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Proposed development could be game changer for St. Augustine

Commissioners vote in favor of continuing to explore public-private partnership

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A local business owner wants to partner with the city of St. Augustine to help create a new gateway into the historic city. 

Barry Broudy owns a 5.25-acre property that sits on the northwest quadrant of the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and King Street. Currently, a large portion of the property is vacant, aside from his family’s liquor store, Broudy’s Wine and Spirits. 

Broudy grew up working in his family’s West Augustine grocery store, which used to sit on the same site only a few hundred feet away from where the liquor store is today. 

“I literally spent more waking hours in the grocery store than I did in my own home. As far as I’m concerned, West Augustine is home to me," Broudy said. 

The public-private partnership concept was presented to city commissioners on Monday night. 

The plans include a 1,100-space parking garage, affordable workforce housing, a pedestrian bridge, a grocery store, a new police station and a space for public transit.

City Manager John Regan told News4Jax he and Broudy have been talking about the concept for about six years, but about a year ago is when things got serious and earnest. 

“I have been working with Barry for him to understand what the community vision is and what our values are and how the property can fit into place to make the city a better city. This is a complete game changer for the city because it gives us a chance to unlock many of the issues that are holding us down in terms of traffic, congestion and parking. So, it really will have an economic value across the city in totality,” Regan said. 

Over the years, the local business owner has been approached by countless developers about the plot of land. Broudy said nothing ever felt quite right.  

“I have always known this property could be more than just another strip center. So in conversations I had with the city manager, John Regan, we were able to put together a plan that made sense to me, something that I wanted to do,” Broudy said. “It’s a legacy project. It is my way of giving back to St. Augustine."

Courtesy: Marquis Latimer + Halback, Inc.

Project plans include a residential tower and a mixed-use building with a total of 166 units meant for people who work in the historic city. The tower, including the roof, would stand between 60 and 65 feet tall. The mixed-use building will be about 50 to 55 feet tall. 

During the City Commission meeting Monday night, commissioners expressed concerns about height and density. Regan and Broudy agree the benefits of the plans far outweigh any drawbacks. 

“There are trade-offs with height and density and so we have to find ways to address those to the satisfaction of the community and to the City Commission,” Regan said.

“I think when you first see the renderings, when you first hear the concepts, it’s almost like a sticker shock. It’s like really? You want to go how high? I think when people see the benefits, the trade-offs with what we are asking for, greatly outweigh the drawbacks,” Broudy said.

City commissioners voted unanimously Monday in support of continuing to explore plans for a possible partnership.

Courtesy: Marquis Latimer + Halback, Inc.

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.