JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Klotz Group of Companies has announced it received government approval to move forward in redeveloping the Morocco Shrine Center in Jacksonville.
Klotz, a Jacksonville-based private equity real estate investment platform, and KABR Group is planning a more than $200 million mixed-use development for the site’s nearly 37 acres off St. Johns Bluff Road near the University of North Florida and St. Johns Town Center.
The project, named The Village at Town Center, includes residential, commercial, office, hospitality and outdoor recreational space.
A manager representing the Morocco Shrine Center said the auditorium and property were too big to be sustainable for the Shriners organization. He said a new location hasn’t been announced but is planned.
According to News4Jax’s news partner the Jacksonville Daily Record, the 100,000-square-foot main temple building will be demolished to make way for 1,025 units that will be made up of luxury and market-rate apartments, 55+ and student housing, and a five-story hotel.
The plan also features 115,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space with public green space.
“The iconic Morocco Shrine Center is not just a great property in a great location, it is one that has impacted the lives of so many over the years by serving as Jacksonville’s de facto convention center,” Jeff Klotz, CEO of Klotz and a Jacksonville native, said in a statement. “So many of us share great memories attending a variety of events there, and as Jacksonville evolves into a top tier city there is an obligation to transform the site into something just as exceptional. The uniquely programed mix of residential, hospitality and commercial is meant to accentuate year-round enjoyment of the great North Florida climate and a love for all things arts, culture, and community.”
The two groups are set to close on the property in early November, and construction is expected to begin in 2022.
The Jacksonville City Council unanimously approved the zoning change last month.
Long-time Shriner Clayton Vandiver said he will be sad to see the iconic center go. His family was involved with the organization when it was built, and he said it has a special place in his heart.
“The circuses, the banquets, planning for the Shrine Bowl, it was just a fantastic place,” he said. “Always something dynamic happening year-round, all the time.”
Vandiver said it will be a “real loss to the city” but added that “the Shriners are still going to be here in Jacksonville.”
Bricks with Shriners’ and donors’ names, as well as statues, were being pulled out and put into storage.