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New jobs, new look for St. Johns shopping center

10:25 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A new look and new jobs could be coming to the Seabridge Square Shopping Center. After sitting vacant for nearly a year, the building that used to house Kmart will be getting new tenants, bringing approximately 200 jobs to the area.

The roughly 90,000 square-foot building on U.S. 1 near State Roads 312 and A1A is already in the first phases of demolition. According to St. Johns County Planning and Zoning, the plan is to demolish most of the original building and build a brand-new one that's a bit smaller, to house not just one business, but multiple.

"It gets pretty busy around here," said Silas Washington, an employee at the Burger King in the shopping plaza.

Washington grew up in the area and says he was shocked when he found out the Kmart was closing up shop.

"I couldn't believe it. I used to go there with my great-grandma as a kid and play with the toys."

After the Sears Holdings Corporation shut down the store along with dozens of others throughout the country, it left a gaping hole in the shopping center, leaving many to speculate what would fill the space.

"I would like to see it be some place for the kids," said Washington.

"I would like it to be something different, like a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, something more upscale," said one shopper.

"Something more upscale to bring more people to the area," said another.

The property is owned by Selig Enterprises. According to Michael Blackford with Planning and Zoning, the tenants listed on its zoning application in December included Ross Dress for Less, Staples, Petsmart, Ulta and Total Wine & More.

"It experiences probably our highest traffic volumes and being that it's already an established commercial corridor, people are in that area looking to spend some money and shop," Blackford said.

Blackford said when it came to store selection, Selig did its due diligence by talking to the county to get a feel for what development was already happening in the area and what was needed.

However, he also said the company isn't married to those businesses, and can choose to change the number and selection of tenants.

It might not be just one building that Selig renovates, Blackford said. It also was approved for increased signage and facade improvements. Though some of those businesses already have stores in the area, Blackford said it's not clear yet if they plan to relocate or add new ones.

As far as an approximate timeline for this type of project, Blackford said construction can begin in 30 to 60 days from application approval. He says stores could be opening as early as late 2013.

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