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Politicians will fall in line behind this development. What choice do they have?

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Despite hiccups, Jacksonville ‘District’ development clears first City Council panel

On Monday, Jacksonville City Council’s Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety committee greenlit the ‘District‘ development plan.

That said, the bill did not pass without considerable discussion and consternation among myriad members of the panel before the 5-1 vote

The bill (2018-313) could transform the Southbank with its radical redevelopment of 30 acres at the former Southside Generating Station property next to the Duval County School Board building.

“The District will encompass approximately 200,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space, 1,170 apartments/condominiums, and a 150-200 key hotel,” per a dedicated website to the project.

Politically connected developers Peter Rummell and Michael Munz have a deal via their Elements Development to buy the land for $18.6 million from the JEA Board. That deal closes July 18.

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Concerns in committee included potential environmental risk if the city took possession of the property, in case of developer default. Councilwoman Lori Boyer, in whose district the District will be built, noted that remediation was already done by JEA and certified, with indemnity protections built into the agreement.

As well, a reduction of the amortization from 20 years was broached. Boyer was willing to lower the term to 18 years.

Borrowing was capped at $19 million, reduced from $23 million.

Dedicating parking — 135 metered spaces for Riverwalk access — and enforcing the parking regulations: also a sticking point, with Crescimbeni incredulous over the ability or legality of the future homeowners’ association to enforce parking.

“I can’t vote for this bill,” Crescimbeni told DIA head Aundra Wallace. “This is sloppy. This is not what I expected.”

Boyer, a lawyer by trade, vowed an amendment in Tuesday’s Finance Committee to address the issue.

Despite that qualm, Council President-designate Aaron Bowman said he supported this bill “100 percent” — a position shared by Mayor Lenny Curry.

Current Council President Anna Lopez Brosche, meanwhile, was not in attendance in committee.

Among the incentives for developers: a $30 million capital improvement plan and a Rev Grant (75 percent for up to 22 years capped at $56 million).

The Rev Grant extends to 2040 when the Southbank CRA sunsets.

The total post-construction-assessed value is expected to be just shy of $216 million.

Capital improvements would include $25 million of infrastructure work, including three riverfront parks and a marshfront park on the south of the property ($4.469 million total, and these parks would be city lands).

Other project costs would include $6.361 million for a riverfront bulkhead, a $3.488 million Riverwalk extension, $1.597 million for a boardwalk, $1.035 for an overland trail. As well, a $1.025 million extension of Prudential Drive, $405,600 for Broadcast Place, and $1,158 million for Riverside Drive are in the mix.

Design costs of $2.931 million and a contingency allowance of $3.371 million are also included.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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