Lakewood Promenade, a popular shopping destination for San Jose and San Marco residents, is under new ownership. 

Sleiman Enterprises, a company owned by San Jose resident Toney Sleiman, announced the acquisition May 8 of the open-air shopping area that lies at the crossroads of San Jose Boulevard and University Boulevard West in Lakewood.

Sleiman’s entire real estate purchase consists of five commercial parcels totaling 200,000 square feet and is home to 47 retailers, said Michael McNaughton, chief operating officer for Sleiman Enterprises. Included among the parcels is 5612 San Jose Boulevard, home to ORH Oriental Rug House; 6012 San Jose Blvd., home to Chase Bank; 1525 University Blvd. W., home to Anytime Fitness; 1526 University Blvd. W., site of Winn-Dixie and Stein Mart, and 1607 University Blvd. W, home to Mojo Bar-B-Que.

On May 6, Sleiman closed on the property, which was previously owned by KRG Lakewood LLC, a limited liability company owned by Kite Realty Group Trust, a publicly traded business headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. As of press time, the purchase price for each parcel was not listed on the Duval County Public Property Appraiser’s website, but the collective total of the 2019 market value listed for all five parcels as owned by KRG Lakewood LLC is more than $18 million.

“To own such a renowned retail destination in one of the country’s fastest growing cities was an opportunity the company was unwilling to pass up, especially as Jacksonville’s largest privately held owner/developer of retail,” said Sleiman, CEO of Sleiman Enterprises in a press release. “There are very few retail destinations in the country that provide this magnitude of an opportunity to not only control a key retail intersection, but also enhance the current retail line-up through re-merchandising and community engagement.”

Sleiman Enterprises is one of Florida’s largest privately held real estate companies, owning and managing more than 5 million square feet of retail space across 130 retail properties in Florida and the southeast United States, according to the press release. The 65-year-old company, which was founded by Sleiman’s parents, Eli and Josephine Sleiman, specializes in owning outdoor, open-air retail centers and has properties throughout Jacksonville as well as in Florida, George, Tennessee and Virginia.

McNaughton said the Lakewood Promenade was 82% tenant occupied. Although plans are in the early stages, Sleiman Enterprises intends to make significant renovations to all five parcels, McNaughton said. “We have already met with a variety of architects. We believe the capital we will spend through a combination of physical improvements – more amenities, making the area more pedestrian friendly in the way of outside seating, and a focus on landscaping – will greatly enhance the area. We want to enhance the curb appeal of the property coupled with physical modifications to the center itself, improving and upgrading the style and condition of the property on all sides of the street through better signage, better wayfinding and better pedestrian connectivity between the parcels,” he said, adding he especially wants to extend the “dwell time” spent at the shopping center by its patrons. 

The challenge is in making the place “more interesting and compelling so that if you are a neighbor you can either walk to or arrive and not feel the need to just shop and leave so quickly,” McNaughton said. “We would like to offer uses that will extend people’s willingness to stay there for a variety of other reasons, whether it be dining, or shopping, entertainment or other things. That’s the primary driver for us.”

Also, in the works is finding a way to partner with the City of Jacksonville improve adjacent Crabtree Park. “I met with the head of Jacksonville’s Parks Department to understand how the City of Jacksonville was programming the parks and in what ways we may be able to partner with the City to improve Crabtree’s operations and use,” he said. “That will be our first step in finding ways to work more closely with the City to enhance public space for the community. 

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