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Jacksonville Beach Restaurants Succumb to Multi Family Housing Boom


Just over a month after the First Street Grillís final New Years Eve bash, another popular eatery on the Intracoastal Waterway closes its doors for the last time on February 3rd. The Lighthouse Grill, located at the San Pablo River bridge on Beach Blvd. has been sold to Chase Properties, Inc., whose plan is to offer multifamily housing with Intracoastal access on the 2.4 acre waterfront site.

The new development, called Lighthouse Point, will consist of 37 townhouses designed in a West Indies tradition, and will sell from $650,000 to 1.5 million. Residents will also have the opportunity to own a boat slip on the property.

After denying a proposal to construct an 80í high, 94 unit condominium on the property two years ago, the city of Jacksonville Beach approved this project as the buildings fall under the cities 35 foot height limit, a restriction passed overwhelmingly by voters in the 2004 election that has until now been seldom enforced.

The trend in Jacksonville Beach has been for developers to buy up large parcels of land, tear down the existing structures, and put up 7 to 10 story condominiums. As a result, many of the popular restaurants and night spots that helped define the character of Jacksonville Beach have disappeared.

The most recent casualty was the First Street Grille, an oceanfront eatery and gathering place at 7th Ave. North. First Street Grille closed on January 1st after hosting a huge new yearís party attended by many local patrons of the establishment.

A circuit judge ruled in October that the developer who owned the property, Lee Underwood, had vested rights in the parcel because his decision to purchase the land was based on the governmentís position about the properties present and future status.

Arising from the dust of the First Street Grille will be the Acquilus III, a seven story oceanfront condominium. Underwood also owns the property across the street on which the Dolphin Depot restaurant is located. According to the same judge that ruled on the First Street Grille property, the rights for this parcel are not vested. Nevertheless, one could safely assume that the Dolphin Depots days are also numbered.


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