City Council approves REV grant for Bishopgate riverwalk

When TriBridge Residential of Atlanta received Jacksonville City Council approval Feb. 28 to rezone two parcels on Bishopgate Lane for the purposes of building a new 125-unit apartment complex in Riverside, the bill for the planned unit development was passed with a contingency for an improved riverwalk behind the building, a neighborhood amenity sought by Riverside Avondale Preservation.

Provisions for paving, hardscaping, landscaping, lighting and street furniture for the 15-foot-wide easement were contingent upon TriBridge Residential obtaining a “substantial” Residential Recapture Enhanced Value (REV) grant. On April 11, Council President Lori Boyer introduced a new bill, 2017-0284, to authorize a property tax rebate in the form of the grant.

City Council approved the REV grant of $810,610 on May 9. The bill also waives provisions of the Procurement Code in order to allow the developer – rather than bid the project –  to construct the entirety of the 350-foot-long riverwalk, which will include amenities as approved by the City. The project will be overseen by the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

The Bishopgate Riverwalk will be accessible to the public. The planned unit development indicated at least five parking spaces in the development’s parking garage would be allocated for public use in connection with the riverwalk.

The approval of the REV grant for the construction of the riverwalk behind the proposed apartment complex marks another step toward Boyer’s desire to see river access expanded on both banks of the St. Johns River.

At a public meeting at City Hall May 8, Boyer gave an update on plans to make the St. Johns River more approachable. During her term as Council president, Boyer brought together a variety of committees and city and state departments to study the issue of the “stagnant” river lifestyle in Jacksonville and to change it.

Thanks to Boyer’s tenacity, the Parks and Recreation Department is exploring installation of up to 10 interactive kiosks along the river, providing information about the adjacent neighborhood; three Council subcommittees are studying new opportunities for activities on or near the river; the Florida Department of Transportation is coordinating with the City and bicycle/pedestrian advocacy groups to add new walking and biking paths.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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