The Local (formerly The Roost)

July 12, 2023


After several years of litigation, the owner and applicant of the former Deluxe Cleaners on Oak Street between Copeland and Osceola St. is ready to invest in the restoration and build-out that will convert the former dry cleaner into a restaurant. 

In Riverside, the proprietors Jack Demetree and Ted Stein describe the interior as “the downstairs of River and Post with the bar and lounge of Orsay”. They are most excited about working with the historic building and making sure its charm is felt within the experiences of those dining inside.

Zoning for The Roost – a 150 seat restaurant – was passed in 2016. However, the applicants are applying for a PUD that will replace the 2016 version with a few changes. Here is a summary of those changes from the applicant:

Photo of The Local Neptune Beach Location Photo of The Local Neptune Beach Location

“We are excited to finally bring this building back to life in Riverside. The concept has shifted and we are looking to build an elevated version of “The Local” that adapts to the neighborhood as our other two restaurants do.  The restaurant will have a historic feel like many of the beautiful restaurants found in Charleston and Savannah.

This PUD does 5 main things:

  1. Closing time Sunday-Wednesday is 11pm. Closing time Thursday-Saturday is midnight.  The only change from the original PUD is an extra hour on Thursday night.
  2. We have learned these past 8 years that we need more kitchen space to put out a high-end product, so the footprint restrictions are removed so we can put in a full gourmet kitchen.
  3. Outdoor patio closing time will be 10pm. Service only, no amplified music or TVs at any time outside.
  4. Slight change to the site plan near the dumpster and back door. Still staying within the 5′ minimum buffer from the original PUD.
  5. The ability to have TVs in the restaurant.”

The RAP Preservation & Zoning Committee is currently reviewing the revised PUD and working with neighbors, the applicant, and Councilmember Peluso on ways to ensure that any questions about the new PUD are answered – and neighborhood impacts are mitigated. 

Ted Stein has offered to meet with anyone wanting to discuss the project – you can email him. Further, Councilmember Peluso is hosting a Community Meeting to answer any community questions.

August 4, 2023

Last week Councilman Jimmy Peluso hosted a Community Meeting to discuss Oak Street and the proposed changes for Snap Fitness and the Deluxe Cleaners buildings and property. Nearly 75 residents participated in the Community Meeting. Many asked questions, several shared concerns, and others voiced support. A common thread among many of the residents was the need to address traffic and safety issues on Oak Street. High speeds and blind spots are an ongoing concern. Adding more traffic without addressing these issues is a hazard. To this point, the applicant was direct in saying they would support traffic calming measures on Oak Street in all forms. Those measures, though, are not within the scope of the PUD rezoning. Riverside Avondale Preservation Executive Director, Shannon Blankinship, shared a Streetscape enhancement rendering that would further protect the Oak Street Bike Lane by changing to a diagonal parking pattern, expand and improve public sidewalks, add more landscaped spaces and improve conditions for the tree canopy, and add more bike racks. This is seen as a benefit to the entire neighborhood in an area that has been long neglected and needs investment. The applicant stated they are willing to make these changes, among others. We are working on specific language modifications now which includes the COJ Traffic and Engineering Department and the Planning Department. Many residents wanted clarification of hours:
  • Interior
  • Sunday – Wednesday 6:30am-11pm
  • Thursday, Friday, Saturday 6:30am – Midnight
  • Outside Patio – 10:00pm everyday
  • Some asked if this would be breakfast, similar to their Miramar location? No. Not at first. It is easier to expand hours than contract.
  • The seat count? The main opposition in 2016 was the intensity of the project for the interior of a block that was primarily surrounded by residential uses. A new rule, passed July 1, 2023, allows for a minimum 120 seats in order to obtain a liquor license as a restaurant. The previous rule was 150-seats. The applicant was direct in saying that 150 seats were needed to support the cost of renovations.
  • Liquor or beer & wine only? There are opinions on both sides for this question! The applicant’s vision for an elevated dining experience includes cocktails and after dinner drinks.

Many more questions, comments, and opinions were shared at the meeting. See “Let’s talk about Oak Street” from The Resident who covered the discussion.

September 5, 2023

Over the last month we have met with the COJ Planning Department twice, the applicant and proprietor for ORD 2023-0365 on multiple occasions, have consulted with COJ Traffic & Engineering and have regularly checked in with Councilman Peluso on the many aspects of the project connected to COJ infrastructure, transportation, art, and preservation. In addition, meeting with and hearing from neighbors and residents impacted by this rezoning is our leading voice. P.R.O.U.D. Riverside is a group of nearby neighbors opposed to the 2016 zoning approval – wanting to see an “optimized” version of this property for the neighborhood. We have also been working with members of this group. 

Given that feedback, changes to the proposed project have been made that improve traffic conditions, enhance landscaping and the general streetscape appearance, provide traffic calming amenities for pedestrians and cyclists on the Oak Street bike lane, reduce offsite noise and lighting impacts to nearby neighbors, and will generally improve the project moving forward. Here is a summary of the changes: 

Mitigating impacts to neighbors via noise and lighting: a six-foot masonry wall is being build along the rear of the site which abuts property owners on Riverside Ave, the outside patio will have no amplified sound, lighting is pedestrian scale to reduce offsite impacts, all commercial and waste deliveries will be limited to 8am – 8pm, live music will end 30 minutes before close.

Historic Preservation: This 100-year-old structure, currently condemned and facing multiple code enforcement and safety issues, is at threat of demolition. The applicant seeks to retain the structure and retain its historic charm and story for decades to come. Saving this building will add character to the new dining room as well as remediate a brownfield in the center of a residential community.  A knee wall is being constructed along the front of the building blocking view of the parking lot – as per the Riverside Avondale Historic Preservation Design Guidelines. 

Improving impacts to neighbors via improvements to the public streetscape: 35 internal parking spots will be added to the existing grass lot and the parking on Oak Street will be changed to diagonal from perpendicular, further protecting the Oak St. bike lane cyclists. Diagonal parking and added landscape islands with trees will work to reduce speed on Oak Street. Both are proven traffic calming measures. In additional CM Peluso is working with COJ Traffic & Engineering on a raised crosswalk which will further reduce speed and protect pedestrians. Improvement of the sidewalks and addition of bike racks along the bike lane add safety for pedestrians and cyclists. ADA improvements to the site include 2 internal parking spots with a concrete foundation and direct connection from Oak Street to the sidewalk. 

Sustainability and Environment: Preservation, as opposed to new construction, has tremendous environmental benefits. Remediation of the property from impact of the previous historic use (kerosene based dry cleaners), pervious parking lot materials, added landscaped islands, enlarged landscaped areas, the addition of shade trees, native plants, and encouraging walking and cycling are all green benefits to the neighborhood. Further, discussions have begun on a way to incorporate public art into the space. 

While we previously, and still do, believe that the size of this restaurant is too intense for a mid-block commercial project, due to the changes made to further mitigate offsite impacts and improve the streetscape for the entire neighborhood and with these reservations, Riverside Avondale Preservation supports the current version of ORD 2023-0365. We look forward to working with the applicant moving forward as a friend and ally in preservation and supporting small businesses. 

Public Hearings for this legislation will occur:

Planning Commission

Thursday, September 7, 1:00pm

Land Use and Zoning Committee

Tuesday, September 19, 5:00pm

City Council

Tuesday, September 26, 5:00pm

September 26, 2023 @ 3pm

The final public hearing for 2023-0365 will be held on Tuesday, September 26, 2023 during the City Council hearing. The meeting was moved from 5pm to 3pm to accommodate a longer-than-average agenda including the annual budget.

The message that Riverside Avondale Preservation has sent to decisionmakers during both LUZ and City Council hearings is below:

“After much discussion with COJ Planning Staff, public community involvement, working directly with our District 7 Councilmember, and working with the applicant to find changes amenable to both the project and the neighborhood, we are in support of 2023-0365 as approved with conditions from both the COJ Planning Department and the Planning Commission.

While we believe that the scale of this development remains too intense for the heart of this residential community, the mitigating conditions the developer has incorporated into the legislation before you today is the outcome of a collaborative process that, we believe, benefits our neighborhood.

We are in support of 2023-0365 with conditions.”

Contact information for the Jacksonville City Council can be found here as well as the agenda for the hearing.

To read Ordinance 2023-0365 and see the public hearing schedule use the COJ Legislative Bill Search feature.  Here is the link.