Major hurdle cleared, The District moves forward with development

Major hurdle cleared, The District moves forward with development
Bird’s eye-view rendering of what’s in store for The District—Life Well Lived on the Southbank.

Construction on The District – A Life Well Lived is expected to begin after the first of the year and by then some of the brands planned for the long-awaited 30-acre development on San Marco’s riverfront might be known.

The District cleared a major hurdle in June when state regulators issued an environmental “clean bill of health” for the Jacksonville Energy Authority site. That was a two-year, $2-million process. “It was a critical step. You can’t develop the site without it,” said Michael Munz, a partner in the project with former Disney executive Peter Rummell.

One final piece of city legislation – a redevelopment agreement – is needed and Munz expects that to go smoothly.

Once that’s in place, Munz said they can close the $17 million property sale with JEA, which is expected to happen by the end of the year and construction can begin.

The initial construction by The Haskell Company involves “the horizontals” – the roads, sewers, sidewalks and riverwalk, Munz said. That is expected to take 12 to 14 months and will begin on the western end of the property.

Impact Properties has signed an agreement to put a hotel on the northwest portion of The District – A Life Well Lived’s Southbank property (rendering for visual purposes only).

Impact Properties has signed an agreement to put a hotel on the northwest portion of The District – A Life Well Lived’s Southbank property (rendering for visual purposes only).

As that work is completed, simultaneous construction might begin on “the verticals” of Phase 1: a hotel, offices, a grocery, cinema, apartments, restaurants, riverfront park and riverwalk extension.

Simultaneous construction would require orchestration, Munz said. “But Haskell understands how to do complicated urban development.”

Munz also said he thinks San Marco residents will experience only minor disruptions during the construction phase be-
cause
it will not occur in major traffic areas.

Another major piece also fell into place with a purchase and sales agreement with hotel developer Impact Properties to develop and operate a 200-room hotel on the western end of the property.

Munz would not identify the hotel brand, stating only that it would be a new brand in Jacksonville and would align with the multigenerational and health and wellness themes of The District. “It will have a cool, hip urban downtown vibe that works well by being connected to the riverfront,” Munz said.

Impact Properties currently owns three Jacksonville hotels: Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton at 13950 Village Lake Circle, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites at 4675 Salisbury Road South, and the Residence Inn by Marriott at 13942 Village Lake Circle.

The Tampa-based company works with Marriott and Starwood hotels. The two companies, which are in the process of merging, have about 30 brands between them, including well-known names: Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Courtyard and Fairfield Inn. But none of them could be described as cool, hip and urban.

But there are intriguing possibilities. Marriott has three new brands – Moxy, AC and Aloft – that might fit the bill:

Moxy Hotels is described as a boutique hotel targeted at millennials with tech-enabled rooms, “thoughtful, spirited and fun guest experiences” for an affordable price.

AC Hotels, named for Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan, is designed for the “new kind of traveler – a creative, entrepreneurial and modern global traveler.” The European-modern space offers curated abstract art, fresh-baked goods and cocktails made at table.

Aloft Hotels offers a “tech-forward vibrant experience” for the next generation of traveler who is “always on.”

“Detailed conversations” are underway for a 10-12 screen cinema. “It’s a ‘fork-and-screen’ concept with nice food, drinks and big leather chairs,” Munz said.

Serious negotiations also are underway with a grocer, which Munz described as a full-
service grocery with a “green grocer” design.

Other verticals include an office tower, apartments, townhomes and retail. The development will be designed to inspire healthy, environmentally-friendly living with trails, a four-acre riverfront park, Riverwalk extension and 125-slip marina.


By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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