Developer announced, incentives package proposed to repurpose Berkman Plaza II condominium

Developer announced, incentives package proposed to repurpose Berkman Plaza II condominium
The unfinished Berkman Plaza II condominium will be repurposed as a hotel, developed by a Mississippi company.

When asked why a Ridgeland, Mississippi company would be interested in development in Jacksonville, Cono Caranna, Barrington Development vice president, said, “Jacksonville is perfect from a developer’s perspective…population, geography and infrastructure.”

The relatively new company, established in 2012, couldn’t have chosen a more challenging property when it took on development of the Berkman Plaza II condominium property, but that’s not how Caranna views it.

“This particular property’s location is also perfect; next to the river, stadium, arena and downtown,” said Caranna, whose company renovated a distressed property, White House Biloxi, to great success.

“It was actually way worse off than Berkman, being closed for almost 30 years,” said Caranna about the historical beach hotel which dates to the 1890s. Caranna’s company spent $7 million to restore – over a 16-month period – the severely dilapidated property to its former glory, using as much of the salvaged material as possible.   

He has similar plans for Berkman II, stating they will use the existing structure as is for a hotel, while adding new buildings for a family entertainment center and parking garage.

Rendering for the proposed hotel and family entertainment complex on the Northbank.

 

For nearly 12 years Berkman II has languished in a semi-constructed state following a December 2007 collapse of a five-story concrete parking garage at 500 East Bay St. One construction employee was killed and 21 were injured in the collapse. In 2014 Choate Construction obtained the property through a foreclosure settlement.

Earlier this year, under pressure from the Mayor’s Office to close a deal with a developer, Choate Construction sold the property to a Wisconsin-based company, Ohde Construction, for $4.75 million.

The architect for the new development, which will include a 340-room hotel, is Adache Group Architects. Hotel amenities may include a lazy river, a swim-up bar, a fitness and spa room, restaurant and meeting space, a ballroom and retail space.

While declining to name the brand which under which the family-friendly resort will be built, Caranna did share some details about the property. “There will be restaurants, resort pool water playground (not open to public, hotel guests only), family entertainment center with 200 arcade games, indoor attractions such as ropes courses and/or rock wall, outdoor amusement rides such as a Ferris wheel and other thrill rides,” he said.

Additionally, he confirmed the USS Charles Adams will be docked at the new resort as an interactive museum. The location for former guided missile destroyer has floated around downtown since 2013, when City Council approved a modification to a 2010 ordinance to move the proposed berth from the Southbank to a location on the Northbank across from the Maxwell House Coffee plant. Most recently the ship was part of Shad Khan’s proposal for redevelopment of The Shipyards.

The Downtown Investment Authority approved $36.6 million in incentives last month for the $150 million project, of which Barrington will spend at least $122 million. The incentives include a 75 percent tax rebate over 20 years not to exceed $20 million, an $8.25 million performance-based incentive, a $3.25 million grant to complete the redevelopment, $1.6 million worth of three acres of city-owned property for a garage, and a $3.5 million grant for the developer to reserve 200 spaces in the garage for public use. The Jacksonville City Council has yet to approve the incentive package.

Rendering for the proposed hotel and family entertainment complex on the Northbank include a berth for the USS Charles Adams.

 


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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