St. Johns County’s World Commerce Center has never fully lived up to the lofty expectations it began with, but two new major commercial tenants could help serve as the catalyst needed to fill out the mixed-use center.
Buc-ee’s, the Texas-based mega-convenience store chain, is currently in the process of building its long-awaited 104-pump station – and 52,600-square-foot convenience store – at 200 World Commerce Parkway, right next to the intersection of I-95 and International Golf Parkway. And yesterday, the St. Augustine Record reported that Costco has submitted initial plans for a new 162,000-square-foot wholesale club store at 655 World Commerce Parkway, just down the street from Buc-ee’s and adjacent to I-95.
It will be the first entry into St. Johns County for both Buc-ee’s and Costco. The closest existing Buc-ee’s location is in Robertsdale, Alabama, though a Daytona Beach location is currently in development. Costco’s closest location is in Jacksonville next to the St. Johns Town Center.
Combined with the addition of a GreenWise Market-anchored shopping center at SR-16 and International Golf Parkway, the ongoing Buc-ee’s construction and the recent Costco announcement represent a revived interest in development at World Commerce Center.
Development on the center began in the late 1990s with the debut of the neighboring World Golf Village, a mixed-use development featuring the World Golf Hall of Fame, two large golf courses, an IMAX theater, a county convention center, and a major residential component. The village was expected to serve as a catalyst for the area immediately surrounding the I-95 and International Golf Parkway junction, which was dubbed World Commerce Center.
Bold plans were developed for the property, including major residential and retail components. But, while developers were able to lure Ring Power and Rulon to build new headquarters buildings at the property, and a 400-home community and 120-bed nursing home eventually materialized, much of what was once proposed for World Commerce Center did not come to fruition. This includes two separate plans for outdoor shopping malls that were sidelined following the recession of the late 2000s and never revisited. Instead, a similar development is proposed as part of the mixed-use Durbin Park development closer to the Duval-St. Johns county line.
The center also recently missed out on Ascension St. Vincent’s plans for a new St. Johns County hospital. Though originally under contract to build at World Commerce Center, the project will instead become part of The Fountains at St. Johns.
The center’s developer, Steinemann & Company, will now look to capitalize on the momentum created by these arrivals. Buc-ee’s is expected to debut in 2021, while Costco must still go through the county approval process before construction begins.