Becoming a city of its own Argyle, a family-friendly community of homes,
schools and businesses close to Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Interstate
295, has evolved from the farmlands it once was. Since its inception in the
early 1980s, the area, which includes part of Clay County, continues to be a hot spot for affordable,
quality housing. New subdivisions have spurred the growth of stores and
services to the area, including street lane expansions and additional public
A potentially long
commute from Argyle to work and school has been alleviated with the opening of
Branan Field-Chaffee Road, which connects Blanding Boulevard near Middleburg in
Clay County with Interstate 10 near Whitehouse. This is expected to further
recreation centers and churches dot Argyle Forest Boulevard. Children who live
in the Duval portion of Argyle attend Chimney Lakes Elementary, Jeff Davis
Middle School and Forrest High School. Clay County students from Argyle attend
W.E. Cherry Elementary, Orange Park Junior High School and Orange Park High
An established portion
of Argyle is Chimney Lakes, consisting of 1,677 homes in 2 separate
subdivisions. The property boasts 14 lakes, a recreation center, tennis courts,
volleyball courts, a swimming pool, basketball courts, horseshoes facility and
a covered pavilion. A white gazebo on scenic Twin Lakes is a popular place for
residents' parties and weddings.
Argyle residences have a median home value of $129,761.
Arlingwood ... Charter Point...Glynlea... Grove Park ... Spring Hill ...
Holiday Hills ... University Park ... Woodmere)
Traditional yet young From its earliest days of settlements during the Spanish
ownership of Florida, Arlington - the community west of the Regency Square
shopping area and north of Beach Boulevard - has played an important role in
Jacksonville's housing history.
During the 1800s, lumber
and grist mills were established and, after the Civil War, more homes were
constructed. It also was the site of religious colonies and a popular railroad
Starting in 1950 and assisted by the opening of the Mathews Bridge in 1953,
Arlington was the fastest growing area in Duval County for the next 20 years.
Arlington has since
mushroomed far beyond its original boundaries. Real estate professionals
familiar with the area see a renewed interest in some of the older homes,
especially those with waterfront property. Some of these homes date back to the
There are eight
elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school, Terry Parker.
Arlington Country Day, a small private school, also is in the area.
Jacksonville University and Jones College offer higher education choices.
Many home buyers are looking for resale homes in mature neighborhoods and
Arlington has a large price range to offer, from an average of $97,675 and up.
A drive-to neighborhood
Bordered by Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to the north, Atlantic Boulevard to the
south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Atlantic Beach offers a
small-town atmosphere with easy access to the ocean.
Stretching only about 25
blocks from north to south, Atlantic Beach is a closed-end community of about
14,000 with a neighborhood feeling. The town center, near the landmark Sea Turtle
Inn, is a popular gathering point with many quaint eateries and boutiques.
Atlantic Beach has
plenty of parks with opportunities for a variety of activities such as tennis,
racquetball, basketball, baseball and nature hikes, as well as playground equipment.
In addition, the Bull Recreational Area houses the Atlantic Beach Experimental
Theater, which puts on six to eight productions a year.
Students attend Atlantic
Beach Elementary and Mayport Middle School. Fletcher Senior High in Neptune
Beach serves the 9th through 12th grades.
Community activities are
an important part of the Atlantic Beach lifestyle. Popular events include the
Farmer's Market, the annual Dancin' in the Streets festival in mid-May, which
includes live bands, arts, crafts and food; a Christmas festival; and
parent-and-children camp outs in the city park several times' a year.
Although part of the
greater Jacksonville municipality, Atlantic Beach has its own mayor, city
council, police and fire departments.
Away from it all
Baldwin, a town of 1,600 in extreme western Duval County north of Interstate
10, was named for Dr. A. S. Baldwin, who led the successful fight to bring the
railroad to the area.
Beaver Street, once
known as the Old Spanish Trail, almost bisects Baldwin, which has its own
government, police and fire departments. There's easy access to 1-10 and to
U.S. Highway 301 and Jacksonville International Airport is 25 miles away.
Although Baldwin has had
its own government, fire and police departments, the town council voted to
disband its 17-member police force in December 2005. The Jacksonville Sheriffs
Office is scheduled to take over services in March 2006.
Baldwin students are served by Mamie Agnes Jones Elementary and Baldwin
Middle-Senior High School.
Baldwin is the end point
of the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, a 14.5-mile trail system for hikers,
in-line skaters, bicyclists and horseback riders. The trail runs between Imeson
Road and County Road 121, just past Baldwin.
Most Baldwin residents live in single-family older homes. The average home
value is $85,585.
Quaint bit of country
Bayard, off U.S. Highway 1 at the deep southern end of Duval County, was
founded in the 1800s to serve nearby sawmills and turpentine plants. Named for
a member of President Grover Cleveland's Cabinet, Thomas Francis Bayard, it was
a stopping point for wagons, coaches and Florida East Coast railroad trains
headed between Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
Now, it's a quiet,
quaint place and a stopping point for shoppers who crave garage sale-type
bargains at a popular antique village. Legend has it that the village was once
a redlight district.
Bayard is surrounded by
development, but is still definitely country. It is a short drive to The
Avenues mall and the Best Bet at St. Johns Greyhound Park, where horse and dog
races are simulcast. In addition, State Road 9A, which eventually will be a
loop around Jacksonville, connects to U.S. 1 by Bayard, while 9B is also
expected to connect to U.S. 1 just south of Bayard in the next decade. Also
close to the area, Baptist Medical Center South, a high-tech state-of-the-art
hospital at the southeast comer of Interstate 95 and St. Augustine Road.
Mixing it up
Local real estate agents have found for years that homes put on the market in
Baymeadows are quickly snatched up by buyers both from other parts of
Jacksonville and from out of town.
On any given day you might find families looking for starter homes,
empty-nesters scaling down in house size or growing families moving up in
square footage. The many apartments mean that Baymeadows is often the choice of
singles who have just moved to the city.
The landscape is a mix
of mature trees and large yards with the conveniences of city living. You don't
have to go far to get to the places you need to go, but you still have the
feeling that you live among nature
With Southside Boulevard
and an easy connection to Interstate 95 from Baymeadows Road, residents can be
downtown in 20-25 minutes - if traffic isn't heavy (popularity of the area has
brought increasing traffic tieups).
Nearby are The Avenues mall, Deerwood Village Mall and St. Johns Town Center,
an open-air mall with many stores and restaurants newer to the area.
The area has a range of
home types and prices, including patio homes, condominiums, townhouses and
single family homes. The average home price is $137,792. Many neighborhoods
include amenities such as tennis courts, playground equipment, pools, security
gates, soccer fields and parks.
While traffic congestion
can get frustrating at times, road improvements have occurred. Baymeadows Road
has been widened and the interchange of Florida 9A, Interstate 95 and
Interstate 295 was completed in 2005.
Public schools include Twin Lakes Academy Elementary and Middle School.
A tree lined spot
Straddling the eastern bank of the St. Johns River at one of its widest points
and nestled between Mandarin, San Jose and Baymeadows lies Beauclerc, an
idyllic, tree-lined neighborhood conveniently located with easy access to
Sections of the
neighborhood have developed an overhanging canopy, with the branches of trees
on opposite sides of the roadway interlocking high above and providing a shaded
pathway for residents and cars.
Beauclerc homes have
proven to be a great investment. values tend to be greater than those of Jacksonville
as a whole, with the average home value at $157,870. the area's larger lots
translate into homes with more floor space and bigger yards, some encompassing
more than half an acre. though many homes date from the 1970s, most homeowners
have steadily updated interiors, giving most properties a modern touch with few
renovations needed. home styles range from traditional to contemporary to
colonial, the variety of architecture stemming from the many different builders
who constructed homes over the years. many houses feature brick construction.
Beauclerc is centrally
located to shopping areas; proximity to Interstate 295 allows residents access
to many other parts of the city. The St. Johns River marks the neighborhood's
border, so boating is a popular recreational outlet. A number of marinas dot
the area, including the Epping Forest Yacht Club, a half-mile north of the
neighborhood. The club's centerpiece is a beautiful Spanish Renaissance style
mansion, originally built by a DuPont family heir in 1927.
Home buyers with
children are attracted to the quality and proximity of local schools. Area
students attend Beauclerc Elementary, Alfred DuPont Middle School and Wolfson
High School. Beauclerc is also home to the Bolles School's San Jose campus. The
private school founded in 1933 serves grades 9 through 12.
Beauclerc attracts a nice mixture of older and younger homeowners, is
culturally diverse and gives residents a sense of place hard to find in other
areas of the city.
neighborhood There are good things happening in Brentwood, a residential
neighborhood bordered by Interstate 95, Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and
The First Tee of Jacksonville, designed to make golf more accessible and
affordable for young people, began at the site of the old Brentwood Country
Club in December 2000.
The Brentwood library
branch at 3725 Pearl St. received $600,000 in renovations, and reopened in
And residents are working hard to reclaim their neighborhood from crime. Older
developments, such as 589-unit Brentwood Park, have reported fewer crimes after
massive rehabilitations. Repairs occur more quickly, federal laws help evict
criminals faster and more police patrol the area.
Brentwood is served by Brentwood Elementary.
Trying for redevelopment
The historically residential Brooklyn area, which borders LaVilla near the
central downtown district of Jacksonville, has seen its share of down times.
But neighborhood advocates are hoping for a resurgence that will include both
businesses and residents.
The Brooklyn area's name
has come up repeatedly when talk turns to art. In 1999, a group called Art Stop
was formed to discuss designating an official Jacksonville arts district. The
group focused on Park Street, which runs from Brooklyn, through Five Points,
into Riverside. At the time, an old drug rehab center was being converted into
the Brooklyn Contemporary Art Center, which was supposed to be the largest art
center south of Atlanta.
But the state Department
of Transportation demolished the bridge that linked Five Points with Brooklyn
as well as the center. Artists who had studio space in Brooklyn fled to locales
such as Springfield, San Marco and others to the Brooklyn Arts & Design
Center at 123 E. Forsyth St and a second campus at 2360 Myra St. in Riverside.
Where government taketh
away, though, it also giveth. In October 2004, Jacksonville approved the
Brooklyn Neighborhood Strategy Plan, which called for the creation of
mixed-income residential, parking and commercial development for South
Officials are also
hoping for a residential uplift (the 2000 Census shows about 24 percent of
homes in Brooklyn as vacant), using a town center concept such as in San Marco.
The neighborhood also lies in an Enterprise Zone, an area designated as a
target for economic development. Officials say its proximity to Interstate 95,
Riverside Avenue and downtown make Brooklyn a marketable area.
Cedar Hills / Confederate Point / Jacksonville Heights
There is a renewed
interest in the close-in neighborhoods of Cedar Hills, Confederate Point, and
Jacksonville Heights - both as residential communities and new retail and
commercial areas. These long-standing communities on the Westside lie east and
west of Interstate 295 along 103rd Street, and have experienced a resurgence in
the construction of new subdivisions, the remodeling of existing homes and
opening of new stores and shopping centers. The major thoroughfares that
connect these communities to Jacksonville include Old Middleburg Road, Blanding
Boulevard and Lane Avenue.
One of the last vestiges
of a simpler, country Jacksonville lifestyle, developments began in the area in
the '50s, '60s, and '70s, resulting in homes built in a variety of styles.
An extensive housing price range is one of the area's biggest assets. The are's
median home value is $118,700, with the average prices ranging between $50,000
and $200,000. Property values are increasing, but not skyrocketing.
Schools include Nathan B. Forrest High, Bishop John Snyder Catholic High,
Jefferson Davis Middle, Gregory Drive Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary,
Jacksonville Heights Elementary and Morse Avenue Elementary.
Residents are a short drive form the Cecil Field Commerce Center, an area of
light industry and several recreation facilities.
Diamond in the rough
There is a forgotten frontier in Jacksonville with an abundance of waterfront
property and pristine views of the St. Johns, Trout and Broward rivers and Dunn
Creek. It is an area where industry and nature coexist. Jacksonville's
Northside is a diamond in the rough, offering an expanse of land to those
desiring a quieter lifestyle and an area being mapped to handle growth with
Although the area has
been known primarily for industry, the tides have turned. People now see the
Northside as incredibly convenient to downtown, Jacksonville International
Airport (only a 15-minute drive), and varied recreational opportunities such as
Big Talbot and Little Talbot islands, the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and
Huguenot Park. The area also backs up to 56,000 acres of the Timucuan preserve.
Three commercial strip
malls have opened or are on the drawing boards. One opened in 2003 at
Interstate 295 and Lem Turner Road and is anchored by Home Depot. Another, the
78,000-square-foot Duval Station Centre across from First Coast High School,
also opened in 2003 and is anchored by Publix.
The area has lots more space to expand with waterfront land available. The
average home price is $118,530, but waterfront properties can go much higher.
Deerwood and Tinseltown
Upscale with razzle-dazzle
The gated, golf club
communities of Deerwood and Deer Creek set the stage for this area of town off
Southside Boulevard. While there are numerous developments of moderately priced
condominiums, apartment homes and single-family residences off Southside,
Deerwood is the venerable locale with homes ranging from about $200,000 to $1.5
million or so. A new development in the area includes Old Mill Branch off of
Gateway, which has homes priced from the $240,000s to $480,000s.
office parks and car dealerships are close by, while The Avenues mall is a
15-minute drive away.
The Tinseltown area, north of the Deerwood-Deer Creek area, is named for the
CineMark Tinseltown Theater that was first on the site. Now, it has plenty of
company as the area is among the fastest growing spots in the city. Already
located there are numerous restaurants and nightspots, shops, hotel and
Upscale apartments near
Tinseltown and the St. Johns Town Center attract young singles, while luxury
condos have also gone up nearby. The area has also seen many apartment-to-condo
A real success story
Back in the 1920s,
Durkeeville was a desirable place to live. And it is today. Many changes have
taken place in the interim, though. Decaying public housing projects are gone,
replaced with nicely kept townhouses and single-family homes, a park and
association of the Myrtle Avenue neighborhood and the Durkeeville Historical
Society point with pride to the many positive changes. In 2000, Durkeeville was
honored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of the
top public housing areas in the nation.
The homes for low-income
families contain three bedrooms, two baths and a single-car garage.The
Durkeeville Historical Society, which opened a museum in 2000, is dedicated to
telling the stories of many prominent African Americans from the area, such as
Charlie "Hoss" Singleton, who wrote Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the
Night, among other hits.
Eclectic and vibrant
Five Points - named for
where Park, Margaret and Lomax streets come together from five directions - is
really part of the Riverside area, but stands on its own because of its unusual
nature. Colorful storefronts, restaurants and funky specialty shops, some with
a lot of 'tude, make up the retail part of this area. Within eyesight and
walking distance are schools, churches, parks and the Cummer Museum of Art
& Gardens. You can see young folks with numerous piercings as often .as you
see men and women in business suits at the Publix supermarket and Starbucks
coffee house In 2005, a project was completed to give the heart of Five Points
a makeover by redoing the walks and adding lighting and benches. Work is
continuing to convert an old theater and nightclub into condos.
values have steadily gone up; two-story homes that went for $50,000 to $80,000
a decade ago now go for $400,000 to $500,000.
Fort Caroline and East
Still a popular settlement
Fort Caroline is an area
less than 15 square miles east of downtown Jacksonville on the southern shore
of the St. Johns River. It's a glimpse of old Florida with breathtaking views
of rolling terrain and stately oaks.In their leisure time, families in Fort
Caroline take advantage of their natural surroundings by hiking, exploring,
kayaking and fishing. They don't have to go far: a protected nature preserve is
practically in their backyard.
Fort Caroline National
Memorial, a part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, pays tribute
to early French settlement efforts with a replica fort exhibit and visitor's
education center. Just next door is St. Johns Bluff at Ribault Monument, a
memorial to Jean Ribault, one of the area's first explorers. The view from the
bluff offers a bird's-eye vista of the St. Johns River, once known as the River
Development continues to
soar, with such housing developments as Waterleaf, The Preserves at St. Johns
Landing, Kernan Forest and Summerbrook, all subdivisions that offer homes form
$200,000 to $299,000. Captiva Condominiums in Arlington offer one-, two- and
three bedroom condominiums beginning in the $80,000s. The average home price is
For home buyers in
search of country club living, one of the areas more established private clubs
is Hidden Hills Country Club, founded in 1965. Although new homes are going up
quickly, hundreds of acres in Fort Caroline will remain untouched because of
their historic standing.
Garden City and Dinsmore
Quiet lifestyle on city outskirts
The communities of
Dinsmore and Garden City retain the rural small-town appeal they have held for
decades. Residents who move here tend to stay, and many have neighbors they
have known for years. With the exception of Dunn Avenue and Interstate 295,
most of the area comprising Dinsmore and Garden City has been spared heavy
traffic and urban encroachment. These two areas have communities sprinkled amid
acres of forested and undeveloped land. Residents enjoy a friendly, rural
lifestyle in quiet neighborhoods filled with large private properties.
The area has new
single-family home developments including Trout River Landing, with homes from
the $140,000s to the $230,000s; Waterbrook Falls, with homes from the $150,000s
to the $190,000s; and White Oak Trail, with homes from the $160,000s to the
240,000s. The average home price is $207,854.
Woodwings, acreage near Jacksonville International Airport, is planned for
business and commercial development. The 328-acre Woodwings East is expected to
be used for warehouses, distribution centers and light industrial projects.
Dunn Avenue is the main
commercial district, but, because it also has several churches, people have
nicknamed it Church Road.
Locale is a big advantage to living in the area as it is close to Interstate
295 and the North Campus of Florida Community College at Jacksonville; only a
25-minute commute to the Orange Park Mall or Regency Square; and has a J.C.Penney-anchored
shopping center at Lem Turner Road and Dunn Avenue.
Gateway and Talleyrand
Full spectrum of real estate
It's a part of
Jacksonville that often gets overlooked, but Gateway and Talleyrand are
Renovations at Gateway Center, along with road improvements funded by the
Better Jacksonville Plan and new housing options, are bringing vitality to the
Gateway and Talleyrand areas, on the outskirts of Springfield and the emerging
downtown, were some of the earliest settled neighborhoods in Jacksonville.
Examples of early 1900s architecture still exist. Buyers are purchasing these
older homes and restoring them to their original glory.
Parts of Talleyrand are highly industrial, but the landscape is rapidly
changing. The opportunity to own riverfront housing downtown in former
industrial areas has become a reality. The Plaza at Berkman Plaza and Marina, a
high-end condominium and townhouse project at 400 E. Bay St., welcomed its
first residents in 2002. Developments at the former Jacksonville Shipyards, an
off-again, on-again project, still is on the drawing board.
Andrew Jackson High
School and Jean Ribault High School, two of the oldest public schools in Duval
County are the neighborhood high schools.
A place like no other
When you stop in one of
the neighborhoods along the Intracoastal Waterway, taking in its vibrant
ecosystem, you will see why so many residents have selected the area to call
their home. It is, for all practical purposes, the city's eastern frontier, not
quite the Beaches, not quite Jacksonville. It is a unique community, a place
like no other in Northeast Florida.
Beautiful homes along
the Waterway allow residents to enjoy marsh breezes and have their boats right
at hand. Homes usually start in the $400,000s and go right up to $2 million.
But development hasn't
stopped with single-family homes. Spots along the Intracoastal have been tapped
for condos, such as Marina San Pablo off Butler Boulevard, the first tower of
which should be completed in late 2006 (with a penthouse price of $1.275
million). Other projects include condos at the site of the Lighthouse Grill and
at the Palm Cove Marina, both off Beach Boulevard at the Intracoastal.
As far as west of what
residents call "The Big Ditch," it hasn't been that long since Butler
Boulevard was a two-lane road, meandering through tree farms and row pastures
on its way to the beach. Begun simply as an access road to the University of
North Florida, it is now six lanes for most of its length and has brought shopping,
new communities and more roads.
Homes in the region
between Butler Boulevard along Hodges and Kernan roads to Atlantic Boulevard
appeal to people of every income level. The average home value is $176,887, but
there are new upscale neighborhoods with homes going for more than $1 million
and everything in between.
Gated golf communities,
such as Jacksonville Golf & Country Club and Glen Kernan Golf & Country
Club, have sold quickly. They are joined by the new First Coast Technology Park
on the University of North Florida campus and a new open-air shopping center,
the St. Johns Town Center, near the intersection of Butler Boulevard and St.
Johns Bluff Road.
Schools in the
neighborhood are already a big drawing card. Chets Creek, Sabal Palm and
Alimacani Elementary schools are highly rated, as is Landmark Middle School.
Both UNF and Florida Community College at Jacksonville have campuses in the
Atlantic and Beach boulevards have been widened in recent years, and a new
bridge is planned to replace the Intracoastal Waterway drawbridge on Beach
Boulevard. Butler Boulevard is to be widened to six lanes from Southside
Boulevard to Interstate 95, which should help traffic flow both into and out of
Residences range from
moderate homes starting at $175,000 to gated country club communities with
homes up to $2 million and more. The average home price is $148,017. Some of
the reasonable developments include Bentwater Place with homes from $150,000 to
$199.000; Pablo Bay, which offers homes ranging from $200,000 to $299,000; and
Highland Glen, which offers homes from $300,000 and higher.
Queen's Harbour Yacht
& Country Club, which has been steadily growing for the past 10 years, has
been a big hit with boaters because of its easy Intracoastal and St. Johns
River access through a freshwater lock system, and with golfers because of its
Mark McCumber-designed course. Resale homes begin in the high $500,000s and
range to $2 million.
On the south end of the
Intracoastal, just past Butler Boulevard is Marsh Landing, which opened in
1982. Prices from the high $400,000s to $6.5 million.
By the beautiful sea
After years of standing
in the shadow of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach is
finally coming into its own.
Formerly known as the beach commercial center, Jacksonville Beach was full of
businesses and residential rental property. It was a nice place to visit or
But as demand for homes
at the Beaches continues to skyrocket, more people have found Jacksonville
Beach's mix of everything from $1 million-plus oceanfront homes to the area's
most affordable housing quite appealing. The average home price is $213,435.
Of course, the resort
and laid-back lifestyle is Jacksonville Beach's biggest perk. The area is becoming
a community of the young and active. Head out on the weekends and you'll see
young people everywhere playing on school groups, bicycling along the ocean, or
riding the waves on surfboards.
Cultural, music and
entertainment events are often on stage in Jacksonville Beach. The SeaWalk
Pavilion, part of a $2.4 million downtown renovation project, is the focal
point of beach festivals, which bring everything from blues legends to Latin
bands to the stage. In the First Street entertainment district, you'll find the
Freebird Cafe, which mixes food, local band Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia and
every kind of music from old Southern rock to the newest local bands. Across
the street is the Bukkets Baha Beach Club, one of the longest continuously open
dance clubs in the city. Then there's Lynch's Irish Pub, with its traditional
Irish music some nights and local '80s or funk bands on others.
There's a vibrant arts
community throughout Jacksonville Beach - by day or night. You can hear
classical music performed at St. Paul's By-The-Sea Episcopal Church throughout
the fall as part of the Beaches Fine Arts Series and see a production by
Players-By-The-Sea, one of the Beaches' two community theater groups.
All this activity,
combined with some vigorous efforts by the city of Jacksonville Beach to add
new landscaping and other beautification efforts, adds to the demand for
Jacksonville Beach property.
Water, water everywhere
A neighborhood reaching
back from the shores of the Ortega, Cedar and St. Johns rivers, Lake Shore is a
family community that consists of both modest residences and waterfront homes.
The average home price is $128,298. It was primarily developed after the
Jacksonville Naval Air Station boom in the 1940s.
Because of its major road access - Blanding Boulevard, Cassat Avenue and
Roosevelt Boulevard cross the area - Lake Shore residents are a quick drive
away from shopping at Roosevelt Square, restaurants, the river with its many
recreational activities and downtown.
Lake Shore students are
served by Bayview Elementary and Lake Shore Middle School, a 1942 building that
underwent an almost $13 million renovation completed in 1999. The $2.9 million
Townsend Road drainage improvements, which were part of the Better Jacksonville
Plan, have been completed and have solved previous problems.
Bringing back vitality
From its years as a
bustling transportation center in the late 1800s to the time when it swung to
the beat of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughan, La Villa has had a
colorful past. Its busy railway depot attracted thousands of travelers along
Lee and Bay streets. In the early 1900s, its African American community of
houses and entertainment venues flourished.
Today, after decades of urban decay and a controversial revitalization plan in
the 1990s that left vacant lots where several longtime structures existed, La
Villa has been revitalized.
The Ritz Theater has
been restored to its former glory. The La Villa School of the Arts attracts
talented students from across the county. Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church on
Beaver Street opened a 5,000-seat sanctuary in May 2002. An increasing number
of businesses are expanding or developing offices.
While development in La
Villa - 770 acres north and west of the central downtown business district -
has been commercial so far, it is possible that residential living might be a
A bit of middle America
A distinct part of the
greater Mandarin area, Loretto sits between San Jose Boulevard to the west and
Philips Highway to the east. It is bordered to the north by Interstate 295 and
to the south by the county line.
Loretto was formed by
the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine. In the days of Reconstruction, Loretto
sprouted up next to the nuns' convent, dormitory and school. It is on what
became Old St. Augustine Road, the highway between Jacksonville and St.
According to Wayne
Wood's Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, the nuns were sent there to educate
both the residents and newly freed slaves.
As more and more new
Northeast Florida residents found the area's ancient tree cover, access to the
river and convenient location appealing, Loretto and Mandarin started to grow.
The area public schools
always have ranked high; Loretto Elementary earned A ratings on the FCAT in
2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002.
The average price for
homes that become available in Loretto is $196,800. Many homes are built on
some of the largest new construction lots in the area, and there are many
dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs.
Loretto is popular, too,
because of all its nearby amenities. Just about every merchant, service or
restaurant imaginable lines San Jose Boulevard.
Loretto definitely has a
solid, hometown feel. The neighborhoods are established. Parks and nature areas
are nearby. There are many places for kids to play. It's a bit of proverbial
Popular, family-oriented community
Bordered by the
Beauclerc area to the north, Julington Creek to the south and the St. Johns
River to the west, Mandarin offers residents a suburban, family-focused
lifestyle in an area that is quaint, charming and filled with history.
There are plenty of
choices for home buyers with prices ranging from $140,000 to more than $3
million for a riverfront home. Many Mandarin home sites have a canopy of large
trees that put nature's beauty on display.
Quality education is a
priority for most families considering relocation, and Mandarin is known for
its excellent schools - four elementary schools, two middle schools and
Mandarin Senior High School. The area also offers various parochial and private
The community is central
to Southpoint and Philips Highway businesses, making it a convenient commute for
those who work in that busy corridor.
businesses, performing arts centers and Alltel Stadium are within a 20- to
25-minute drive. Mandarin has a variety of shopping facilities and restaurants.
Most residents have a grocery store and pharmacy within minutes of their homes.
Several synagogues as well as various churches serve the religious needs of
Mandarin, which has about 40 houses of worship.