The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with Cecil Commerce Center’s master developer, Hillwood Investment Properties, over objections of local businesses that the deal will depress surrounding land values.
The choice of Hillwood has not been questioned. But the price that the Dallas-based developer will pay for the 4,400 acres on the Westside has been an issue. Jacksonville Economic Development Commission Executive Director Ron Barton has defended the sale, saying it will cost $272 million to make the center’s land and infrastructure ready for development.
Opponents of the deal said the property is still undervalued and most Westside developers are faced with the same types of challenges, including wetlands and uneven ground. They have pointed to an appraisal by Keystone Consulting Group that valued the center’s land at an average of $90,000 per acre.
The approved deal sells the land to Hillwood for about $7,500 per acre.
Barton said the real estate market is not stable enough to gauge the property’s value, few developers can handle a project of such magnitude and the land isn’t of much value until a developer invests in it.