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- 2017 - April - 18th -

Proposed Arlington Wawa site sparks opposition

  • This office building at McCormick and Monument roads would be demolished to make way for a Wawa gas station and convenience store.

  • A rendering of the proposed Wawa gas station and convenience store at McCormick and Monument roads in Arlington.

By David Cawton, Staff Writer

More retail and office space could sprout at McCormick and Monument roads, to the dismay of some residents.

Anchoring the busy intersection would be one of several new Wawa gas stations and convenience stores coming to town.

A rezoning ordinance for the land, owned by Watson Realty Corp., is making its way through City Council.

The land is now zoned RPI (residential, professional and institutional). It allows for more than 82,240 square feet of development, with roughly 42,700 square feet available for retail. It does not allow the proposed gas station, where an existing two-story office building is located.

Rezoning the site would reduce the overall size of any proposed development to 60,000 square feet, with no more than 30,000 square feet available for retail and allow for the gas station to sit at the corner.

If approved, development plans call for six buildings, described as Lots A – F. Lot E, the existing office building, would be torn down and replaced with a 6,500-square-feet Wawa.

The other structures would be a mix of retail and office space, and roughly 7 acres would remain as conservation land.

The intersection is currently surrounded by shopping centers and residential areas, apart from the property along McCormick.

Some people want it to stay that way.

Lad Hawkins, president of the Greater Arlington Civic Council, is against the project, saying it would fly in the face of already established ordinances.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to make this area not look like Atlantic Boulevard,” Hawkins said.

Although he declined to give a specific number of members, Hawkins says GACC represents dozens of neighborhoods and hundreds of residents in the Arlington area.

He said GACC members voted overwhelmingly to oppose the development, partly based on a 2002 Wonderwood Corridor Land Use and Zoning Study.

The future land use section of the study suggests that additional commercial development in the area might have a negative impact on the nearby neighborhoods.

Hawkins said the 15-year-old study is still relevant.

“The Wonderwood Corridor wasn’t built for big businesses, it was designed so people could go from the beaches and the base (Mayport Naval Station) to the rest of the city with ease,” he said.

Representatives of the developer, Brightworks, declined comment.

Brian Duke, regional real estate manager for Wawa, said the project has been well-received by people he’s met at community meetings.

“We generally try to understand the neighborhood and the makeup of a community for any proposed sites,” Duke said. “We’ve received considerable support from that immediate area.”

Duke said he hasn’t met many people opposed to the project, minus a few. He said he thinks they aren’t seeing the bigger picture.

“What they don’t take into account is the existing zoning, which would allow for the developers to build something much bigger,” he said. “Our part removes the large office building and replaces it with a much more appealing 6,500-square-foot business that people would actually use.”

While he can’t speak for the rest of the development, Duke said his company has made a few slight adjustments to the architecture and landscape design of their prototypical station and convenience store concepts to better fit the area.

“We want to be entrenched in the community, and we’ve made some minor changes to do that,” he said.

Duke said like any retailer, Wawa alters its stores from time to time, depending on the neighborhood or overlay district. Wawa’s Florida variation, he adds, has been well received so far across the state.

The rezoning ordinance, introduced as 2017-221, is in council review.

The next public hearing is scheduled April 25.

dcawton@jaxdailyrecord.com

@DavidCawton

(904) 356-2466

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