FIS headquarters, Florida Blue Parking garage moving toward construction

FIS headquarters, Florida Blue Parking garage moving toward construction
Conceptual renderings of Riverside’s latest sleek modern skyscraper, a $145 million headquarters for FIS.

The new $145 million world headquarters of Fidelity Information Services – FIS – is well on its way to starting construction, with developers working with the City of Jacksonville to iron out some final details, such as sidewalks and the kind of trees City officials would like to see around it. At the same time, Florida Blue is set to construct a parking garage nearby that will allow it to add employees and offer non-employees 750 parking spaces on nights, weekends and holidays, said Downtown Investment Authority Executive Director Lori Boyer.

The 12-story, 350,000-square-foot office tower is set to bring up to 1,800 employees to the Brooklyn area by 2029. Of those jobs, 1,216 are current Jacksonville FIS employees, city documents show, with an average salary of $85,000. Lane Gardner, senior managing director for Hines, a Houston-based real estate development firm, said the headquarters would include a wellness center, have a high LEED rating and a top-notch cafeteria as well as a 70,000-square-foot parking garage and urban open space with public art and street furniture such as benches. The City Department of Public Works meanwhile is moving forward with plans to realign Forest Street to provide accessibility to the buildings, future riverfront development and Sidney J. Gefen Riverwalk Park.

FIS hopes to employ up to 1,800 people at its headquarters by 2029.
FIS hopes to employ up to 1,800 people at its headquarters by 2029.

“They are making a very significant capital investment by bringing this to Jacksonville and bringing jobs as well,” Gardner told the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) in January, adding that the development would convert an existing surface lot. “We believe (it) will enhance the Jacksonville skyline.”

The board voted unanimously in January to approve conceptual plans but gave the developers some aspects to tweak, including adding much wider sidewalks, and changing the landscaping. No date palms, Board Member M. Christian Harden urged.

“Date palms aren’t even native to Jacksonville,” Harden said.

“(DIA operations manager) Mr. Parola and I have had a long conversation about date palms,” Gardner replied. “We would be happy to change them. We only kept them so we wouldn’t be inconsistent with what is already in the area.”

Board Chair Frederick Jones, an urban planner, quickly replied.

“You should be inconsistent so other people can start being inconsistent,” he said to laughter.

Boyer was enthusiastic about the projects, saying they both offered significant benefits for downtown, especially the Brooklyn area. “The FIS in particular is a major win,” she explained. “This is a major company, they recently merged/acquired Worldpay and it was a big win for us to keep them here. This is potentially a Fortune 100 company that is of great significance. It is a growing industry; it is something Jacksonville has a lot of. We have workforce development that feeds people into that field. That headquarters in and of itself is a major success for us.”

Conceptual renderings of Riverside’s latest sleek modern skyscraper, a $145 million headquarters for FIS.
Conceptual renderings of Riverside’s latest sleek modern skyscraper, a $145 million headquarters for FIS.

The newly combined FIS and Worldpay have more than $12 billion in revenue and employ more than 55,000 people, according to information posted on the FIS global website. “With a best-in-class portfolio of solutions for payments, banking and capital markets, FIS is positioned to accelerate its growth and advance the way the world pays, banks and invests,” said the website.

At the end of January, FIS had 106 job openings posted on its website for its current Jacksonville location, in categories ranging from sales to procurement, IT to finance.

Florida Blue garage may drive development

The $22.5 million Florida Blue garage, meanwhile, is to allow Florida Blue and parent company Guidewell to add more employees and will help development on Park Street, Boyer said. The company currently uses a surface lot, but the Forest Street garage is set to be four stories high and is to be used by both employees and residents who want to go out to dinner or spend time downtown. There might be a cost to park, but if so, it would go toward the cost of security and lighting. Public parking begins after 6 p.m. on weekdays and all weekend. The city gave the land to Florida Blue at no cost, along with a more than $3 million grant. It will have 869 spaces total, with 750 available to the public.

“I think that garage will help not only Unity Plaza from an activation nights and weekends standpoint but also the future development planned on Park Street,” Boyer said. “I really like the idea of shared-use facilities. Something’s sole use isn’t corporate that sits vacant in other areas. I really appreciate Florida Blue’s willingness to make this available for us nights and weekends.”

The city is also realigning Forest Street.

“Part of Forest was wanting to align the road all the way to the river and have all those nice wide sidewalks go down to the river,” Boyer said. “And there is Geffen Park down at the end of it. Right now, it is almost like an alley and the intersection doesn’t line up.”

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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