Settlement reached on riverfront development

Settlement reached on riverfront development
View of TriBridge Residential development from St. Johns River

Three weeks after nearly 60 residents of Park Plaza and members of the Garden Club of Jacksonville met with a representative of TriBridge Residential to voice concerns about the proposed apartment complex between Lomax Street and Bishopgate Lane, the parties’ attorneys pulled together an eleventh-hour compromise to prevent yet another two-week deferral on the Land Use and Zoning Committee’s (LUZ) agenda.

At a Jan. 31 meeting held at Park Plaza, Katherine Mosley, TriBridge vice president of development, shared site elevations and attempted to answer questions concerning density, noise and traffic, highest among a list of issues put forth by the Plaza’s residents.

The Planned Unit Development (PUD), as revised Nov. 29, 2016, sought a rezoning of the 1.66-acre property from PUD and CRO (Commercial/Residential/Office) to PUD only.

During the late January meeting, Attorney Paul Harden, who was hired to represent Park Plaza, questioned the PUD’s intent. “It’s not just a re-zoning, it’s an amendment to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan,” he said.

“What you have is not just a zoning application, it’s an application to amend the Future Land Use designation for the piece across Bishopgate Lane from RPI [residential/professional/institutional] which allows 40 units per acre to HDR [high density residential] to go to 60 units per acre, and then on top of that, to use this suggestion that there is going to be multi-use [applications], to go to 84 units per acre,” said Harden. “The multi-use feature, as per the Comp Plan, is required to be on the first floor. And theirs is not going to be on the first floor, it’s going to be on the top floor. Respectfully, I don’t think renting out the clubhouse of the facility is a multi-use.”

The application was originally scheduled to be heard on Feb. 7 by LUZ, but was deferred two weeks at the request of District 14 Councilman Jim Love as a result of the objections brought up during the Jan. 31 meeting. The deferral would allow Harden and Wyman Duggan, a Rogers Towers attorney representing TriBridge, to meet with Love and Park Plaza residents Dan Edelman and Tim Burleigh to find compromise on a list of 25 issues.

“Dan negotiated directly with the developer’s representative and, far more than that, came up with a winning strategy for us,” said Burleigh.

As the Feb. 22 LUZ meeting approached, the two sides had settled on most of the issues, but the number of units was still a sticking point. Love requested another two-week deferral, which was noted on the LUZ agenda the morning of Feb. 22.

Much to the surprise of the Park Plaza team, just a few hours prior to the LUZ meeting they were notified the developer was willing to concede the last of the major points in order to avoid the two-week deferral.

Regarding density, the number of units was reduced from 140 to 125, bringing the density down to 75 units per acre. 

Regarding the mixed-used aspect of the plan, special events for non-residents and the sale of alcohol are expressly prohibited. A “finished” riverwalk was eliminated unless the City gives the developer a substantial REV (Residential Recapture Enhanced Value) grant, but at the City’s request there will be a floating water-taxi dock on the property.

Regarding noise, pool deck hours will be limited, with closing hours of 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and holidays. Outside amplified live music and the playing of music by a DJ are prohibited. 

The setback of the southeast corner of the building was increased from 35 feet to 50 feet. Park Plaza residents will have an opportunity to review the lighting, landscaping, and sound abatement plans for comment only during the design phase.

The nine protections covering Park Plaza in the existing 2006 PUD were restored to the new PUD. One of those protections includes a pre-construction inspection of Park Plaza Condominium to provide a baseline against any future damage caused by the development of the new property. 

The final agreement led to the approval of the legislation by LUZ without opposition from Park Plaza, who would not oppose it at the Feb. 28 City Council meeting.

“One of our best decisions was to hire Paul Harden as our lawyer,” said Burleigh.
“He did a superb job. Without him, we could not have obtained nearly as much as we did from the developer.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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