Ventures Development approvals appealed by adjacent property owner

The proposed 13-story apartment project by Ventures Development Group has hit a bump in the road in its plan to develop a riverfront parcel on Prudential Drive.

GV-IP Jacksonville Owner LLC, which owns the Aetna building, is appealing zoning deviations granted in August by the Downtown Investment Authority and in July by the Downtown Development Review Board that would allow Ventures to more than double the size of the residential complex and reduce the amount of parking.

With the deviations, Ventures can reduce parking spaces from 559 to 337; change the landscaping along the railroad tracks; increase the building height from 60 feet to 190 feet; and reduce setbacks along the property line and along the bulkheads.

DIA approved the final design for the 2.9-acre project over the objections of GV-IP and Baptist Health that a 300-unit building would produce too much traffic for the small area that already has safety issues.

It already is a high-traffic area with the Baptist Health complex, which includes the emergency room, and the 20-story Aetna building. Traffic comes from two directions: from the Fuller Warren Bridge via Palm Avenue and from San Marco Boulevard and the Acosta Bridge via Prudential Drive, crossing the FEC railroad track.

“The main objections of GV-IP Jacksonville are that the development is going to exacerbate safety in the area,” said attorney Daniel Bean, who represents GV-IP. “The height has increased over 200 percent from 60 feet to 190 feet and the parking has been reduced by 40 percent. And there are frontage issues, too. There should be a 50-foot setback. The building is too close to the river.

“It is an odd-shaped little crevice of land,” Bean said. “We understand the need for development but this isn’t proper. They shouldn’t have been given the deviations.”

The City Council’s Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) Committee is scheduled to hear the appeal on Tuesday, Nov. 21. LUZ meetings take place at City Hall, beginning at 5 p.m.

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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