Ventures apartment building close to construction

Ventures apartment building close to construction
This site plan was approved in 2018 but was later slightly modified to reflect a small revision to the building placement, a City spokesman said.

Developers of a new apartment building on the Southbank are much closer to breaking ground on a project that was once controversial but now has the go-ahead from the City.

 Ventures Development Group had originally proposed constructing an apartment tower of up to 300 units on nearly three acres, near Baptist Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital, the Resident reported back in 2018.That brought concerns about increased traffic flow in an already-busy area from neighbors GV-IP Jacksonville Owner LLC, which owns the former Aetna Building property, renamed Eight Forty One, on Prudential Drive. 

There was a lawsuit, now settled, and the project has been scaled back to 185 units and is within a couple of steps to construction. While occupation of the building will doubtless increase traffic flow, it will also attract more residents downtown, which has been a focal point for the city’s Downtown Investment Authority (DIA).

When Guy Parola, DIA’s Operations Manager, was asked what the project would add downtown, he said “More residents moving us closer to the 10,000 mark, as well as increased accessibility for the general public to our Riverwalk.”

Calls for comment to the developer were not returned, but Parola confirmed in October that the project is very close to the permitting phase preceding construction commencement.

“Their next step is to submit revised engineering plans, which when approved, gets them to permitting,” Parola said. “They are responsible for the design and construction of the mixed-use path and expanded Riverwalk and are responsible for conveying the easement area to the City.”

He said the developers have agreed to provide easement and improve the public space, specifically the multi-use path from Prudential Drive to the Riverwalk. No date has been set for groundbreaking.

Parola said the project received city incentives via a recaptured enhanced value grant. Those kinds of grants mean projects get a partial reprieve from taxes on the increased value of the property, DIA Executive Director Lori Boyer said.  

Leadership at the Downtown Investment Authority is hoping to bring more residential units to the downtown area in order to revitalize it and attract a younger workforce. To that end, the DIA has been streamlining the process for future development and offering incentives.

“It is a $7.8M recaptured enhanced value grant,” she explained about the Ventures incentive. “If the development didn’t happen at all, your taxes would be X. That’s your base year. If your taxes go to Y, the increment is the enhanced value and the 75 percent is the recaptured enhanced value.” That means the city gets 25 percent of the increased taxes for 20 years, rather than 100 percent. 

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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