Florida Times Union

Land is secured for Deerwood Lakes

By Earl Daniels Times-Union business writer

Wally Devlin and Mike Balanky were giddy yesterday. And probably for a good reason. After all, plans are moving as they expected on their proposed $140 million Southside project, Deerwood Lakes.

They recently purchased the land, they have secured deals for the construction of a Publix supermarket and a Sonic fast-food restaurant, and they say land clearing is expected to take place in January.

For $16 million, Balanky, Devlin and Devlin's father, Wally Devlin Sr., managing members of Deerwood Lakes LLC, purchased two pieces of land that make up 283 acres across Southside Boulevard from an area referred to as Tinseltown, from Gerold Rosenbaum and the Skinner family on Tuesday, Devlin said.

The site plans, which were filed with Jacksonville Planning and Development in June, call for the development of restaurants, stores and an upscale apartment complex.

The project is contiguous to Wyngate, a 120-lot single-family residential neighborhood being developed on 79 acres by Centex Homes.

As a part of a fair-share agreement with the city, the developer will spend $12 million to build a four-lane Gate Parkway extension from Southside Boulevard to Belfort Road.

The development group will donate 40 acres of land to the city to build a regional park.

Devlin said to arrive at this phase of the project required support from City Council President Matt Carlucci, the residents of the Secret Cove community, and officials of the planning and development department.

"This was an extremely complicated endeavor", Devlin said. Two-thirds of Deerwood Lakes consists of wetlands, including a 14-acre lake that is about 500 feet west of Southside Boulevard. The lake, which will be named Deerwood Lake, will serve as the centerpiece for the 15-building, 315- unit apartment complex and the 44,000-square-foot Publix grocery store.