Q&A with St. Johns County Commissioner Jimmy Johns (District 1)

Q: Since we are in the middle of the annual budget cycle, do you have any updates?
A: The proposed budget is available on the county’s website, www.sjcfl.us. I encourage people to look at the budget and weigh in now. This is the time for staff to make any adjustments. Citizens can call my office and we can put them in touch with the department that can answer their questions. The key is to understand how to get funding for whatever it is that people are interested in.

Q: What can you tell us about the joint fire station and sheriff’s office that recently opened in the southern part of the county?
A: The funding for the joint Fire Station 5 and Sheriff’s Office South Regional Operations Center was approved about a year ago, and in early June, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the facility on U.S. 1 South. This facility will reduce travel time for emergencies in the area and provide for a more efficient and collaborative work environment for the two departments. The building also contains public meeting space available by reservation.

Q: Do you expect to see more of these types of joint facilities, possibly in the northern part of the county?

A: I do expect to see more of these joint use buildings in the future, but they do require a larger parcel of land for construction than a single use fire station. The new fire station being built along Veterans Parkway at Race Track Road was considered for a joint facility, but the piece of property was not large enough to support it.

Q: What can you tell us about the spec office building to be constructed along St. Johns Parkway?
A: By definition, the “spec” or “speculative” term means that the developer doesn’t have a tenant contract prior to permitting, but is so confident in the demand for the project that they expect to have a tenant before construction is completed. This is an indication to me that the St. Johns County economy is very strong. Office projects such at this, which will be known as Palms Professional Park, are needed for a stable tax base in the county.

Q: Does the county allow projects to be permitted without contracted tenants?
A: Yes, but the review project is very exacting. Only certain types of businesses will be allowed according to zoning for the property. Also, the county will specify things like the number of parking spaces required and the amount of green space necessary. Spec buildings like this will provide space for companies meeting the development’s requirements quickly.

Q: What is the latest news on tenants at Durbin Park Town Center?
A: This project continues to offer more shopping options for goods and services for our residents. To date, a listing of open businesses includes Walmart, Home Depot, Chase Bank, Gate, Mattress Firm, and Smoothie King. Businesses with anticipated openings in 2019 include Sprint, Burlington, Ross, Petco, Dollar Tree, Five Below, AT&T, Lee Nails, CareSpot, Hand & Stone Massage, Great Clips, Heartland Dental, Discount Tire, Verizon, Hair Cuttery, T-Mobile and Baptist Health. Restaurants will include Your Pie, Bonchon, Starbucks, Salsas, Keke’s, Firehouse Subs, Jana Japanese Steakhouse, and Kazu Sushi. The Cinemark 12-screen movie theater is supposed to open in the fall.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

A: Readers can email me at bcc1jjohns@sjcfl.us or call me at (904) 615-7437.