse the project’s denial and to recover financial costs associated with that denial.

Locally, well-intentioned yet legally perilous opposition to the proposed Roost restaurant in Riverside and a proposed affordable housing development in Springfield have led to years-long legal battles, crumbling buildings and, in the latter case, a nearly $2 million financial judgement paid for by taxpayers. A denial based on the “Not In My Backyard” principle is unlikely likely to be upheld in a court of law.

NEXT: A Way Forward Based On Compromise