Demolition of iconic auditorium paves the way for luxury urban development

Today starts the redeveloping of The Morocco Shrine Center. The long-time iconic building is being torn down.


Action News Jax was there for the center’s demolition. The property will soon belong to a chain of retailers, restaurants and future residents.

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After this morning’s demolition, the Morocco Shrine Center will slowly turn into nothing more than a pile of rubble. Before this morning’s demolition you could have seen the Morocco Shrine Center in its entirety. It was a well-known but abandoned auditorium. It will now be torn down to make room for urban development.

Jacksonville city leaders and developers say they are making way to build an estimated $200M project, called The Village at Town Center. It all begins with today’s demolition of the Morocco Shrine Center.

“It should last about 30 to 45 days,” Jeff Klotz said.

The Village at Town Center is going to be a mixed used project that will include luxury and market rate apartments, student housing, commercial and office use, a five-story hotel, retail, restaurant and a recreational space.

Related Story: Morocco shrine center property may become retail, residential space near town center in Jacksonville

Jeff Klotz, CEO and owner of The Klotz Group of Companies, the real estate company responsible for today’s destruction and the future’s development, explained how the property will be used.

“We spent the last three years really entitling it for a mixed used sort of master plan commercial development that would include a little over a thousand residential units, a hotel or two and about 200,000 sq. ft. of commercial space,” Jeff Klotz said.

Mark Hudson, who’s been head of the Morocco Shrine Center since its opening nearly 40 years ago, had mixed emotions about the demolition.

“It’s kind of a disappointment but we know that the future has to come,” Mark Hudson said.

In his exit, Hudson and his colleagues were presented with plaques. They were built into the Shrine Centers walls during it’s construction in 1981 as part of dedication ceremonies.

Watch: Around Jax: More shopping options at Town Center, new dining at JIA

“I’m excited to see what the Klotz’s are going to do,” Hudson said.

Klotz says the design for The Village at Town Center is going to serve surrounding communities like The St. Johns Town Center and The University of North Florida. Thousands of jobs are expected to come about but it will be a while. The Village at Town Center is a seven-year project.

“This is a great property, and it will serve Jacksonville in a great way for many years,” Klotz said.

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The Morocco Shrine Center made Jacksonville it’s home back in 1985. It was often times rented out for get togethers like weddings and trade shows.

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