Groundbreaking on RiversEdge

Groundbreaking on RiversEdge
Artist and Architect Marc Fornes, Preston Hollow Capital CEO Jim Thompson, District 5 City Council Representative LeAnna Cumber, Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer, and representing Toll Brothers was Division President Steve Merten and Land Acquisition Manager Jeremy Hampson

It was a big day for citizens of Jacksonville May 25, as one of the largest development projects in generations was unveiled along the banks of the St. Johns River.

Leadership from the Downtown Investment Authority, District 5, and several key players for both the development team with Preston Hollow Capital and representatives from Toll Brothers were on hand to turn dirt and celebrate its kickoff.

The project, newly minted as RiversEdge – Life on the St. Johns, has a new life, a renewed sense of energy, and a strong development team poised to add a list of tenants and owners to the mix. Construction and investment partners will be building out pads and cutting ribbons on retail spaces for the next several years.

For residents of Jacksonville, the project means a great deal, as the prior team of developers had struggled to gain ground and momentum on the site. It wasn’t until local developer Peter Rummell and his development partner Michael Munz, as Elements of Jacksonville, LLC., came to an agreement with its financier Preston Hollow Capital, out of Dallas, TX, that allowed the project to go forward swiftly. Preston Hollow held the note on the property and after an agreeable deal was brokered, Preston Hollow took the baton and ran with it, building upon the momentum necessary for growth.

“It’s a long-awaited catalytic project on the Southbank,” shared Lori Boyer, who used the words ‘long-awaited’ literally, as she took part in a series of workshops on the parcel dating back to the early-2000s when JEA was holding charrettes about parks on the parcel. At that time, Boyer was in a leadership role with the San Marco Preservation Society. She has since served on the Board at SMPS, represented City Council District 5 for two terms, was a Council President during her tenure and is now playing an integral role as CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA). “When I say long-awaited, I mean that in many ways,” she quipped.

Boyer is pleased about the bustling activity and feels strongly that once you break ground, things begin to happen.

“The fact that not only are we going to have the park spaces there, they [Preston Hollow] have some really exciting development proposals we’re going to see soon…for vertical construction, for restaurants, pads along the Riverwalk,” she continued, “This is a big step in that riverfront activation we’ve been talking about.”

Rendering courtesy of  Preston Hollow Capital
Rendering courtesy of Preston Hollow Capital

Managing Director Ramiro Albarran of Preston Hollow Capital could not agree more and he is confident in the group’s ability to create a product that will be in demand and enjoyed by all of Jacksonville.

“We are very excited about our partnership with the City of Jacksonville. We at Preston Hollow pride ourselves on our partnerships with municipalities all over the country. When their vision and our vision align, it’s usually around a transformational project,” he continued, “[one] that’s going to have a material and positive impact to the community.”

Albarran made mention of the activity that will be alive and well on the parcel due to the City’s planning to ensure access to public parks, the use of the Riverwalk, and the river itself exist, creating traffic and counts that developers look for to increase investment interest. Pedestrian-driven activities will only enhance the lure to commercial, which will then spill over to residential stakeholders looking at the site. The ability to create this critical mass is key, according to Albarran.

“This is one of those communities that I think truly accomplishes that, just given its scale, and location for that matter,” he said, making a parallel to the successful development of other large, complicated projects. It must ultimately be a great place to live, work, and play, without sounding cliché.

“The RiversEdge development is an excellent example of a true partnership between the city and private sector to bring higher quality of life to residents in Downtown Jacksonville,” shared LeAnna Cumber, who represents the Southbank and District 5 constituents. “The emphasis on high quality living along with state-of-the-art green spaces will be a real benefit to the city. The Southbank will be a much more vibrant area in the coming years.”

Progress on the sitework is ongoing and dirt is moving on the property with infrastructure work already underway and bulkhead work said to begin as early as the first week in June. The Resident will continue to follow progress on the site as more announcements are unveiled.

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