City Council to consider District financial deal

The redevelopment plan for The District — A Life Well Lived goes to the City Council May 2. It’s the final hurdle for the long-awaited mixed-use development on the Southbank.

The Council will consider the financing deal for the redevelopment of 30 acres on the Southbank proposed by Peter Rummell and Michael Munz. The property, owned by the Jacksonville Energy Authority (JEA), is the former site of the Southside Generating Station.

By 2020, The District would have 950 residences, a 200-room Marriott, 285,000 to 134,600 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space and a 125-slip marina.

The project was first proposed in 2015 and has encountered many delays and obstacles, including redevelopment rights and environmental issues. An unconventional financing scheme that generated controversy was withdrawn and a more conventional one proposed.

Under the financing proposal, already approved by the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), the City would provide $56 million in property tax rebates over 22 years to the developers’ company, the Elements of Development Jacksonville LLC. The rebates, called Recaptured Enhanced Value or REV grants, are 75 percent of the property taxes and are dependent on how much of The District is built and added to the tax rolls.

As part of the deal, the city would create a community development district that would enable Elements to issue bonds to raise $30 million for streets and utilities in the development. Community development districts are commonly used in suburban projects, but this would be the first time one has been used downtown.

In addition, Elements would give the city four acres of riverfront property where the DIA would spend $26.4 million for public amenities including 3.5 acres of park space, a 1,900-foot Riverwalk extension with bulkhead, a boardwalk trail, 100 parking spaces and three road extensions.

DIA CEO Aundra Wallace said the DIA has $5 million for the project and expects $4 million to come in the next two years. The remainder of the money would be borrowed from the city at 2.66 percent over 20 years, pending council approval. The loan would be repaid using tax revenue from the Southside Tax Increment Financing District, which encompasses part of the Southbank. 

Rummell and Munz have yet to buy the property from JEA for $18.5 million. They have until July 18 to close the deal. And they are expected to encounter resistance from District 6 Councilman Matt Schellenberg, who calls the financing plan “a giveaway” by the city and wants the incentives withdrawn. He said if Rummell and Munz are unable to proceed with the project, JEA should rebid it.

Munz said he is confident the project will proceed. Once the Council signs off on it, construction could begin by the end of summer, he said.

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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