JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville landmark for 37 years, the Morocco Shrine Center on the city’s Southside is coming down to make way for a new, $200 million redevelopment project, bringing more residences and restaurant and retail options to the greater Town Center area.
Built in 1985, the 63,000-square-foot, single-story building has served as a meeting hall and event space, hosting events as varied as boxing matches, costume balls, political rallies, beer and food festivals, cat shows, dance contests, seashell shows and more.
In a matter of days, though, the building will be erased from the city’s landscape, after the wrecking ball begins its work this week.
Here’s a look at what we know about the demolition of the building and the mixed-use project that will replace it.
When will the Morocco Shrine Center be demolished?
Demolition is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1. The City of Jacksonville issued a permit for the demolition of the building and its foundation on Jan. 27 to Elev8 Demolition at a projected cost of $471,000.
Six months ago, the company demolished another Jacksonville landmark: River City Brewing Co. on the city’s Southbank.
What’s replacing the Morocco Shrine Center?
Developers The Klotz Group of Companies and the KABR Group plan to redevelop the 37-acre property into the Village at Town center, featuring 1,025 residential units that include high-end luxury homes as well as student housing, and 115,00 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space.
When will the Village at Town Center be completed?
Set to be built in phases, the construction timeline of the mixed-use development is estimated at 5 to 7 years, Klotz said in January 2022. This week’s demolition of the Morocco Shrine Center is the first major step to meeting that goal.
Estimated at 5 to 7 years, Klotz said in January 2022. This week’s demolition of the Morocco Shrine Center is the first major step to meeting that goal.
Why did the Shriners sell the building?
The 134-year-old organization once counted 10,000 members, but as of 2020, the ranks had fallen to about 1,600. With fewer members, keeping the building in good condition became harder. That included upkeep of the roof and air conditioning system of the large building.
“That building is really too much … to maintain,” Bruce Ford, potentate for the Morocco Shriners, told the Times-Union in 2020.
Who bought the Morocco Shrine Center?
Town Center East Acquisitions LLC bought the property for $16.4 million from the Morocco Temple Association Inc., according to a deed recorded on Nov. 30, 2021, in Duval County court.
Where did the Morocco Shriners move to?
The Shriners’ new headquarters are at 506 Wells Road in Orange Park. The building, part of a typical suburban office park, is much smaller and nondescript compared to its previous iconic headquarters buildings in Jacksonville’s downtown and Southside.