I wrote the following letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., which is supposed to be the contact for Sleiman Enterprises of Jacksonville, FL. This company  owns, for example, the land of the new Academy Sports, LA Fitness, Belk, and Earth Fare on Atlantic and McCormick.  Sleiman currently owns two of the three corners of McCormick and Kernan. Shortly after I wrote them (and did not receive a response), the gas station lot (southeast corner) was put up for sale.
 
After reading the 2002 comprehensive plan of the Wonderwood expansion, I realized that city planners did not recommend using the corner of McCormick and Kernan for retail. Here's what the planners said then:
 

Preferred uses would be professional offices, art galleries, dance studios or day care. These uses are preferred because they enhance the diversity of choices in the neighborhood while recognizing the corner location. Retail uses would not benefit the neighborhood because, as discussed under “Future Land Uses,” they are not needed and would negatively impact the residential character of the corridor. Therefore, no exclusively retail uses are recommended for this site.

I assume there was a change of heart at some point, since the property is zoned for convenience and gas rather than dance or art studio, as the planners back in 2002 had suggested. However, since the actual development has yet to happen, maybe its intended purpose can be thoughtfully reconsidered.
 
I am hoping that Faithbridge Church, Hope Comunity Church, and Grace Lutheran Church will be a part of the conversation regarding the potential convenience store, as well as the apartments on the west side of Kernan. This is especially true if the original developers are now selling off the property, since new owners might have a different vision.
 
As a longtime resident of Milwaukee with a college certificate in Urban Planning, I am aware that the public needs to have a voice in major developments. Those of us who live in Kernan Forest will be impacted greatly by retail and high-density apartments. Even as a newcomer to the area, I can tell that some sections of Arlignton were developed in a way that negatively impacted surrounding neighborhoods. I am hoping that Jacksonville has since acknowledged the importance of feedback from residents. The plans I have seen for the widening of Kernan seem to indicate there's a desire to consider pedestrian and bike safety, so maybe public sessions helped to push those concerns.
 
I'd honestly rather see a farmers' market and a park along with a pedestrian bridge than a gas station and an apartment complex, but maybe my neighbors don't care. Here's the unanswered letter I wrote:
 
Hello,
My family and I are relocating from Kansas City. My wife will be working at Grace Lutheran School, and we purchased a house in the Kernan Forest neighborhood. When I looked into the properties near the school and house, I found that your company owns a good portion of the land. I was impressed with your helping Faithbridge with their loan (I am not looking for a donation to Grace). It showed me that you care about your neighbors.
 
Since I am new to the area, and since I do not see a lot about your upcoming Kernan / McCormick project online, I thought I'd just ask. My kids will be attending a school right next door to a potentially high-density apartment complex, and we will live very close to a new convenience store, so I'd like to get a picture of what's in the works.
 
I am not against development, and I have college experience in the architecture/urban planning, so I'm not just someone who is looking to complain. I'd be excited if the apartments brought students to Grace or if they were geared towards retirees (my parents plan on relocating to the area). And gas stations are convenient when they are close. On the other hand, both retail and high-density housing can have drawbacks and reasons for concern.
 
I'd also like to mention that I build websites, since that is something that your company might want to consider, since the current site is dated and not mobile-friendly (according to Google- https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly?id=nXogB-M4mJ-SYVYQFKrgZA ).
Thank you for any initial information on the intersection you'd be willing to share. I will certainly be present at any community meetings addressing the use of the land at the intersection. I am sure you will want to get to know the folks at Grace if you have not already, since it is another important pillar in the community.
Thank you,

Brian

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