Residents react to development at Oakleaf Town Center

Some residents express traffic concerns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Oakleaf Town Center is expanding as numerous new businesses are under construction in the area.
There's a lot of growth in the shopping plaza near Argyle Forest Boulevard and State Road 23, and a major road project is a big reason for it.

Jimmy Hula’s is the latest business set to open soon at the bustling town center. News4Jax spoke to shoppers and residents who said they’ve seen growth in the area for years.

"It's going to hurt the traffic," resident Johnny Bryan said. "I don't drive. I ride a bicycle, so it's going to hurt a lot of traffic. Going to have to pay a toll road."

The boom is expected to continue. Late this year, the area's biggest road construction project, the outer beltway project, will have completed its first phase, which will be a toll road that’s slated to connect Interstate 10 on Jacksonville's Westside with Interstate 95 in St. Johns County.

Area resident Mike Suan told News4Jax he thinks the increased development on his side of town is in large part due to the density on the city’s Southside.

"(I) don't feel like they have any room over there anymore, so they come over here," Suan said. "(It's) a little less expensive. It's not as crowded as the Southside."

The new toll road is expected to bring a lot of traffic and new business opportunities to the area. Recently, a Zaxby's restaurant opened and more gas stations are expected soon. Area residents said they think there’s likely a lot more to come.

"I hope not," Suan said. "Where I live is where I grew up, and back then, Normandy was a two-lane road. It's gotten a lot more traffic. A lot more congested. Just a lot more crowded than it used to be."

While the outer beltway project will be a toll road, people can still use the local bypass roads, such as Argyle Forest Boulevard. However, that may mean more traffic and more customers for area businesses.

"It's good because I have more choices to eat around here, but a lot of traffic," resident Rebecca Colon said.

There is more development on the Westside as Costco gets ready to build its second location off Collins Road. But not everyone is happy with the signs of progress, and some are pushing back.

Residents in the neighborhood have to deal with the loud sounds of construction starting around 7 a.m. Once the project is complete, they'll have an entirely different view out their back windows.

Neighbors told News4Jax they received a letter from the general contractor saying Costco will be replacing all of the neighboring properties' fences. They're told they will install new 8-foot-tall privacy fences sometime next week.

However, some still are worried about their privacy. One area used to be a 40-acre tree farm.

"We built privacy screens just around our little pool and our back deck area because you can look directly into our backyard from the job site -- just so my wife and daughters can be in the pool and have some type of privacy," Brandon Shelton said.

Another neighbor said the development itself doesn’t bother him. He's worried about traffic cutting through the neighborhoods.

A sign out front said it will be opening in fall of this year, but there is no word on an exact date.

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