Meet the company behind notable apartment projects in and around downtown Jacksonville

Andy Allen smiles June 14 in his office inside the historic Goodwin House in Riverside. Allen is the CEO of Corner Lot, a development company which has multiple projects in the works around the Jacksonville area.

What is the corner lot anyway?

In real estate, it’s a parcel of land located at the intersection of two streets and referred to as the most desirable piece of property.

In Jacksonville, it’s also the name of one of the largest independent, privately owned real estate development firms in North Florida, behind several apartment projects in the works near downtown as well as a number of commercial developments. 

The name Corner Lot came from what Andy Allen, the company’s CEO, knew at the very beginning of his real estate career: that corner lots were the most valuable. 

Allen’s family moved to Jacksonville in 1994, shortly after the NFL granted Jacksonville an expansion team, when the seventh grader received a Jaguars T-shirt for his last Christmas in Somerset County in New Jersey.

Moving from a school where his class size went from 40 to a few hundred had its difficult moments, Allen said, and one of those was being pushed out of basketball, a sport he’d played at his old school.

This, he said, is where a lot of luck came into play for him.

When he stopped playing basketball, he started golfing, which ultimately “made business life a lot easier” and even granted him connections that set him on the path into the real estate industry in Jacksonville.

Andre Green, the Commercial Development Manager for Corner Lot, speaks with Andy Allen on June 14 at the construction site of the Home2Suites hotel. Allen is the CEO of Corner Lot, a development company which has multiple projects in the works around the Jacksonville area.

From the golf course to the corner office

Aside from earning a scholarship to attend Jacksonville University with golf and his grades, Allen also caddied and worked at Pablo Creek Golf Club, an exclusive and prestigious course.

“Being able to caddie and walk 18 holes for four to four-and-a-half hours with these business people allowed me to look at the type of people who I was aligned with or was most alike to where I could kind of look at what sort of career path I wanted,” Allen said. “Caddying for these people not only allowed me to learn how to talk to people — because I wasn’t a country club kid — but it taught me how to talk with people who were very successful, who had money … and to listen to them talk about business and how things were going.”

Allen said he met some of his best friends, business affiliates and colleagues through golf, too.

“When I had that opportunity, it was just a great way to learn all walks of life,” he said, “and I was very happy and I started feeling a little bit more comfortable in my skin from that opportunity and gained a lot of confidence.”

It was a weird route that led Allen into real estate after earning his degree in finance, though: his mother had a mobile notary closing agency which Allen worked at occasionally to make some extra money.

“I started looking at the documents, and I’m like, ‘What is going on these things? What’s a HUD? What’s a mortgage?’” Allen said. “And I started seeing what the mortgage professionals were making on these deals and what the real estate agents are making on these deals.”

At 22 years old at the time, Allen said, those numbers seemed like they could buy a lot of beers at Bukkets and other Beaches bars.

‘How do we add value?’

“I started taking bankers and real estate agents and mortgage brokers out to golf, and I built up a book of business,” Allen said. “And that’s kind of the gist of where I got in real estate, at the closing table.”

Andy Allen smiles June 14 in his office inside the historic Goodwin House in Riverside. Allen is the CEO of Corner Lot, a development company which has multiple projects in the works around the Jacksonville area.

He called this starting “backwards” because from there he started doing mortgages, understanding titles and getting a job in real estate.

Allen’s career in real estate started around the end of 2006 when he began working for Stellar Properties, a full-service real estate brokerage company which included HOA management.

This time was a lot of learning, Allen said, but then came the 2007-08 housing market collapse, and things changed.

In 2009, he started flipping homes. 

“The term ‘flipping’ has kind of a negative connotation,” he said. “We always asked ‘How do we add value?’ as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, we’re flipping this thing.’”

By the end of the year, Corner Lot was born, the name coming from what little Allen knew in the beginning: that corner lots were the most valuable property. 

After deciding he could see through every step of the real estate process, from brokerage to general construction to property management, the company grew “very quickly for building teams for acquisitions, general construction [and] property management.”

“So we had 76 employees over the next six months,” Allen said, “and talk about learning a ton when you’re kind of thrown into the lion’s den. … But it was wonderful.”

Fast forward to 2017, and it was time to get into development. 

Visions of a vibrant downtown

Infill of housing in Jacksonville’s urban core seems to be one of the biggest focuses for Corner Lot. Notable projects that should be completed later this year or early in 2024 include Johnson Commons, a series of townhomes that will be for sale in the Historic LaVilla neighborhood downtown and the multi-family complexes Corner on Main, in Springfield; The Hendricks in San Marco; and Artea, on the Southbank.

“We’ve been able to gain a lot of momentum and trust with the public and partners and anyone that’s been involved with us to a certain degree,” Allen said. “I didn’t choose Jacksonville for Corner Lot — I feel like Jacksonville kind of chose me.”

The company has business lines in single-family, multi-family, urban, commercial and hospitality developments and historic preservation and home construction, through Breeze Homes.

“The diversity in business lines is what makes Corner Lot unique in comparison to other developers,” said Michael Ryan, director of marketing for the company. “We focus on infill in the urban areas and are also very involved in workforce housing in Duval and St. Johns [counties].”

Aside from being one of the busiest apartment developers in Jacksonville, Allen and Corner Lot have some other projects underway too.

Andre Green, the Commercial Development Manager for Corner Lot , speaks with Andy Allen on June 14 at the construction site of the Home2Suites hotel. Allen is the CEO of Corner Lot, a development company which has multiple projects in the works around the Jacksonville area.

Some other projects include the restaurant 1937 Spirits and Eatery; Home2 Suites, a new Hilton hotel coming to Riverside; and NoCo, the entertainment venue in north downtown which recently hosted the Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience and now is hosting Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Show.

“I think, hopefully, [people] look at Corner Lot as a company that’s really wanting to build the city up,” Allen said. “We obviously want to make returns for our investors, and we want to make sure that everybody that’s a part of a deal has a return because you’re not going to do everything for passion, but they also look at us as a company that is going to do some passion plays. We’re sitting here looking at the city as a macro play as opposed to just ‘what’s this one deal do?’ and its immediate surroundings. We’re looking at this from a much larger, longer perspective. I like to say that we’re macro-thinking, but we’re micro-executing.”

Allen said it’s always been important for the company to be focused on what’s next for the future of Jacksonville and to change the city landscape into a “thriving downtown.” The idea is to bring tourism and culture to the city and make it a place that is so good for raising families, their kids won’t want to leave to raise their families somewhere else either.

“If it’s good for the community, it’s good for Jacksonville,” Allen said. “Success of a company is in line with the success of a city.”

Sign up to receive the best Underground art & real estate news in your inbox everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site