Midtown Centre: Nation's First Office Park For Sale

July 25, 2014 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Last year, Metro Jacksonville’s Ennis Davis wrote about the history of the nation’s first suburban office park, conceived and built here in Jacksonville. Today, Midtown Centre is on the market again, so we follow up on the park’s current status.

Among higher profile historic sites in Jacksonville, a property that can go easily unnoticed is Midtown Centre, the nation’s first suburban office park.

In the 1950’s, the idea of building an office park in the suburbs seemed absurd, but not to Ira McKissick Koger (1912-2004), who had Midtown Centre constructed just off of Beach Blvd, away from the thriving hub of downtown.

Today, the office park spans 763,000 square feet with 31 buildings on its campus. Since the park has been around for so long and many new additions have found their way onto the grounds, Midtown Centre doesn’t give the impression that it’s been around since 1957. Occasionally, there are signs — the dated architectural styles of form-follows-function office buildings from previous decades stand next to the more modern structures. The building at 1914 Beachway Rd is an eccentric looking historic structure, a time capsule for the futuristic and occasionally odd designs from the 1960’s. Once surrounded with glass windows that have been long since painted over, the building now sits unused. Two of the original buildings are still standing today at 4539 Beach Blvd and 4519 Beach Blvd.  

According to the Director of Leasing, John Fish, there are around 160 tenants and the office park sits at 70% capacity. Some of the largest tenants include the call center management company GC Services, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and Juvenile Justice. Several of the tenants focus on child-based services. Fish said that a third of the tenants are federal, state, and local government, and about 10% of the tenants are non-profit. Although there are a number of empty buildings, occupancy has remained stable. “The key thing here is retention,” Fish said, citing a close knit community that strives to keep the area safe and accommodating.

The community at Midtown Center is seeking to renovate and revitalize the area, including upgrading “existing features” of the buildings, adding crosswalks and sidewalks, and additional landscaping. Midtown Centre doesn’t give much of an indication of its history or its location, so signs that more clearly mark the office park are part of the community’s plan to improve the area.

In the midst of these plans, the owner of the office park, D Group Equities, has put Midtown Centre up for sale. When asked about the listing, executive vice president Desirée Dubón said that D Group’s “priorities are pulling us in different directions,” and that they are looking to “diversify location wise.”

D Group Equities is based out of Puerto Rico. Dubón says that D Group Equities saw a “good opportunity to expand on what [the previous owner] started.”

Article by Matt Stoops