The Cowford Chophouse has been described as downtown Jacksonville’s “most anticipated restaurant.”
Its developer Jacques Klempf, however, has some sharp words for the JEA … whose board was radically reconfigured by Mayor Lenny Curry recently.
“The vault that JEA owns on Ocean Street is in need of a repair and has needed this repair for at least 10-years. It caused the Bostwick building’s foundation to be compromised due to a pump in the vault pumping the silt from underneath the building into the storm drain. The building had shifted 4.5 inches on the southwest corner and precariously being held up on that one corner by one of the Jaguar murals that was on the building,” Klempf wrote Mayor Lenny Curry.
“JEA says that they will not repair, but even more does not think there is anything wrong. My frustration certainly has been enhanced by the length of time we have been trying to get a repair and now it is crunch time as we are about to put all of the hard scape back in place and the time to make this repair is now. We did get JEA to say that we could repair and pay for the repair, but they would not indemnify us if something should go wrong in the future,” Klempf added.
“Now JEA will not even return emails or calls. This repair should be JEA’s responsibility…. not ours? JEA and FDOT in my opinion have been awful to work with at every level, even their newest hire Kerri Stewart [recent Chief of Staff of the city] whom I’ve know for sometime. Whoever is calling the shots at JEA is a total detriment to downtown re-development. The storm drains fill up very fast and flood in our area too. We looked at a 48″ inch pipe in the middle of the road and it was half full of sand?”
“Our structural engineer has numerous reports that he has signed his name too that it will continue to cause problems if not repaired. I have invested a substantial amount of money in renovating this 115-year old building back to its historical significance and very concerned about my investment,” Klempf added.
Marsha Oliver, the spokeswoman for Mayor Curry, noted that this issue was brought to his attention two days ago, and CAO Sam Mousa has been directed to convene a meeting to “discuss and resolve” these issues.
The meeting has yet to happen, however. This issue has been a long-standing issue, one that Klempf apparently knew about for 3 1/2 years, but brought to the administration’s attention this week. And our understanding is that Klempf thus far has not been inclined to solution-oriented dialogue with impacted parties on this, despite Mousa’s outreach.