Urban core buzzing with development

Urban core buzzing  with development
Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center under construction in San Marco

It might look as if nothing is going on at The District, but looks can be deceiving.

The legal infrastructure is being laid for the 30-acre riverfront development on the Southbank, according to Michael Munz, who is a partner in the project with developer Peter Rummell, managing partner of Elements Development of Jacksonville LLC.

If all goes as planned, construction on the physical infrastructure — water, sewer, roads — will be under way by summer, Munz said.

It is just one of several projects underway in San Marco and the Southbank.

The District

Rummell and Munz have been working for three years to buy the site of the former Southside generating station from JEA for $18.5 million.

“It has taken much more time than anyone expected,” Munz said. The JEA board has granted Elements three extensions. The company is in negotiations with the City of Jacksonville and JEA for the City to take over the contract. The pro-
posal is scheduled to be on the Downtown Investment Authority’s Jan. 4 agenda.

The company has until March 30 to tie up all the loose ends and proceed with the sale. The deadline for closing on the sale is July 16.

“There will be a groundbreaking,” Munz said. “We’re not quite sure when but by the end of the year it will be a large construction site.”

AC Marriott has agreed to develop a 200-room hotel on the site and negotiations are under way with developers for an apartment complex and retail.

Construction on the infrastructure, expected to take 18-24 months, will begin on the western end of the site and move east, allowing work on vertical structures to be phased in.

“I know it might not look like anything is happening but you don’t see us when we are in five-hour meetings with lawyers and conference calls with the city,” Munz said. “The behind-the-scenes work is not very sexy. We have put an intense amount of time into it. When you see dirt turning and workers on the site, there will be a different perception.”


Also on the Southbank, a 300-unit luxury apartment complex is under construction for the former Crawdaddy’s Restaurant site between the Lexington Hotel and the Duval County School Board building. Broadstone River House, being built by Phoenix-based Alliance Residential Co. on the three-acre site, is expected to be completed this year.

But at the other end of the Southbank, a proposed 13-story apartment project by Ventures Development Group on a 2.9-acre property between Baptist/Aetna and the Acosta Bridge is still in flux.

The project is being challenged by GV-IP Jacksonville Owner LLC, which owns the Aetna building next door, and by Baptist Medical Center over a variety of issues, including parking, traffic flow and the overall size of the development.

Last summer, the project got the go-ahead from the Downtown Development Review Board and the Downtown Investment Authority. But GV-IP appealed those decisions to City Council, which sent the matter back to the DDRB, which again approved the project 5-2 in December. GV-IP indicates it will take the matter to court.

San Marco Apartments

Catalyst Development Partners of Atlanta is seeking permits from the City and the St. Johns Water Management District for 147 apartments and a three-story, 221-space parking garage on 1.9 acres between Louisa Street and Home Street near Interstate 95. The San Marco Apartments at 1444 Home St. also would have a pool with summer kitchen and firepit, clubhouse and fitness center. San Marco resident Doug Skiles, of EnVision Design + Engineering, is the registered agent and civil engineer for the project.

Baptist MD Anderson

The new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center is on track to be finished by August, according to spokesperson Cindy Hamilton. The $150 million, nine-story building is across San Marco Boulevard from the existing cancer center that opened in 2015.

Jackson Square

Chance Partners, which plans to redevelop the site of the failed Jackson Square project are apparently in talks with the neighboring church, Southside Assembly of God, to purchase the property. The church would not comment, but District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer said rezoning is being sought for the property on Kings Street.

Judd Bobilin of Orlando and Jeff Rosen of San Jose, principals of Chance Partners, want to build an apartment community on the 17-3-acre property at 2600 Philips Highway, just south of Interstate 95. The property is zoned for a planned unit development and Bobilin has said they plan to build 900 multi-family rental units and 350,000 square feet of commercial space, with construction to begin in early 2018 and be completed in 2019.

But the addition of the church property could mean Chance Partners has bigger plans for that area.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, the company is also in the middle of a $40 million development project at the former Commander Apartments and St. Johns Village property on Fishweir Creek. RiverVue will have 228 apartments at St. Johns and Herschel Street in Avondale, when it opens this summer.


Expect lots of movement on the develop-
ment scene on the Northbank, starting with the demolition of the old court house and city hall buildings. The city is seeking bids to clear the riverfront site on East Bay Street. The job, expected to cost $8 million, would make the land ready for development.

It is all part of Mayor Lenny Curry’s plan to redevelop the Northbank, anchored by Shad Khan’s $500 million plan for the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park that could include condominiums and apartments, office space, hotel, restaurants, retail and a marina.

Or, it could be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters. Jacksonville is one of 238 cities bidding for the business and is offering 200 acres downtown on the river. Khan has dibs on 70 acres from the Shipyards to Metropolitan Park. The city has declined to explain how the property would be divvied up if Jacksonville wins the bid.

Also planned for the riverfront is the USS Charles Adams, a floating naval warship museum. A capital campaign is under way. The frigate is awaiting refurbishment in a Philadelphia dry dock, which will take four weeks. Daniel Bean, president of the nonprofit board, said the arrival date for the Adams is uncertain but it could be in late spring.

But the Northbank has some issues to deal with, including the half-finished Berkman Plaza II and the down-at-the-
heels Jacksonville Landing. District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer said the city is in talks with a developer who wants to turn Berkman into a hotel/residential property.

The future of The Landing is mired in a legal fight between the owner, Toney Sleiman, and the city, which accuses Sleiman of violating the lease.

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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