Thousands offer ideas for World Golf Village – Jacksonville Today

Thousands offer ideas for World Golf Village – Jacksonville Today

With changes coming to World Golf Village in St. Johns County, a survey sheds some light on what nearly 5,000 people want from the property.

Work is underway to finalize St. Johns County’s $5.5 million purchase of property at the World Golf Village, and the county is preparing to discuss its future Tuesday.

One factor will be public input. When the World Golf Foundation informed St. Johns County last year of its plans to leave the property, the county, with help from consulting firm TPMA, began to solicit public opinion through an online survey.

From July to September, the survey received 4,900 responses, most from people with skin in the game: 78% of respondents reported living within 10 miles of the property. 

Here are some of the highlights from the survey:

IMAX is a favorite

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they visited World Golf Village between one and 10 times in the last year. Fourteen percent said they visited the area more than 50 times. But of everyone who took the survey, more than half said the main reason they came was the IMAX Theater. 

Asked specifically about the movie theater, 63% said they don’t want the theater to be replaced with something else.

A place for dinner and a show?

It’s not just movies on the big screen that attracts people to World Golf Village, but dining too. While 52% of respondents said the IMAX was their main reason for visiting World Golf Village, 50% put dining at the top of their list. 

Restaurants include The Legends Grille, The Villagio Grille in the Renaissance Hotel and the Murray Bros. Caddyshack golf-themed eatery. 

Now that the museum is empty, the county is on the hunt for new ways to use the roughly more-than-60,000-square-foot building at 1 World Golf Place. Some survey respondents suggest food or entertainment uses.

Asked what they’d like to see happen with the space, 65% said they’d like to see it converted into a concert venue, while 52% said they’d like to see it turned into a food court or large restaurant. 

Members of the County Commission have mentioned the possibility of using the space for entertainment, but some have also expressed misgivings about getting into the entertainment business at World Golf Village. 

The least popular suggestions for the Hall of Fame building included warehouses, a car dealership and luxury apartments.

Lots of green to work with

In addition to the buildings, World Golf Village hosts the 36-acre South Legacy Trail. The area includes parking lots, walkways and the lake at the center of the property. A county report about potential uses for parts of the village said it would be financially feasible to keep this area as greenspace. 

Based on the survey results, that would be welcome news. Asked what they liked about their visit to World Golf Village, 71% of respondents said their favorite part was the scenery. 

Seventy-one percent of respondents — perhaps the same 71% — said they’d like the trail property to remain under county stewardship instead of selling it off to a private owner

Looking to the future

Comparing World Golf Village to other communities around the country, TPMA offered some thoughts about how the county could use the property as a place for people to spend time and money.

“Given the location of the WGV and distance from International Golf Parkway, the redevelopment of 1 World Golf Place and 21 World Golf Place should focus on creating a destination attraction, which would include a combination of businesses, all aimed at serving a high-end clientele,” the report says. “The intention is to create a critical mass of entertainment, retail and restaurant venues sufficient to draw visitors into the WGV and provide an enticing mix of activities for residents.”

The report also points out that the commercial space the PGA Tour will soon vacate at 21 World Golf Place would make for a good corporate headquarters for a company looking to get a foothold in the area.

And, of course, the agency said the county should make it a priority to ensure that the IMAX Theater remains in operation.

The St. Johns County Commission will discuss the report and next steps at a County Commission meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. All meetings are open to the public and streamed live on the county’s website.

Other items on the agenda include a presentation from the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee about how the county can boost the number of homes that fall between single-family homes and large apartment complexes.

To see the full TPMA report, visit the St. Johns County website

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