Original proposed storage facility site plan

At the community meeting organized by Murray Hill Preservation Association (MHPA), the majority of the crowd took the opportunity to voice their displeasure at the idea of a self storage center being the highest and best use for a high profile neighborhood site that has been on the market for a year and a half.

Located at the intersection of Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street, Jacksonville-based Silverfield Group is proposing to demolish the former Edgewood Theater in order to redevelop the property with a 97,200 square foot, three-story storage facility. In addition, the project would include a retail component in a smaller one-story building along Edgewood Avenue. To pave the way for the project, an application for administrative deviation from certain zoning requirements has been submitted to the City of Jacksonville.

  • Reduce the minimum lot area from 87,120 feet to 52,272 feet

  • Reduce the setback on the east property line from 30 feet to 4 fet and reduce the setback on the south property line from 30 feet to eight feet

  • Reduce the minimum number of off-street parking spaces from 51 to three

  • Decrease the minimum number of loading spaces from three required to one loading space.

After shooting down misconceptions via social media, including a rumor that Trader Joes was interested in the property, additional project details were revealed on the behalf of the development team by Jacksonville attorney Steve Diebenow. This included new site plan with the footprint of a 5,000 square foot retail building and associated off-street parking at the intersection of Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street. Under the belief that the Murray Hill market can not support retail leasing rates for new construction, it was suggested that the self storage building would be essential for the subsidization of the retail component.

Celebrating its grand opening a few days ago and located a few blocks away, Fired Up Pizza occupies the most recent new construction retail building along Edgewood Avenue. (Fired Up Pizza)

Although no renderings or elevations of the project were shared, the development team indicated that local architecture firm Design Cooperative (DCOOP) would design the retail structure and an out-of-state firm would be brought for the self storage building. In addition, both buildings would be constructed at the same time. As a result of neighborhood push back and the development team still needing to submit additional information to the City of Jacksonville, there will be no public hearing on the administrative deviation application on May 24th as originally anticipated. That meeting will take place on either June 7th or June 21st following a second meeting with MHPA on June 3rd where concept plans of the project will be shared.

While a number of pros and cons can be made for or against the project, this development is another example of what comes as a result of an out-of-date zoning code that does not reflect or fit into the individual character of many neighborhoods throughout the city. As people have flocked back into downtowns and established neighborhoods with smaller residences, the $38 billion self storage industry has benefited by filling the need for those who need to store excess personal inventory.

A recently constructed mixed-use self storage building in Charlotte’s South End District (Morningstar Storage)

Experiencing push back nationwide, many cities such as New York, Miami and San Francisco have restricted self storage buildings to industrial districts. Others such as Charlotte have established zoning practices that require the bottom floor of self storage buildings in mixed-use districts to include at least 50% retail, office, or restaurant space. However in Jacksonville, this type of use is allowed in CCG-1, meaning that a self storage building could easily be constructed anywhere on Murray Hill’s Edgewood Avenue.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com