This article reinforces everything I’ve been saying about the importance of Arlington from a location perspective and redevelopment perspective. Arlington is close to every part of Jacksonville – from downtown to the beaches, and property can be purchased and renovated for much less than new buildings can be built.
As your city councilman, I will support and encourage the city of Jacksonville to embrace efforts like these to bring Arlington back to its former glory.
That run-down Bethelite property along the Arlington Expressway hasn’t been much to look at.
But where passers-by have been seeing weeds, graffiti, broken glass, empty buildings, fallen fences and junk, its owner envisions potential.
The South Florida ownership group of the 55-year-old vacant and deteriorating motel and conference center along the Arlington Expressway wants to redevelop the property into apartments, hotels, a restaurant and retail uses.
The 18.7-acre site at 5865 Arlington Expressway was developed in 1964. It long served as the Thunderbird Motor Hotel and Thunderbird Dinner Theatre, catering to the new neighborhoods popular with young executives working Downtown.
Its heyday passed. The property was sold several times and has been unused for more than a decade.
At-large Group 2 City Council member John Crescimbeni, who has represented the area for a total of almost 20 years, calls the expressway property “an important piece of Arlington’s past and future.”
“It will take a bold, courageous developer with the financial resources to do something that has happened in other parts of the community,” he said, such as the resurgence of the Brooklyn area near Downtown. Crescimbeni said Arlington has the three most important assets in real estate – “Location, location, location. It’s a skip to the airport, it’s a skip to the beach and it’s less than a skip Downtown,” he said.
He envisions the Thunderbird and the Town & Country site as potentially similar to the resurgence of the Brooklyn area near Downtown.
Current Condition of the Property
What Could Be
The geography is what attracts the developer.
“It is up-and-coming. We really believe in this location,” developer Shmuel Bonnardel said of the area, which is east of University Boulevard and the Town & Country Shopping Center.
The site is 3 miles across the Mathews Bridge and St. Johns River from the Downtown Northbank and urban core. And it’s a straight 13-mile shot to the Beaches.