Developers demolish Jacksonville’s Morocco Shrine Center with eye toward apartments, shopping

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Out with the old and in with the new.

The iconic Morocco Shrine Center on St. Johns Bluff Road is now officially just a memory. Crews tore it down Wednesday to make way for new apartments, shopping and a hotel.

The city of Jacksonville issued a permit Jan. 27, showing the demolition of the structure cost $471,000.

The Morocco Shrine Center was built in 1985 but was expanded in 1990 and the property is now 36 acres.

“It’s kind of a disappointment, but we know the future has to come,” Mark Hudson, the potentate for the Morocco Shriners, said Wednesday, surveying the rubble that was once used as a convention center to host weddings, social gatherings, holiday events, concerts and trade shows.

According to our partners at the Jacksonville Daily Record, the iconic grunge band Nirvana even performed there.

Morocco Temple Association Inc. sold the Morocco Shrine Center building to Town Center East Acquisition, LLC of Atlantic Beach in November 2021 for $16.48 million, according to the Daily Record.

The Morocco Temple Association Inc. is now working on a new headquarters in Orange Park.

“I’m excited to see what they’re going to do with it. I’m excited for us because we have a new location that is going to be more suited to our membership. And we can grow big enough to do this again,” Hudson said.

An artist’s rendering for the Klotz Group of Companies shows what the new development on the Morocco Shrine Center property will look like once it’s finished. It will be known as the Village at Town Center and will include luxury and market-rate apartments, communities for residents 55 and older, student housing, a hotel, plus shopping and retail space.

Rendering of redevelopment of Morocco Shrine Center site. (Provided by The Klotz Group of Companies)

Jeff Klotz, owner and CEO of the development group, said it’ll bring thousands of jobs as well.

“This was a great property. It served Jacksonville in a group way for many years, and we’re just thrilled to death to be able to continue its legacy,” Klotz said.

The developers hope to break ground on the project later this year. It’s expected to be a seven-year project in the making.

Hudson and the Shriners were presented with the original cornerstones dedicated at the center when it was first built. Hudson said the Shriners have a new home that’ll soon be up and running.

“We have a new location over in Orange Park. We purchased it after we closed this down,” Hudson said. “We’re in the process of finishing up the remodeling over there. Hopefully, by March of this year, we’ll have 100%. We have 90% now.”

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.

Marilyn has been Digital Director since October 2021. She supervises Jacksonville's number one news website and most trusted source for local news.