More development in store for Southbank

More development in store for Southbank
Rendering of proposed “Healthy Town” development (provided by Ervin, Lovett & Miller)

Local team wins initial bid for JEA property

If zoning and other allowances from the City of Jacksonville line up favorably, the property could become the home of a mixed-use development constructed by local developers Peter Rummell and Mike Balanky.

They teamed up as Elements Development of Jacksonville LLC to submit a proposal, which was awarded the bid last month by the JEA.

A JEA committee used a 500-point scorecard to determine whether the local team would trump Atlanta-based RocaPoint Partners. The offering price constituted 40 percent of the score, with 60 percent of the criteria including schedule, experience, local presence, job creation, capital investment and plans for access, stormwater, bulkhead, environment and Riverwalk extensions, among several others.

Elements Development’s points totaled 463 versus 385 for RocaPoint, whose bid price was $12 million.

Rummell envisions a sort of “Healthy Town” for the property, with a subtle, but noticeable, atmosphere of well-being and community for individuals and families of all ages.

Rummell has been involved in creating many successful residential and mixed-use developments throughout his career, including the completion of more than 20,000 hotel rooms during his stint with Disney Imagineering.

“He’s one of those guys that just get it,” Balanky said. “He is a visionary, but he is also very practical.”

Balanky has strong ties to Jacksonville, and specifically the Southbank area, after developing several successful properties, including San Marco Place. His office is located only a few hundred yards from JEA’s Southbank property.

“It needs to be developed,” Balanky said. “The big picture for Jacksonville is that this project, no matter who gets it, can be a huge catalyst to Downtown advancement.”

Balanky suggests that health will be the amenity platform for successful urban developments in the future. For the Southbank property, which was designated as a brownfield in 2001, a focus on health couldn’t hurt.

JEA’s Southside Generation site operated at the location from 1947 until 2001. Many years of soil pollution required remediation, costing JEA more than $28 million.

“What’s really cool is that we could take a brownfield site and turn it into a very green and healthy place to live,” Balanky said.

JEA is only selling 28.6 acres of the property and the proceeds will help offset the costs spent on demolition and site remediation. Balanky has been eyeing the plot for more than three years to determine what steps will be necessary to finish out the remediation.

“JEA had a responsibility to remediate the environmental problems that were there,” Balanky said. “They’ve been very responsible about it.”

Continuing the remediation of the property is one requirement, among other considerations, for the winning bidder.

“We feel like we have a good handle on the brownfield aspect,” Balanky said.

Rummell believes that finishing out the remediation can only perpetuate his idea of a healthy town.

Elements of Jacksonville offered JEA just under $18.6 million for the property in question. Their $400 million project could create 2,500 jobs in residential, retail and restaurant services and about $8 million in property taxes paid to the City each year.

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