JEA closer to revitalizing central business district

JEA closer to revitalizing central business district
Construction is moving along at a clip at the site of the new JEA Headquarters. The new, 135,000-square-foot-building will have a Pearl Street address.

This spring saw Downtown’s central business district come a step closer toward a chance for revitalization, with full-steam-ahead progress on JEA’s sleek new, pedestrian-friendly headquarters.

Ryan Companies U.S. Inc., a Minneapolis-headquartered developer, is constructing the seven-story building at 225 Pearl Street, with an adjacent parking garage that will be used by both employees and the public. The property is to include a nine-level parking garage with 657 spaces and a pedestrian-friendly complex with a unique design feature – a chamfered, or cutaway, corner on the parking garage, at the corner of Adams and Julia Street. The ground floor of the garage is planned to include 10,690 square feet of retail space.

On March 25, Ryan staff celebrated raising the final steel beam, painted white, onsite with the project team, subcontractors, and onsite trade labor. In addition, JEA employees, retirees and stakeholders also signed a commemorative beam that was installed on the new headquarters’ lower level in mid-April, according to a news release. The beam was laid adopt the 125-foot-tall tower, which will feature large windows and open floor plans geared toward collaborative meeting space for one of the nation’s largest community-owned electric utility companies. The site had been vacant until construction, although the City of Jacksonville used it as temporary parking. It takes up an entire City block, bordered to the north by Monroe Street, to the east by Julia Street, to the south by Adams Street, and to the west by Pearl Street.

The seven-story, 153,000-square-foot build-to-suit project is projected to revitalize the central business district, with a completion date of 2022. The building’s design team weaved in aspects of the surrounding area’s bridges and rich industrial history, while providing access to Jacksonville’s major roadways and public transportation. It will stand east of the Duval County Courthouse lawn and other government buildings, and the current headquarters building on Church Street will then be put up for sale, according to the JEA construction website.

Ariel Woodson, Ryan spokeswoman, said the project was on track for a summer opening next year.

“Despite the challenging year (2020), Ryan Companies and JEA have displayed exceptional planning, teamwork, and creativity to reach the height of development on this Downtown Jacksonville office project,” Scott Stenman, Vice President of Construction at Ryan Companies, said in a prepared statement. “Our team has faced different obstacles throughout 2020 as the pandemic has changed the way we safely construct buildings as well as how society views traditional office space. I am proud of our progress and our ability to reach this milestone on time. The JEA Headquarters is a sign of revitalization, and economic growth in Downtown Jacksonville and Ryan is thrilled to be part of the team bringing the project to fruition.”

Construction is moving along at a clip at the site of the new JEA Headquarters. The new, 135,000-square-foot-building will have a Pearl Street address.
Construction is moving along at a clip at the site of the new JEA Headquarters. The new, 135,000-square-foot-building will have a Pearl Street address.

When the project is complete JEA will move from its 1960s-era offices at 21 W. Church St., where it has been headquartered since 1989. The new building is being planned for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, which will be determined after completion. LEED is a green building certification program used worldwide.

JEA spokeswoman Simone Garvey-Ewan said that JEA would not be doing a mass hiring before or after the move but would continue its continual recruitment efforts from its new location.

“Our downtown staff is going to move with us,” Garvey-Ewan explained. “We are constantly recruiting. When we go to the headquarters, it will be the same thing. We are transferring our staff from where we are located right now (21 West Church St.) to 225 Pearl Street North.”

The new headquarters will be easier for some customers to access; it will be a short distance from JTA’s Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center which connects visitors with various mass transit options. It will also include what JEA terms a “customer experience center” where customers can pay bills, discuss accounts and learn about products and services.

Ryan Companies was selected, after a lengthy ITN process, in April 2019 to develop, design and build the new headquarters. The 1.5-acre parcel is on the 300 block of West Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville. The Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) gave its final approval to the project June 12 last year, although the final version was not as tall as developers had originally envisioned, or with quite as many parking spaces. Then, on June 30, Ryan Companies U.S. Inc. announced it had closed on the parcel at a cost of $2.6 million.

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By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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