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Petition aims to stop development slated for site of shuttered Orange Park school

Supporters say developer would invest more than $70 million into town

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – There’s a land fight in Orange Park concerning a large development that’s being considered on Kingsley Avenue called the Kingsley Plaza.

If it’s approved, it’s slated for the site of the old Orange Park Performing Arts Academy, which was forced to close last year and many call an eyesore.

Orange signs sit on the property that show it’s up to be rezoned and possibly developed into Kingsley Plaza, with apartments, shops and perhaps a parking garage.

Orange signs sit on the property that show it’s up to be re-zoned and possibly developed into Kingsley Plaza.
Orange signs sit on the property that show it’s up to be re-zoned and possibly developed into Kingsley Plaza. (WJXT)

Supporters say the developer would invest more than $70 million into the town. But a petition is circulating to stop the development.

“I think that there’s going to be a traffic jam -- that many people living there and coming out,” said Paul Sharp, a resident of 40 years.

Sharp joins a vocal opposition who sounded off in the News 4 Clay County Facebook group on this issue, with comments like, "I’m angry. There’s not enough space. Those poor homes. I live close by and I’m dreading it being so close.”

Another comment says: “Too much impact. I am pro growth but Kingsley cannot handle that much impact.”

There’s also the petition opposing the development, which had more than 500 signatures as of early Sunday evening.

New4Jax spoke with Orange Park Mayor Alan Watt, who says there is a lot of misinformation circulating.

“Change is hard and change is scary, so people are afraid of change," Watt said. "The project is taking a derelict piece of land that’s been an eyesore for years and converting it into a multi- or a mixed-use.”

Watt says he would like some tweaks to the proposal, but it could be critical for the growing town.

“Change is coming. Development is coming. It’s hard,” Watt said. “We have a developer that’s willing to come in and invest $74 million in the town.”

It’s unclear what the Town Council will do. The town’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously rejected the proposal, but that doesn’t mean the Town Council will. Watt said it will be discussed and possibly voted on at their meeting on June 2.


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