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Christian Oldenburg speaks on First Baptist Church's decision to downsize its 1.5 million-square-foot Downtown campus

Developers say the church's decision to sell nine city blocks Downtown presents a rare opportunity.

First Baptist Church’s announcement that it will downsize its 13.7-acre Downtown campus put developers on notice that nearly 1.3 million square feet of buildings would soon be on the market in the city’s urban core. 

First Baptist has proposed selling nine city blocks — six contiguous — in response to declining church attendance and a growing multimillion-dollar maintenance bill on its aging 1.5 million-square-foot property. 

Zoned as Central Business District, or CBD, Jacksonville real estate brokers, developers and city officials say the sale is a rare opportunity.

“There’s virtually no limit on what you could do here,” said Christian Oldenburg, managing director of the Colliers International Northeast Florida commercial real estate services company.

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“The developer’s risk appetite and creativity will determine what the land’s worth,” he said.

First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Heath Lambert said Sunday the church will sell 12.17 acres of its 13.7-acre holdings Downtown. The site is bordered by Union, Pearl, Church and Main streets.

According to the Duval County Appraiser, the property for sale is on 15 parcels.

First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Heath Lambert said Sunday the church will sell 12.17 acres of its 13.7-acre holdings Downtown. The site is bordered by Union, Pearl, Church and Main streets.

According to the Duval County Appraiser, the property for sale is on 15 parcels.

Oldenburg said the difference between development on the First Baptist campus and other proposed large-scale projects in Downtown, like Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan’s $2.5 billion Shipyards plan, is the land is not city-owned. 

“The distinction I’m drawing is the level of control the city has over what happens here. It is a private transaction,” Oldenburg said. “They have control in the sense that they can decide what the entitlements are and what can or can’t go there in terms of uses, but they’re less in control of the transaction process.”

The First Baptist Church campus is adjacent to City Hall. Lambert said Sunday he has been keeping Mayor Lenny Curry’s office informed.

What’s the price?

First Baptist officials haven’t announced the properties’ asking price. Oldenburg said there are many variables, including the cost to demolish or repair existing structures, that will determine that number.

A starting point could be $40 per square foot for the land, which would price the land at $21.2 million. 

There is a precedent for selling a full city block in Jacksonville. 

Oldenburg said the closest comparison is the former Florida Baptist Convention complex. That facility occupied a block on Hendricks Avenue in San Marco and sold for $6.15 million to Chadbourne II LLC in June 2017.  It will be redeveloped into 345 apartments, parking and 5,500 square feet of retail space.

Extending that sale price by nine blocks would put an estimated listing price for First Baptist’s Downtown campus at $55.35 million.

Duval County Appraiser Jerry Holland, a 40-plus-year member of First Baptist, said it’s difficult to determine the market value until an analysis is done on the usability of existing structures. 

Lambert said the total deferred maintenance cost is $37 million. Holland said the asking price will depend on which structures can be reused and what needs to be demolished.

Oldenburg agrees.

“For example — parking garages. Those are an important piece of the equation. Any future developer would like to maintain them, especially someone coming in to get density. That’s valuable space,” he said.  

Lambert expects to have a real estate broker within two weeks for the property, which has been generating market attention.

“We’re already receiving offers on the property without a formal relationship with a broker,” he said. 

The 15 parcels could be sold in pieces or as one large property. Oldenburg said finding a master developer for the 12.17-acre site would generate the best project for Downtown.

 Read more about First Baptist Church's decision to downsize.

Source | Jax Daily Record | Mike Mendenhall

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Christian Oldenburg

Executive Managing Director, North Florida


Christian Oldenburg is a dynamic commercial real estate executive with 17 years of experience and total transaction involvement in excess of $1 billion. As the Managing Director of Colliers International Northeast Florida, Christian is responsible for all aspects of Colliers’ operations in the North Florida region, with a focus on financial management, development of human capital and new business generation. Christian leads a team of 35 brokers and 15 support staff who are focused on advising clients who wish to sell, purchase or lease retail, office, medical, industrial, land and multifamily assets. Christian also collaborates with the firm’s Real Estate Management Services and Valuation and Advisory divisions on identifying and sourcing new business opportunities.

Christian’s real estate career began with Northmarq Capital as an Investment Analyst, a role in which he assisted in placing more than $350 million in debt and equity financing. He further developed his career with Regency Centers, where he held multiple financial and operational roles over his ten-year tenure culminating as Vice President of National Property Operations. Most recently Christian served as Senior Vice President of Block One Ventures – the real estate investment arm of a significant local family office. In that role, he oversaw all aspects of the company’s operations with a focus on ground-up development and asset management of land and multifamily assets valued around $300 million.

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