New residential tower on Southbank one step closer to development

New residential tower on Southbank one step closer to development
This two-year-old rendering depicts a 10-story apartment tower on top of a four-story garage. With the total number of units dropping from 300 to 185, the new renderings may look vastly different.

It was two years ago this month the City of Jacksonville’s Downtown Development Review Board first reviewed conceptual plans for a 250-unit apartment tower to be developed on the Southbank by Ventures Development Group.

The plans, however, did not sit well with adjacent property owners Baptist Health and GV-IP Jacksonville Owner LLC, which owns the former Aetna Building property, renamed Eight Forty One, on Prudential Drive.

The adjacent property owners primarily objected to the anticipated increase in traffic in what is already a high-traffic area near the Baptist Health complex. The emergency rooms for Baptist Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital are just 25 feet from Ventures’ proposed driveway onto Prudential Drive.

Following a recent settlement to an appeal filed by the opposing property owners, the Downtown Investment Authority’s board considered a resolution to grant the developer a tax rebate of up to $7.88 million over 20 years based on their investment of $44.8 million in the 2.89-acre property.

Under the terms of the settlement, the developer has modified the proposal to consist of 185 apartments, according to the DIA resolution for the tax rebate in the form of a Recapture Enhanced Value (REV) grant.

During 2017, the plans grew to include 300 apartments, a parking garage with 323 parking spots and a 70-space surface lot around the tower. The proposed plans required five administrative deviations, which included a 200 percent increase in height above the 60-foot limit, a 40 percent reduction in required parking, a reduction in the 50-foot setbacks, as well as alteration of landscape and waterfront design requirements.

Although the plans were challenged by GV-IP Jacksonville, the DDRB approved the project in June and the Downtown Investment Authority approved it in September 2017. When GV-IP appealed to the Jacksonville City Council it sent the matter back to the DDRB, which again approved the project 5-2 in December.

GV-IP Jacksonville filed a request Jan. 16, 2018 with the 4th Judicial Circuit to issue a writ of certiorari, claiming the DDRB failed to provide procedural due process during the changes to the plans and did not give GV-IP a reasonable opportunity to respond. A writ of certiorari orders a lower court to deliver its record in a case so that the higher court may review it.

On Feb. 20, 2018, Judge Waddell Wallace asked the City to show cause why GV-IP Jacksonville’s petition for certiorari should not be granted and why the DDRB’s final decision in favor of the residential tower should not be reversed.

Now that the interested parties have reached an agreement, plans will be resubmitted to the DDRB in anticipation of an October meeting, according to Guy Parola, DIA operations manager. There were no new renderings available at press time.

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