Rowing club shut down by city, looks to reopen in Fruit Cove

A rowing club previously banned by the City of Jacksonville on property in Mandarin is now looking to re-open over the county line.

Evans Rowing Club is eyeing 1.6 acres in Fruit Cove on Julington Creek at the corner of State Road 13 and Wentworth Ave., which would have to be rezoned.

The property currently has a house but would be rezoned for a mix of residential and commercial use to allow for a rowing center.

Evans Rowing Club said it would be St. Johns County’s only rowing center.

According to the club’s website, “Julington Creek is an ideal body of water for rowing because it is protected enough to have calm water but large enough to maneuver an eight-person rowing shell.” The website says, “The other three corners of the bridge are currently occupied by marinas, a restaurant, and an assisted living facility.”


However, some neighbors in Fruit Cove are speaking up about the proposed development.

“I support the rowing club 100%. My child used to row with Evans Rowing Club. I’m all for rowing. It’s a great sport,” Kathryn McAvoy said. “There’s a place for this. It’s not here.”

McAvoy has lived on 11 acres of land in Fruit Cove for the past nine years.

“They had a very long driveway. We’d still be backed up for 20 minutes waiting to pick up or drop off. It was a nightmare,” she said.

It’s the same reason a court order banned the club from the property on Hillwood Road and the City of Jacksonville admitted it mistakenly allowed them to use the property for rowing.

Some Fruit Cove neighbors are concerned that the same problems will occur in their neighborhood.

McAvoy said State Road 13 is already a high-crash area just after the bridge. The club would take up to 40 athletes, which McAvoy said would add to congestion in the area.

The four-lane road is split by a median, meaning drivers coming from St. Johns County would have to make a U-turn on the other side of the bridge.

Evans Rowing Club said there is a dedicated U-turn lane north of Julington Creek. The organization also pointed out that most of the property lining State Road 13 from the creek to Race Track Road is zoned commercially.

A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Several neighbors plan on showing up with a presentation against the rezoning application.

The owners of Evans Rowing Club will also make a presentation explaining their vision for the property.

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