Challenger Center will ‘ignite the county’s economy for many decades to come’

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 2/24/21

OAKLEAF – Challenger Center is now open for development.

That was something echoed by many during the honorary groundbreaking ceremony held at the long-awaited Atlantis Drive off where …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Challenger Center will ‘ignite the county’s economy for many decades to come’

Posted

OAKLEAF – Challenger Center is now open for development.

That was something echoed by many during the honorary groundbreaking ceremony held at the long-awaited Atlantis Drive off where Challenger Drive intersects with Trail Ridge Road on Thursday, Feb. 18.

There were about 30 people there to celebrate the occasion, including county commissioners, former state senators and representatives, residents and Clay County business leaders. It’s just an area of undeveloped land right now but it’s expected to bring more than 700 jobs to the county.

“The County is always looking forward to economic development opportunities like this one,” Board of County Commissioners chairman Mike Cella said during the ceremony. “We’re excited to see this type of road project begin because it does signal potential job growth in this very prime location in the Oakleaf-Middleburg area right next to our brand-new First Coast Expressway.”

Cella capped off his introductory speech by explaining how 2021 will be a great year for the county. He said it’s a year of new jobs and further increases of the commercial tax base, which means the county can better serve its community. Roughly 719 jobs are expected to be added to Clay County when the 740-acre development is completed.

District 2 commissioner, Wayne Bolla, who represents the Oakleaf area, said in a couple of years, nobody would recognize where they were standing. That’s because the Challenger Center, as it’s referred to as, will be an area of commercial business development.

“We can also expect to see a return on investment,” Bolla said. “There’s $1.5 million in private capital investment in connection with the project and at least 719 full-time jobs in District 2 in the next 10 years.”

This project comes by way of more than $2 million funded back in 2018 as a result of the county’s push and partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and others, as well as then-senator Rob Bradley and then-representative Travis Cummings.

Bradley talked about how easily the project could have fallen through, but through many partnerships and leaders that continued to pursue it. It’s a day of watching the fruits of our labors and visions begin to bloom, he said.

The new Atlantis Drive will be a little over half a mile long and it will be a four-lane road divided by a raised medium. Clay County Utility Authority executive director Jeremy Johnston said the road is a win-win for all parties involved, including CCUA who helped with some of the more utility-based design aspects like stormwater and sewage.

“With the start of Atlantis Drive, Challenger Center is poised and ready for takeoff,” county manager Howard Wanamaker said. “It will ignite the county’s economy for many decades to come. This new roadway will provide access to new commercial, retail, office, light industrial and residential development with the promise of millions of investment dollars and hundreds of full-time jobs.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment