Neighbors cluck over possible Oceanway Chick-fil-A, again

Published on January 11, 2024 at 10:47 pm

Neighbors near First Coast High School have big concerns that a Chick-fil-A proposed for Duval Station Road would inundate the area with traffic. More than 150 Oceanway residents came out to a community meeting with the land owner, the developer, a city traffic engineer and a Chick-fil-A representative Thursday night.

The popular fast food chain is seeking a rezoning for a 1.39-acre site between Duval Station and Lady Lake roads near the Publix-anchored Duval Station Centre.

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District 8 council member Reggie Gaffney Jr. says he may defer the rezoning legislation over residents’ concerns. | Casmira Harrison, Jacksonville Today

The conversation went about as well as one might expect between a group of residents opposed to a development and those who wish to build one. At one point, when attorney for the developer Tom Ingram said the latest plan increases parking spaces from 35 to 64, there were audible groans from the audience.

Jacksonville Councilman Reggie Gaffney Jr., who hosted the meeting, said the community got to speak their piece, which was the ultimate goal.

“The key takeaway from tonight is just hearing the community concerns — how they feel, their perspectives, their thoughts,” Gaffney said. “This is their livelihood. You know, this will affect their quality (of life) and their well-being.”

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Locals had thought plans for a Chick-fil-A across from First Coast High had petered out last February, when the city’s Planning Commission denied property owner Ramzy Bakkar’s earlier iteration. But in December, Bakkar, doing business as RBSSSS LLC, applied for the rezoning. Bakkar wants to adjust his original Planned Unit Development proposal to allow for a restaurant with two drive-throughs on the vacant site.

“I invested in this property to develop it,” Bakkar told the attendees. 

“I purchased the property years ago for a fast food restaurant, and the City Council has already approved a (plan) called a PUD.”

Bakkar said the original plan is “no longer the best plan for today’s fast food customers.” The new version nearly doubles the amount of parking spaces, for one thing.

The legislation on the rezoning, Ordinance 2023-0856, is set for a development staff review Friday, according to Gaffney, and if they push the proposal forward, its next stop is a return to the Planning Commission. 

Jennifer Santelli, principal development lead for Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, responds to pushback from residents near First Coast High School on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. | Casmira Harrison, Jacksonville Today

Meanwhile, Gaffney says the residents are asking him to defer the proposal, delaying its advance through the council, and he expects to have an idea of whether he will do so by Monday. 

He said the residents, after hearing about the rebirth of the project, reached out to him “in every way possible.”

“I have heard you guys loud and clear,” he said.

The current plan, as presented to meeting attendees Thursday night | Casmira Harrison, Jacksonville Today

One resident said she doesn’t “mind something being there,” just not a restaurant.

Another resident, Tracy Terri, said she would live so close to the site she could “lean out her window and take an order.”

“That’s how close my house is – the closest house of all the houses in our neighborhood,” Terri said.

So what does success look like to Terri?

For the landowner to hopefully decide to put in something “smaller.”

“Maybe a nail shop,” Terri said. 

author image Reporter

Casmira Harrison is a Jacksonville Today reporter focusing on local government in Duval County.

Harrison can be reached at

author image Reporter

Casmira Harrison is a Jacksonville Today reporter focusing on local government in Duval County.

Harrison can be reached at

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